107th recipient – The petals open to the dawn skies receives the dew.

107 dhobi mahadev

107th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : “…. the petals that are willing to keep themselves open to dawn’s skies, will receive the cool dew from them, to sustain themselves through the day’s blazing and unforgiving sun.”

Mahadev Prasad Nirmal (58)

Dhobi (laundry services)

Mahadev is from UP, and in the city he lives in south Mumbai at present. He has a son, around 40, who works and lives at Khar Danda, Khar west, and he is employed with a Dhobi, ironing clothes for a living. Mahadev had a daughter, she passed away due to an illness during early childhood.

Though both are dhobis, father and son are independent of each other, financially too. Mahadev chose to make his son independent because he rather work alone, he says, with his own rules and principles, and meets his son now and then socially.

I thought that Mahadev making his son independent, and not dependent on the limitation of his own limited work as a Dhobi, is a good decision Mahadev made for his son.
Because, true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Both, in my opinion, are what Mahadev really gave his son, unknowingly maybe, even though he could not give his son the world at his feet, which must be the dream of so many parents, poor and rich.

Mahadev’s father was also a Dhobi, back in the village, but because he could not earn enough to educate Mahadev beyond the ninth class, Mahadev, after he failed the ninth, migrated to Mumbai to find work as a Dhobi, simply because that is one profession he knew well, thanks to his father, learnt it at his feet.

Hmmmmm, Mahadev’s father, I thought, could not give him further education, but because Mahadev assisted his father from a young age, he got a lifelong profession from him. Just watching his father and helping him now and then, always willing.

See, I thought to myself hearing him travel into his past, …. the petals that are willing to keep themselves open to dawn’s skies receive the cool dew from them, and that dew will sustain them through the day’s blazing and unforgiving sun.

The profession of being a Dhobi has not earned Mahadev much, as much as he would have liked, he had admitted when I happened to randomly meet him on my ride one day through Peddar road, but, it gave him proper meals, proper shelter, dignified clothes and an education for his son, who is today financially independent (even if he be a dhobi).

Mahadev feels this much is good enough too, the little most will say he earns, considering he came here uneducated and had no other skill other than what he learnt at the feet of his father, and which paid off. He can earn more if he works harder, but has somewhere drawn a line between too much and too little.

I am reminded of one moment of humble learning from my own father.
I once asked my father, (with pride in him as a very good lyrics writer, because he was forever working with the top directors, top producers and top actors, for over 40 years)…. I asked him that I believe he writes better than one other lyricist who is not as consistent as him, nor as good as him, yet that lyricist charges much more than him (my father), so then, why does he (my father) not raise his fee?! , charge a little more than that ‘lesser ‘lyricist?! (Btw, I was a ‘businessman’ those days, and not really a good one at that 😉 and had not as yet arrived in the filmmaking and writing profession which truly matured me.)

My father replied, with patience, “I am eight class fail, a refugee of the partition, uprooted overnight, lost all we owned, migrated overnight from Rawalpindi to Delhi, and back in Karachi I was simply a cadet in the Royal Indian Navy before partition, and then post the partition I was simply a soldier in the Indian army, and I earned a maximum of 75 rupees a month in the less than ten years I served the Indian armed forces. When I volunteered to paratroop, which I did, I did that only because for that they paid us a few extra rupees.
Now, from an average income of Rs 75 rupees a month to having become a lyrics writer for over 630 movies and 3500 songs, over 40 years, what more can I possibly want, especially considering that what I am being paid, is what I ask for without any regret, and rarely does anyone bargain with me to reduce my fee, there is some pride in that too for me.
Moreover, what I ask for, is not just good enough for me, but with that income I have brought up you four children and got three married…. So, what makes you think I am undervaluing myself or charging less than what you feel I deserve? Most importantly, for me, I do not see any reason why I should charge any more than what I need for myself and my family, as my needs are few and limited, though a few are quite expensive in nature….”

Though my father was content with how much he charged for his talent, he was passionate to write and leave with his boots on. And he did, working till the last month of his life and writing the lyrics of Mujhse Dosti Karoge, a Yashraj film, a top banner, his last release. His passion was to work, and not charge more than his rivals or someone I considered less better than him. Like Mahadev, because Mahadev had told me his profession does not earn him much, but he feels it will give him a livelihood until his last iron.

I think, like Mahadev, and my own father, we need to know from where we began and where we have reached, never forgetting our humble origins, our journey to our ‘today’, and value ourselves and the contribution we make, irrespective of what it pays or even if it pays less than what some others are paid in the same boat. That, brings contentment; contentment is not lack of ambition or desire, I learnt.

Thank you to Surabhi Shah, Dr Niraj Vora, Saket Ojha, Ekta Turakhiya, Nishant Patel, for donating, contributing substantially, towards a new bicycle for Mahadev; his old bicycle was running on blessings, I thought, when I saw him walk with it on Peddar road. (Mahadev also contributed towards this purchase.)

