100th – Working at a flour mill is like riding the motorcycle in the wheel of death.

100 flour jahendra

100th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : ‘Working at a flour mill is like being the motorcyclist in the Wheel of Death at the circus; both face danger to their lives sooner or later.’

Jahendra Yadav. (34)

Flour (Aata) maker.

Jahendra is from UP. He works at an Aate ka chakki (flour mill) in Khar west. and is the only employee of the mill and also delivers the produce.

Jahendra does not own a bicycle, so to make deliveries he has to often borrow one from some neighbor or friend, who naturally often cannot spare their bicycles. So his delivery work suffers.
With this new bicycle, he will no longer be at the mercy of his neighbors or friends, even though they have been kind to him often. So, this donation of a bicycle will kind of empower him, I thought.

Jahendra’s father was a sweetmeats maker, a Halwai, but his business in the village did not succeed, and after suffering huge losses he had to shut shop.
This was just the beginning of his father’s falls. Because there was another one awaiting him. It arrived soon after, while he was walking across a bridge; he lost balance, and fell into the running stream below, from a great height.

Post that fall from the bridge, his father lost not just his ability to use one arm, but also his ability to earn a fair livelihood for his young family of four – two sons and a sister.
Those two falls his father suffered, shifted the burden of earning a livelihood for his family on Jahendra’s teen shoulders.
Consequently. young Jahendra to leave school when he was in the 9th and seek a livelihood. So began his migration to Mumbai, in 1995, with a kind relative who offered him a job at the flour mill he worked at. He has been working there ever since.

The profession, of a flour maker, has helped him revive not just his father’s family, but also helps him feed, clothe and educate his own. He has two, a daughter and a son, both he has placed in a school. He wants them to complete school, and hopefully graduation too; something he regrets he could not.

Jahendra mentioned his profession could be life-threatening. When he works at the flour mill, he is enveloped in flour dust. There is simply no escape from it, as it enters his eyes, nose, ears and mouth. The people, known to him, who have worked in this profession before him, some of them died from breathing related diseases and illness, like TB and Astama, he said. He said that without sadness, almost poker faced, as though accepting the pitfall with the rewards.

I have no way of knowing if this is true, that the end of many flour mill workers is so sad; but I spared a thought for these humble flour mill workers because of whom I have enjoyed some well made and delicious chappatis, parathas, tandoori rotis, halwa, etc, because the fine flour on many occasions, at least during my childhood and teens, originated from such flour mills, from the hands of such artists. I know as I would sometimes accompany my mother to these flour mills in Bandra, and always stood far from the shop because of the white dust in and around it.

These temples of fine flour, where the finest of wheat grains from the wheat basket of our nation, is crafted carefully into fine powder, a powder nearly as fine as stardust, sculpted by artists like Jahendra.

From the way he had described his job to me, how he needs to be very careful about how much he grinds the wheat grains, (depending on whether the customer is Punjabi, Gujarati or Marathi – the Punjabis want it least grinded, and the Marathis the finest) his profession was nothing less than that of being an artist, I say. Jahendra is a sculptor of whole wheat.

Except that in his profession, past artists, workers just like him, who had crafted the flour for my family too, may have died many decades later in circumstances where every breath must have been as labored as what some of my fortunate friends experienced, while they were on exotic adventures like deep sea diving and mountain climbing at very high altitudes done for sheer pleasure. The later labored breathing, however, we welcome.

Long after Jahendra left with his new bicycle, I thought he had chosen a profession that is nothing less than being on that fast spinning motorcycle at the the fascinating Wheel of Death at the circus, that we joyfully rushed to as kids, to watch the death defying motorcyclist speed on his motorbike in circles.
Both face the danger of an untimely death; except, the Wheel of Death motorcyclist faces it in the short term, and the wheat sculptor in the long.

Each of us is responsible for our rose.

Thank you Dr Niraj Vora for donating this bicycle to Jahendra; Jahendra contributed substantially towards its cost.

