65th recipient of livelihood bicycle: …. “… Roz hi khushi hai. Dekho, tension mein ya dukh mein cycle chalayega na, toh apun ko koi gaadi wala udaa dalega! Issi liye, khushi se hi cycle chalane ka, aur khushi se hi zindagi bhi jeene ka!” (If I ride in tension or being sad about my life, then a vehicle may knock me down…!)”
Rajesh Sutar. (23)
Delivers DVDs. (He works for a DVD-on-rent outlet in Bandra west)
Rajesh has been delivering DVDs to my place, and many others, since nearly ten years. I have very often seen him riding in Bandra and Khar delivering DVDs on his single speed road bike, in rain, in sun, up slopes and hills, down narrow Bandra and Khar lanes, a rider as thin as the many palm trees on our long coastline, and a rider as sturdy as a Tour De France veteran …. And I have always considered him a decent, professional, happy and seemingly content, fellow.
Last year, when my friend and actor Pravin Dabbas wanted to donate his MTB, a 21 gears bike!, I asked Rajesh if he would like to receive this donation.
Rajesh replied, ‘I have a bicycle, a single speed. And since you want to donate a bike give it to my colleague who works along with me in the DVD shop. He also delivers DVDs to clients, but he does not have a bike. My bike has been given to me by my boss who owns the DVD shop.’
I tried to convince Rajesh, that what Pravin Dabbas wants to donate is a 21 gears MTB! The gears will make his ride better and he can climb hills easily, even ride longer hours. Moreover, since his bike belongs to his boss, if he has his own bike and in future if he ever leaves this particular job, he can find work easily anywhere else that requires he have a bike of his own. So by accepting this donation from Pravin, he will get empowered, in a way. Yet, Rajesh declined our offer to receive Pravin’s 21 gears MTB!!
However, I remained keen to help him someday. My wish was manifested soon, by way of an opportunity that arrived in the form of my rider pal, Shreyansh. (I happened to meet Shreyansh with Captain, Ekta< Harish, Chetan … just a week ago on a ride. )
And exactly a week ago, Rajesh had come to deliver a DVD and causally inquired if we have a bicycle for donation, because his bicycle has got slightly damaged in a minor accident and he needs one soon.
Coincidently, that very week Sheyansh Agrawal called me and told me he would like to donate his single speed Hercules bike to Bicycle Angels, saying it’s in good condition.
I immediately thought of offering it to Rajesh, and accordingly informed Rajesh to meet up with Shreyansh and check out the bike he wants to donate; take a ride to check out if the frame size etc suits him and his work needs. However, I told Rajesh strictly, ‘If you accept Shreyansh’s donation, the bike will have to belong to you, not to your boss!’
Rajesh agreed. I was happy for him, and so was Shreyansh, I had consulted him before offering his bike to Rajesh.
Rajesh rode it, he loved it!
Rajesh is from Pune, but has been brought up in Mumbai. His father is a carpenter.
He came to Mumbai in 1990 for earning a livelihood. He is educated till the 9th Std. He could not study any further because their shanty house was demolished and the family got displaced overnight. The house was in Santacruz west on the Bandhh road, built on top of the sewage outlet. They finally settled in Chembur, and later shifted to Khar.
His younger brother will soon be a graduate, and his father and he pay for his education. He wants his brother to find a mainstream job and does not want him to do what he (Rajesh) has been doing for a living.
Rajesh did accompany his father a couple of times to work to learn Carpentry, but it did not interest him. Then he began to work at the DVD outlet in Bandra, delivering DVDs to the library’s clients. He chose this job because he said he lacked the education needed to do something else.
However, he knows there is no future in delivering DVDs, so someday soon Rajesh plans to return to his village, and either work in the fields (the family owns agriculture land), or, he may begin his own business, by buying a Tempo or 3 Wheeler and deliver goods, commercial goods, in and around Pune.
Rajesh said about Shreyansh’s bicycle “….though the cycle is old, its condition is very good, the paint is good, the tyres are good, the bike is oiled and running very well. Oiling is the main thing you see. He has not given me something he had discarded, rather he has given me something he values enough to have maintained even though he has another good bike.’
This made me ponder, it’s very important that when we offer our old bike for donation, we offer it with a sense of pride and dignity in the needy receiver’ however poor he or she may be, they have pride even in their most humble existence!
I mention this because, in the past, a friend of mine offered me her bike for donation, but I found out it was in junk condition! I got upset that she did not have the courtesy, nor the dignity, nor the common sense to get her old bike serviced before offering it to us as her donation. After all, we are not ‘Kabadiwalas’ ya! (Kabadiwalas are people who profit from buying or receiving people’s junk!!!) And I said that to her to her face! :p Always think of the needy receiver’s self esteem and dignity.
Another good thing about Rajesh, while he spoke to me, he must have laughed at least four to five times, in the 9 mins that he spent talking about the up hills and down hills of his life. He seemed happy to me, so I asked him to tell me about his happiest moment ever.
He replied. ‘I will be the happiest when I get married!’ And once again, he laughed out loud!
Then he said something that made me reflect …. “… Roz hi khushi hai. Dekho, tension mein ya dukh mein cycle chalayega na, toh apun ko koi gaadi wala udaa dalega! Issi liye, khushi se hi cycle chalane ka, aur khushi se hi zindagi bhi jeene ka!”
(‘Everyday is a happy day. If I ride in tension or being sad about my life, then a vehicle may knock me down!, because my mind will be distracted. I believe we must be happy when we ride a bicycle or when we live our daily lives; that is the best way to ride and live.’)
One thing I advised him, from the little I know from what I have read about our Brain’s behavior etc) on seeing him riding hearing music on his mobile headphones, “You have many things right about you, however, if you allow me to correct you, I can say to you, – Never hear music when riding a bicycle on the roads. Even if the volume is low!
From the research I have read, I found out that we, humans, may like to think we are capable of multitasking, which is true, however, even when we are multitasking like super-humans, our brain is performing only one task at one time, even if it be for a second or more in intervals, in intervals which we do not realize do not overlap but are spaced out in seconds and less or more. Alas, there will be moments your brain will be concentrating on the music you hearing for too long for you to be able to respond in time towards an approaching danger!
Multitasking is simply a myth we want to believe as a reality because we want to believe we are super humans. So, Ride Safe, without music! 😉 ’