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. And to Gazi Ali.

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. 🙂 )

106th recipient – A father is such a thing. That even a giant of a son…

Dhobi Mansaram with ayaan and ahaan

106 th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : “A father is such a being. One, in front of whom, even a giant of a son will submit his worldly-acquired-ego, if any.”

Mansaram Raju Nirmal (60)

Dhobi (Laundry services)

Mansaram is from UP. I met him when he was pushing his bicycle, laden with an Eiffel tower height of clothes, near St. Andrews Church, Bandra west. I stopped to talk to him when I noticed his bike’s STEEL handle had got so corroded, with age and the unforgiving seasons, that there was a hole in it! His bike was so old, he could not remember how many decades back he had purchased her.
Yet, she was serving him faithfully even though she, like her owner, were in the silver of their lives.

Mansaram came to ‘Bambai’ when the fare to Bombay (It was not Mumbai as yet then) from his village was Rs 60. He could not recollect the year when he arrived here, but he remembered the fare he had paid.

I think it’s not that he has a bad memory. When he told me the reason why he could not be educated by his parents, and thereafter why he left his village to travel to a far away city to earn a livelihood, I realized, when you survive more on hope rather than a ‘peth bhar’ (stomach-full) meal, when you survive living a life where nothing really changes except the texture of your skin beaten by the sun, and rapid aging due to relentless hardships, in such circumstances it is possible you may remember only the fare that took you far from home, far from your childhood village. It happens when your family’s livelihood is at stake.

Mansaram has two sons, and two daughters, and his daughters are married, so is his elder son. His elder son works and lives along with him in Mumbai, Bandra west, and the younger one, unmarried, suffers from epilepsy, he remains mostly at home back in the village.

Though his younger son has made many attempts to get a job, because he has epilepsy he cannot find any decent work. Often at work, or en route, he suffers from epileptic fits and then his employers turn him away as they cannot shoulder the responsibility of his fainting at times.

Mansaram, like any parent, hopes someday his son’s epilepsy will be cured. He was sad about his younger son, though hopeful, but he was happy and very proud of his eldest son. The son who works with him. He says about him, “My son shares my work, and he looks after my wife and me, and my other son too. Though we are getting old. He is so good, every day, before I sleep, he even massages my feet. He does ‘seva’ for me.”

Mansaram beamed with pride saying this. Btw, this was his reply to my question to him, “…What is your best earning to date, what is your biggest and true wealth, to date..?” Moreover, this was the first time, during our conversation, that Mansaram beamed like it’s not just his son at his feet every night by his bed, but, in fact, at his feet are all the world’s possession that could have never been his.

Like a bolt of lightning, I remembered “daddy”, my own father. Even while Mansaram continued to speak about his son. I remembered, when we were children, ‘daddy’ would tell us, my brother and me, to massage his feet. Because we were light weighed, we would massage his legs by standing on them and push down with all our weight. Hahahahahaaa It was fun then. As we grew older, we began using our hands, because we got stronger, thanks to our parents.

However, as we children got even older and more stronger, strangely, we got shy of massaging his feet. The feet of a man we had continued to love, and then we rarely massaged his feet and legs through our prime youth. And I never thought anything wrong about that then, because, I guess, we kids just ‘grew up’, or something like that I must have subconsciously reasoned for stopping massing his legs on and off.

Closer towards my father’s eternal travel, when my father was hospitalized often due to an illness, and our ‘daddy’ had turned as frail as a fragrant rose petal on the wane, we would massage his legs, his feet, even though he would not ask, at the hospital and back home. Even my two sisters would, when they would come to see him.

I am glad I realized now how much those volunteered massages must have meant to daddy, before it was too late for us to give him something he had asked of us through our childhood and youth. And I realized this only in retrospect, while hearing this father, an old Dhobi, Mansaramji, sitting humbly in front of me and speaking with immense love and pride about the manner in which his son does ‘seva’ for him, even though he has turned old he had specifically added.

Yes, we do seva of our children, those we brought into this world by our choice. However, what matters as much, if not more or less, is the seva we will do of those who brought us here in the first place. Our beloved parents.

Speaking of fathers and son, I remember, one particular incident, when my father was admitted in the ICU, during his last hospitalization…. in the bed next to us was (actor) Anil Kapoor’s father, (film producer) Surendra Kapoorji, a very dear friend of my father of over four decades. A dear friend from the days when my father was just a ‘struggler’, and unknown in a foreign, but desired, land of ‘Bambai’ Surendra Kapoorji not only gave him a chance to write songs in his films but had also advised him on family matters.