And thank you to Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) for the good discount and service.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/
https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/

(PS – Rs 3000 is what it takes to donate a new bicycle; yes, because the balance, 2000 to 2500, is contributed by the recipient. 🙂 )

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My feelings and experiences from my Pune to Ratnagiri 350 kms charity ride.

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Post my nearly 350-400 kms trip, a bicycle charity-ride from Pune to Ratnagiri, over 6 days, riding nearly 50 to 70 kms daily, (on which my friends, and family and the NGO donated 9 livelihood bicycles to needy and rural people, across 6 towns and villages of Maharashtra, Pune, Umbraj, Kokrud, Pali, Ratnagiri, along with the NGO Mukul Madhav Foundation);
some of my friends asked me, ‘So, What was the trip and ride like?’

Well, the cycling was great, but so was the experience of knowing these children, up close.

Quite many lessons and feelings from my ride across five towns of Maharashtra, I decided to share today.

Every Zilla Parishad school I visited, four, as an observer and not a social worker, I noticed everywhere the midday meal was exactly the same; Dal and Rice. No chatni, no papad, no achaar, no onions, none of the frills I regularly relish with nearly every meal.
Yet, every child smiled just as I do when I relish Cocoberry cold yogurt ice cream, or Alphanso Mangoes every summer!

They ate from steel plates, everywhere we went, and yet held them like they were eating out of pure Silver.

The NGO involved with the medical camp for these children, gifted each child a toothpaste, toothbrush, a Gluco biscuit, and soap. to teach them to brush their teeth, wash their hands, and enjoy the sweet biscuit. It was a sight I saw at every school we went, that the child on receiving his goodies packet would run with such joy to his or her classmates to show them what he has just ‘miraculously’ received! Its the kind joy I have experienced on seeing exotic places in India or abroad after spending far much more money and effort.

Another, most touching incident for me, was that some of the schools, the younger children wanted to simply touch me, which is evident from this accompanying picture. They would invariably, boys and girls, come up to me shyly, and when I would chat with them and ask their names and age and which class they in, they would open up like sunflowers smile on seeing the Sun, and after just a while sit right besides me, or touch my arm or even my bald head, and sometimes just rest their shoulder against mine just like deep friends do.

Why!? I really do not know from what source arrived their fascination or affection for me, or maybe just a cyclist in clothes so different from what they used to seeing.
Maybe they were fascinated by the presence of a cyclist, just like maybe one of their dreams that they feel they may never ever be able to achieve.

I returned a billionaire, and had even put on more than a kilo of weight on my return. It was the kilos of love, and not fat, I know.

Thank you Ritu and Prakash.

93rd to 99th recipients – Pune to Ratnagiri ride of 350 kms.

93 94 95 96 98 99 tricycle and bike by vedant hinduja and dr ram

Nov 17th 2014.

Mukul Madhav Foundation and Bicycle Angels (Finolex and Ashok Leyland) Cyclothon 2014, Pune to Ratnagiri; Riding 50 kms a day; 1st Day at Pune.
Vedant Hinduja donated a tricycle to a young adult who works at a pain factory; and Dr Ram Dhillon donated a bicycle to a young woman (a rescued sex-worker who has been helped to return to mainstream life.).
Both arranged by Mukul Madhav Foundation.

https://www.facebook.com/MMFpage
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93rd recipient of livelihood bicycle: Kishan Jadhav.

Mukul Madhav Foundation and Bicycle Angels Cyclothon 2nd day. Pune to Shirwal 65 kms riding; bicycle donated to kishan jadhav by KS; kishan is 35 and a fisherman. He will use the bicycle to transport his children to school and to carry his fish basket to various markets around Shirwal.

https://www.facebook.com/MMFpage
https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/
https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/
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94th recipient of livelihood bicycle: Ananda Kamble. 50. Umbraj, Satara.

3rd day. Mukul Madhav Foundation and Bicycle Angels Cyclothon 2014.
Bicycle donated by Dilnaz; thanks to MMF.
Ananda is an agriculture labourer, grows his own produce, walks around 8 kms to sell his produce.

https://www.facebook.com/MMFpage
https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/
https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/
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95th recipient of livelihood bicycle: Akshay Maruti Patil. (18) – Kokrud,

4th day, Mukkul Madhav Foundation and Bicycle Angels Cyclothon 2014; – Pune to Ratnagiri. (Riders: Dr Ram Dhillon and Rakesh Bakshi, riding 50 to 60 Kms daily.

Akshay works with a dentist at Kokrud, from 7 am to 9am, and then goes to college, he wants to complete his graduation. If he walks to wok and to college, it takes him 90 minutes. If he commutes by bus he spends Rs 40 a day on public transport. A bicycle will help his save that money. His father is a farmer.

Thank you to MJ Arvind and Meghna Rodrigues, for donating this bicycle to Akshay, with the help of Mukul Madhav Foundation, Pune. Arvind dedicated this donation to his beloved parents, and Meghna to her family. Thank you.

https://www.facebook.com/MMFpage
https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/
https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/
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96th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : Sanjay Bapu Ghode. 45;

4th day of Mukul Madhav Foundation (and Bicycle Angels) Cyclothon 2014, Pune to Ratnagiri. 4th day at Umraj, Satara. (And medical camp for less privileged children, held by MMF at the Zilla Parishad School..)

Sanjay is a mason’s assistant. His family owns some amount of agriculture land, however its not enough to sustain his family. Settled in Satara region now, previously he worked for many years in Mumbai, however, because of the ill health of his parents he reverse-migrated back to his village at Kokrud.and earns his livelihood by doing odd jobs, as a mason’s assistant and some agriculture too, the latter being immensely dependent of the benevolence of nature, rains.

Sanjay, a devoted son who stemmed his own ambition to work in the big city, only to be with his parents, is how he came across to us, Mukul Madhav Foundation (who identified him for us) and myself.
This bicycle is donated to Sanjay by Surabhi Shah; with the assistance of MMF. Thank You.

https://www.facebook.com/MMFpage
https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/
https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/
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97th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : Gaurav Gajanan Lingayat. (18).
Recipients of donated bicycle: Gaurav and Tushar Lingayat.

5th day of Mukul Madhav Foundation (and Bicycle Angels/Finolex/Ashok Leyland) Cyclothon 2014, Pune to Ratnagiri.
5th day at Pali, Ratnagiri. (And medical camp for less privileged children, held by MMF at Maratha Mandir School and College.)

Gaurav is 10th Std. pass, and is currently studying to be an Electrician at ITI, Pali. His father is a farmer. In the morning Gaurav delivers milk and newspaper to various homes, to supplement the family’s agricultural income. He has a bicycle he uses to deliver milk, but it is in a dilapidated state. They were very happy someone offered them a brand new bicycle!

Gaurav’s younger brother, Tushar (17) studies in school, and the bicycle will be shared by both brothers, so it makes this donation even more worthy, for me. Tushar wants to be a motor mechanic when he grows up. (The boy in the accompanying picture is Tushar.)

This bicycle was donated to Tushar and Gaurav by Varsha Kalani;
Mukul Madhav Foundation helped us identify this family at Pali, thank you very much. We presented the bicycle to them during the medical camp organized by MMF for the less privileged children at a school at Pali.

I must add, the bicycles donated beyond the limits of my city, Mumbai, since Monday 17th Nov 2014, have been made possible even thanks to MMF, Pune; their presence in the service of the less privileged in many parts of rural Maharashtra is proven and commendable.

https://www.facebook.com/MMFpage
https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/
https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/
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98th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : Krushna Panchal; (34); Golap, Ratnagiri.

(Last day of Mukul Madhav Foundation (and Bicycle Angels/Finolex/Ashok Leyland) Cyclothon 2014, and Medical Camp for less privileged children; from Pune to Ratnagiri, riding 50 kms a day, halting for medical camps by MMF at Shirwal, Umbraj, Kokrud, Pali and Ratnagiri.)