Nearly every day, at the hospital ICU, I would see Anil Kapoor come to see his father, and Anil would sit by his father’s feet….. and, massage his legs. Just like my brother and sisters did for our ‘daddy’.
I had always known Anil Kapoor as a good actor, and a good guy too, as I worked with him in Subhash Ghai’s film, Taal, (I was an assistant on), but here I witnessed a good star-son too, a good ‘son’ at the end of the day.

A father is such a being. One, in front of whom even a giant of a son will submit his worldly-acquired-ego, if any.

Thank you to Ankita and Himanshu (Lal Batti) 😉 Shah for donating this bicycle to Mansaram. Mansaram too contributed towards its purchase.

I must add, when Ankita called me up to donate a bicycle, she asked me if it’s okay for her two sons to be present when the bike’s recipient visits the bicycle shop to collect the bike. Because this donation is her gift for her two sons on their birthdays that fall in this month; It’s Ayaan’s birthday today, 25th Dec, and it’s Ahaan’s bday on the 31st Dec.

Ankita and Himanshu wanted both their children to witness Mansaram receiving his bicycle. Because she wanted her children to know what ‘charity’ really means, and for that its important they witness the donation themselves, while they are still young.

I think such good values acquired so young will never leave them. Even when both grow out of their boots, out of their school uniforms, and college, and their parent’s home; such values acquired while young will remain within them when they build their own someday. So I happily arranged for both her sons to be present at the shop so that they can meet and greet Mansaram when he arrives to collect his donated bicycle.

Love to them, and we wish them both, Ayaan (7) and Ahaan (5), a very Happy Birthday. Love.

One more thing, I was always known to Himanshu, (Ankita’s husband). But I got acquainted to her when I would visit my Dad at the hospital. In the waiting room outside the ICU she and Himanshu would we waiting too, for their relative who was admitted.

It’s such a coincidence, that the person she happened to donate a bike to turned out to be someone who simply happened to remind me of the very days I had spent at a hospital where I first got acquainted to Ankita.
Furthermore, I know how much Himanshu will connect with what Masaram said, so proudly, about his son doing ‘seva’.
Because that is what Himanshu, and his family, did for someone we all would consider as the closest friend and relative anyone can ever have. A Mother. God Bless.

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 to Gazi Ali too.

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. 🙂 )

105th – Even if you have a shortcoming, you have a value. Assert it!

akankshah sonawane

105th recipient of help ( a wheelchair) : “Even if you have a shortcoming, you have a value. And dignity. Assert it.”

‘Tigress’ Akankshah Sonawane. (12)

Akanksha is a special child.
She lives in Chembur with five sisters and her parents. Her mother works as a house maid, and her father works with the BMC as a street sweeper.

Three months after she was born, her parents noticed Akankshah is not as ‘active’ as children normally are at her age. Her mother had two ‘normal’ daughters before her, so she understood that something in their third child is amiss.

Thereafter began many journeys to various destinations. Her parents walked and rode many paths over many miles with this special child. Carrying her closest to their chest on these travels, closer than they had carried their two earlier children.
With baby Akankshah held firmly in their arms, they visited doctors, hospitals, fakirs, Pir Babas, natural springs, various places of worships, various faiths of medicine, tirelessly, faithfully, with unrelenting hope, with a persistent and consistent prayer on their lips, hope as bright as the sun in their chest, faith as solid as diamonds that somebody someplace sometime will have a cure for their daughter. None arrived.

After many years of diagnosis, at various hospitals in Mumbai, they discovered their daughter certainly has cerebral palsy (CP). A condition, from birth, when the brain does not receive adequate oxygen. The result – Akankshah cannot speak. Akanksha cannot walk. She never has. That is why they needed a wheelchair, as she is now 12 and getting too heavy for her parents to carry even to school or for her physiotherapy sessions a few kms away.

One thing that fascinated me about Akankshah. She is just like many of us! – Akankshah loves NEW clothes!
When she gets upset for any reason, or if they sense she is sad about something, they make her wear new clothes, and then she smiles like a thousand valleys of sunflowers!

Such is her fondness for new clothes, that she asks her parents to make her wear new clothes nearly daily. Now, how do they do that? How can this lower middle class family afford to do that? But they dote on her. So, they found a way!

They present her old clothes to her mixed with new ones, because as long as there is something new in her attire Akankshah is okay wearing even her older clothes.
Necessity is indeed the mother of invention, is once again proven, this time by these humble parents.

When her siblings run all over the place, naturally, even little Akankshah wants to give chase. Maybe run even faster. Like I had always wanted to and I did when I was her age. So we know that Akankshah must desire this too. And this little tigress tries. She tries to get up and run, even now. Even after 12 years of failing at it, she tries!!!
I HAVE NOT SEEN SUCH DETERMINATION IN SOME MOST ABLE PEOPLE I KNOW! Not even in myself most times. In retrospect, I give up on some things quite easily.