Krushna has two daughters and lives with his wife and parents at Kolambe. He is a daily wages laborer, working at construction sites, and he also sells biscuits (khari biscuits, bread sweet toasts) from shop to shop in and around Pawas, Golap and his own village.

The new bicycle, donated to him by Nidhi and Rohit Sood, with the assistance of MMF, will help him ride to more villages and make greater sales, and also help his carry some construction raw materials and tools when he gets work on and off as a daily wages construction site worker.

Thank you Nidhi and Rohit for donating this bike to Krushna, he was identified to us by Mukul Madhav Foundation, and its MMF who helped me reach this needy person, and some others since 17th Nov, 450 kms from my own home in Mumbai.

Krushna’s daughter studies at Mukul Madhav Vidyalaya, Golap, where the students, I realized, speak English with quite ease, even though their primary language is Marathi. I thought that is commendable, since languages that you do not speak at home are most often very challenging to be at ease with, because you lack people in your immediate surroundings to converse in that second language with. So I felt the teachers at the school must be doing a terrific job at teaching these rural children a second language that will be of immense use to them as they grow older.

https://www.facebook.com/MMFpage
https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/
https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/
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99th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : Ganesh Deepak Gurav; (21) Golap, Ratnagiri.

(Last day of Mukul Madhav Foundation (and Bicycle Angels/Finolex/Ashok Leyland) Cyclothon 2014, and Medical Camp for less privileged children; from Pune to Ratnagiri, riding 50 kms a day, halting for medical camps by MMF at Shirwal, Umbraj, Kokrud, Pali and Ratnagiri.)

Ganesh sells biscuits and bread toasts from village to village around Nakhre, Ratnagiri; he was referred to MMF by their gardener, Dilip Kulya. Ganesh has a brother and they live with their parents; he His brother suffers from epileptic fits. When he is better, he wants to take him on bicycle rides.

This new bicycle, donated to Ganesh by Divya, Shreya, Sidanthi, Kavita and Sanjiv Bali; with the assistance of MMF, will help him ride to more villages and make greater sales.

Thank you Divya, Shreya, Sidhanth for donating this bike to Ganesh, identified to us by Mukul Madhav Foundation, and its MMF who helped me reach this needy person, and some others since 17th Nov, 450 kms from my own home in Mumbai.

https://www.facebook.com/MMFpage
https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/
https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/
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THANK YOU RITU; MUKUL MADHAV FOUNDATION; ASHOK LEYLAND AND FINOLEX PIPES, FOR HELPING ME REACH OUT TO RURAL MAHARASHTRA.

93rd recipient. – Fisherman, at Shirwal, Satara.

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93rd recipient of livelihood bicycle: Kishan Jadhav.
Mukul Madhav Foundation and Bicycle Angels Cyclothon 2nd day. Pune to Shirwal 65 kms riding; bicycle donated to kishan jadhav by KS; kishan is 35 and a fisherman. He will use the bicycle to transport his children to school and to carry his fish basket to various markets around Shirwal.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/

92nd recipient – Your life changes when you take responsibility for the life of others too.

92 tea manoj simmi kekr2

92nd recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : ‘Your life begins to change the day you also take responsibility for the life of some others.’

Manoj Sahu. (18)

Tea seller.

Manoj is from Bihar. He is living in Mumbai since 4 years. He could not educate himself after the 7 std., because his father suffers from some kind of mental illness and could not provide adequately for his family thereafter.

Being the eldest child of the house, Manoj had to take the reins of the family’s livelihood chariot from his father, and run the show thereafter. After all, he has 3 younger brothers and sister too, he reasoned.

Steve Maraboli said: “Your life begins to change the day you take responsibility for it.”
It rings true for Manoj, because even with his humble earnings (a ‘tea’ seller/Chai wala) he is able to remit enough money home every month to educate his 3 younger brothers and sister, all of whom I feel had probably lost their chance at an education, the very chance that Manoj himself lost when he was only in the 7 th Std. Manoj took the reins of his life and that of his family in his young hands, but not feeble, is what is truly great.

I can add one more thought to Steve’s above quote: “And your life begins to change the day you also take responsibility for the life of some others.” And I would put people who do charity in this extraordinary category too, like even my cousin Dabs, who donated this bicycle to Manoj. She thought of doing something herself, to see the change she wanted to see around her. Like one of our country’s prime leader had said – ‘You are the change!’

I can say this, that a truly great being is one who does for his family, or strangers, the very thing that destiny denied him or her; he or she takes a step forward out of love, optimism, and not a step back or sideways out of bitterness or selfishness. Even when he or she is simply a humble ‘tea’ seller/Chai wala; not selling tea in a five star hotel, but simply on our streets, without a license, without even one square feet of land to claim as his own.

Manoj was recommended to me by a coconut seller on carter road, who sells coconuts from a handcart next to otters club, even though they were not related he helped Manoj; the kindness of random people in our cities is incalculable. However, on second thoughts, Manoj and the coconut seller are related, I say, because – Don’t they both fend for a livelihood on our streets?

I think, a bond of brotherhood grows between people who, literally, live off our streets. A selfless-bond, which one may not find quite often in people living much higher up the food chain, closer to the clouds.
So often I have heard some people, of my class, (if I may be forced to bracket myself in context to this) think and sometimes even state: ‘Arre lekin issme mera kya faida hoga?! toh main usski help kyun karoon?’ (But why should I help him/her, when it is not going to benefit me in any way!?)
However, I could be wrong about this; Well, I hope so.

His father still does some amount of agriculture, and together they are somehow managing to maintain their dignity and the money needed for the school fees.

Currently, Manoj does not own a bicycle, and having one will help him improve his business, because he can travel to more areas and make more sales.

The amazing thing about Manoj, which made him even more deserving for this donation, he feeds tea to the very poor, the destitute, on our streets, often and nearly daily.

His random deeds of kindness reminded me of my own very first short-film I made when I was at film school in London; and if I may please share it with some of you, here is the link to my short film :

Or

I asked Manoj, ‘You say your father has some mental problems, (half-mad, is how he described him to me) and often loses his mind; yet, is there something he told you, while you were growing up, or when you came to Mumbai, which you feel was his most precious advice ever to you….?’

Manoj replied, ‘Yes. My father still tells me, and so had my Mother, “Son, whatever you do to earn a living, do not steal, do not tell lies, do not be violent, do not abuse and hurt anyone. Just do your work and live peacefully with one and all.”’

Such sane advice his father gave him, made me wonder – what could have been the suffering of a man like him who gave such sane advice, and yet one day lost his mind?!
Can the fact that a man, (considering men do feel the pressures of bringing bread on the table, yes, even many women do that too.) lose his mind when he faces defeat after defeat, and day by day comes closer and closer to his own truth that he may lose this ‘race’ of life, not be able to even clothe his loved ones!!?

I shuddered as I thought of some of my own failures in business, and thank God I had a father who bailed me out. What had he not been my father!? Thank you dear universe, and thank you Daddy, and God.

Thank you to respected and Late Mrs Rachna Devi Kehr, in whose blessed memory my cousin sister Dabs donated this bicycle to Manoj. Even Manoj contributed substantially towards the purchase of this new bicycle donated to him.

And thank you to Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) for the good discount and service. Thank you Gazi.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/
https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/

(PS – Rs 3000 is what it takes to donate a new bicycle; yes, because the balance, 2000 to 2500, is contributed by the recipient. 🙂 )

91st recipient – People can unknowingly reveal their stories through their footwear.

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91st recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) :

“People can unknowingly tell us stories; revealed not by their lips, but by their footwear, even though they come and go in absolute silence.”

Datta Laxmax Sherekar (31)

Milk man and cobbler.

Datta is born and brought up at BDD Chawls, Worli.
A happy go lucky fellow, is what I thought of him on meeting him. His father was a cobbler and sold shoes, chappals, footwear for the lower middle class.
Datta sells milk in the morning, and post 9 am he works as a cobbler and footwear seller; his shop is at BDD chawls, Worli.

Datta has been working as a cobbler since the age of 9 after his father died, and he began selling milk 8 years ago, to supplement their family income, after his father sailed away. He is educated till the 9th Std., his father’s early death stemmed his chance to educate himself any further.

His father died due to an illness related to excessive alcohol consumption, when Datta was 9. His mother died in 2000.
He was not as sad when his father died, but he cried only when his mother died, as she was his constant companion through her life; and that’s the only time he has cried, he said, in his life so far.

What he remembers most fondly about his mother is, when she beat him black and blue with a stick, because he went roaming around the city with his friends without informing his parents, and returned home very late. They were worried to death that something terrible may have happened to him, and when he returned home he got a beating of his life, which even left a scar on his head.

Yet, he misses her the most. He learnt such a good lesson from that good-beating, he never did anything thereafter against her wish, or anything they considered morally wrong.

Datta is married and has two children. He has a daughter and a son, both go to school. He got his sister married from his own earnings when he was 22; he was very proud he could do that, as he still is the only earning member of his family.

I had heard from some people that there is a lot of violence and gangs in and around BDD chawls, and when I have been in that area I have felt the buildings could fall first if there is a cloud burst over Mumbai. So I have sometimes wondered what’s it like growing up in such a place. So I asked him that.

Datta said, ‘It can be very challenging growing up in BDD chawls. Often fights break out between residents of the buildings, and sometimes fights break out between rival ‘groups’.

But it’s not as bad as it seems. You know, the buildings we stay in are so tough, (even though from the exterior it seems, God-forbid, that the buildings may crumble like freshly baked butter cookies on a day of very heavy rain) that to push even an one inch iron nail into any wall it takes the greatest of effort!

Most regular drill machines with a regular drill head fail to make a deep enough hole for a nail to be driven in! Even though these buildings, (nearly 151 of them), are more than 150 years old I think, built by Angrez log (the English), they are very strong!’

It’s not just those British era buildings that are tough, I thought, looking at this resilient fellow, harder than any drill head, a cobbler from age 9 who gets up to sell milk at 5 am daily, without any holidays too I guess, it’s his spirit that is more formidable than all those 151 British era foundations put together!

Even the nail of his father’s very early death, and later his mother’s death, did not stop him from bringing up his sister and earning enough to help her get married, when he was just 22.

To put that in perspective, when I was 22, I bunked my second year Engineering Degree course exams to watch a Hindi movie! That, is the difference between him and someone like me, I thought.

Datta being a cobbler and shoe seller, working so close to the ‘ground’, day in and day out dealing with shoes, slippers, footwear, something that directly ‘connects’ us to the ground we build our dreams on, I asked him can he guess what people are like from looking at their footwear or its condition?

Datta said, he often can look at a person’s footwear and from it’s condition somewhat gauge the wearer’s character and or nature; how well or how badly they keep their footwear, how often they repair it, or get it polished, irrespective of their finances.

So, people can unknowingly tell us stories; revealed not by their lips, but by their footwear, even though they come and go in absolute silence.

In retrospect, when he spoke about his father, there was a scar, unhealed, and hurt that continues to pain, born probably from his father’s alcoholism, which I decided not to probe.
Somethings are best left un-probed. For me it was enough that here is a boy who relied solely on his instincts, even if it meant dealing with people through their footwear, getting up after every set back, after every nail that pierces the self.

“I am someone who always gets up again, even if there are setbacks. I have a survivor instinct. I’m not sure where it comes from, but probably from all the little things that make you into who you are.”- (Super Model) Heidi Klum.

Thank you to Surabhi Shah for donating this new bike to Datta; Datta too contributed substantially towards the cost of the bike.

(I met Datta on my ride one morning, he was delivering milk near Worli Naka, on a bike that was in bad condition. That is what made me stop to speak with him.)

And thank you to Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) for the good discount and service.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/
https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/

(PS – Rs 3000 is what it takes to donate a new bicycle; yes, because the balance, 2000 to 2500, is contributed by the recipient. J)

90th recipient – In this city you may sleep-hungry, not die hungry.

90 Milk Electrician Shailendra

90th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : “Bambai will give you the work for which you thirst. In this city you may sleep-hungry, but not necessarily die-hungry!”

Shailendra Bagwe. (37)

Milkman and Electrician.

Shailendra works as a milkman from 5 am to 9am, and thereafter he freelances as an Electrician.

He is born and brought up in the BDD Chawls, Worli. (The BDD Chawls comprises of 121 buildings, part of a family of colonies that were conceived in 1920, with the setting up of the Bombay Development Department. The BDD chawls represent a colonial vision of working class needs – symbolized by the barrack like rooms along corridors that end with common toilets.)

Shailendra could not study beyond the 10th, because his father lost his job when the Spinning Mill he was working at shut down, and thereafter Shailendra had to earn a livelihood to help his family financially.

Since Shailendra had to begin earning a livelihood soon, he enrolled for an Electrician’s diploma course, at a government education institution, and then joined an established electrician to get hands on training. Along with that, to pay his way through his studies, he began to wake up at 5 am daily to deliver milk to households in his vicinity.

However, even before his father lost his job at the Spinning Mill, Shailendra was delivering milk on foot, right from the age of 12, to supplement the household income. I was happy we were helping someone as deserving as him, in our small way, thanks to our precious donors.

You know, the really nice thing about this fellow, when I met him at Worli, on my morning ride, there was a deaf and mute fellow with him. And after that. whenever I passed him on my rides, that same deaf and mute fellow was mostly always present with him.

So I asked Shailendra, what does this fellow, the deaf and mute guy, do hanging with him all the time.
Shailendra said ‘I let him hang with me so he can do some odd jobs here and there for me and for some others, and help him make a living in whatever small ways he possibly can.’

I was really impressed! In the simple manner on how Shailendra helps a person not related to him. Reflecting on his actions, I told myself, you do not have to have a social initiative like Bicycle Angels or any other, to really help someone or anyone. If you step outside your door and stretch your arms out to embrace someone, your arms will encompass at least one soul in them who needs a ‘lift’. Because, even a man who wakes up at 5 am to deliver milk for a living, then works from 9 to 8 as an electrician, is gifted with a heart as large as some of our biggest and genuine NGOs, even if his arms do not hold in them resources like those NGOs do. Great deeds are done by the heart, even if they be executed by your hands and deputies.

Shailendra operates the milk delivery profession along with his uncle and another fellow, and they have one bike between them to share. I thought it will boos their business if they have two bikes between them.

To sum it up, I asked him, he being born and brought up in a location like BDD Chawls, where most families must be surviving on much less than many others in this city, courting adversity and hardship on a regular basis, what is his learning of the city of Mumbai and her people.

Shailendra smiled at me, like a child eager to share his secret, and told me – “In this city you cannot go hungry. You won’t die of hunger.”

Long after he had left with his new bicycle, I continued to wonder about what he had said. In this city one cannot go hungry, one cannot not find a livelihood. The city may not pay you well, you may not eat well every day, you may not have a meal three times a day, but if your hands are most willing to work, your legs most willing to slog, your mind most willing to be engaged fruitfully, Bambai will give you the work for which you thirst. In this city you may sleep-hungry, but not necessarily die-hungry, if you willingly submit to her formidable will to make you thanklessly work.

David Mckay had said – The privilege to work is a gift, the power to work is a blessing, the love of work is success!
I would like to add to his quote: ‘And the opportunity to work is nothing less than a miracle!’ So we must value those that come our way.

Thank you to KS, Pooja Bhavin Sanghvi, and Meghna Rodrigues, for donating this bicycle to Shailendra; Shalendra contributed more than half towards its cost.

And thank you to Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) for the good discount and service.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/
https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/

(PS – Rs 3000 is what it takes to donate a new bicycle; yes, because the balance, 2000 to 2500, is contributed by the recipient. J)