One more thing about this little tigress. Hey, someone ought to put a board near her that points straight to her and cautions: “Do not dare tease this tigress. Do not dare be mean to her.”

Because, when someone teases her and tries to get away, run away, someone who has been mean to her, Akankshah grabs them by their hand or leg, whatever comes in her feeble grasp in that fraction, and wallops them literally!
(Even though, they say, her grasp and hands are feeble, and her hand trembles even if she has to carry food towards her lips or hold a glass of water to sip even one drop.)

Hahahahahahhaaaa Serves them right!, I thought laughing on all those poor kids who must have received little Akankshah’s ‘treatment’ and justice.
See how even a special and feeble child knows how to get ‘even’, and won’t let anyone get away with their meanness.

Maybe, I pondered, there is a lesson in here for us, from little special Akankshah, – it does not matter what be your shortcoming/s, you have a value, and dignity, and only you can assert it. Sometimes you should not let people get away with something you perceive you do not deserve, something you do not deserve to be subjected to, even if it be ‘just a joke’. Because even ‘just a joke’ from someone has sometimes scarred each one of us.

Akankshah’s father said to me while explaining her CP condition, ‘….doctors say that blood does not reach her brain as much or as normally as it does for others like us….’
Medically speaking, I do not know what he meant by that. However, look at how much reaches her – Akankshah understands when if someone is being mean to her. She understands if someone is being funny, trying to make her laugh. She understands colors, as she loves some colors more than others. She comprehends her parent’s tears. She senses their efforts to please her with something sweet to eat or a new dress to wear. She understands what a smile means. Because, Akanksha reacts to all of these, each of them, even if we think she is limited in an unlimited way.

Akankshah loves to watch TV! At the dot of seven in the evening she knocks on the furniture and points to the TV set. She dances to the music that plays on various channels. She likes to go to places where music plays, because she swings her upper body and arms to the beat. Her siblings often join her on her private gigs!

Akankshah’s love for music and dance remained floating in me long after her father had left, long after the hot noon sun had become colder. I remembered I had not heard music since a couple of weeks, ever since I had returned from a long outdoor trip of seven days. Somehow, I had just lost touch with music ever since then.

That night, after I returned home from my evening walk, and after I had my shower, and just before I had my dinner, I blasted one of my favorite underground deephouse tracks. Music that I had been addicted to over a few months.

I did not rock to the music like Akanksha does, I doubt I can match a special child’s innocence, energy and enthusiasm, but I was glad it is she who had unintentionally reminded me to return to something I have always loved doing. Thank you Akankshah. Inspiration, like music, lies everywhere, only if you are open to hearing her notes everywhere. Even when they play during silence.

This wheelchair has been donated to Nyrika by Siddhi Sanghvi, who dedicates her humble gesture to her darling Nyrika Handa. :)))

My friend Siddh had told me many months ago, to try and find someone who needs a wheelchair, because she wanted to gift something special to someone special on her darling Nyrika’s approaching birthday.
Well, though many sunsets turned to dawns since then, eventually I did find someone as special as Akankshah; someone very special for her doting loving parents. Someone who even inspired me to return to my music after a very long gap, and had I not then the gap could have got longer. Which, in my humble opinion, makes Siddhi’s gift for Nyrika even more endearing for me.

(Belated) Happy Birthday dear Nyrika. 🙂

And thank you Dr Indu (Murali Krishnan) for helping us locate inspiring Akankshah. 🙂

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

104th recipient – This is not an accidental universe.

104 bhel manoj

104th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : This is not an accidental universe.

Manoj Kumar Chaurasia (34)

Bhel wala.

Manoj is from Benares, UP. He has been living in Mumbai since 8 to 9 years. He arrived here because he had to earn a livelihood for his family, his father is a farmer and could not sustain his family on their agriculture income. He was in the 8th standard in school when his father could no longer afford to pay his school fees, so, Manoj had to drop out of school.

Incidentally, Manoj’s son is in the 8th standard today, and Manoj is determined his son will not suffer the same fate and be the first one in their family to study beyond the 8th! And by the grace of God, he adds, become a graduate one day.
My own father was 8th std ‘failed’ he would say, and he was determined that I be a graduate, so I could relate to Manoj’s ambition for his children,

Manoj spent a few minutes talking to me about his life, and though he knew it’s a very significant ‘interview’ he was being subjected to, because the result would mean he will probably receive the donation of a new bicycle; (for which he too was willing to contribute nearly half the cost).
yet, and I was glad for that, his mind was constantly preoccupied by his duties to his profession, because he kept getting up every few minutes!, and his body language clearly spoke to me saying ‘Bro, hurry up ya, I have to go earn my son’s school fees, ya. I need to educate him beyond what I was unfortunate to receive.’ 
So I let him off as soon as I could, which I rarely do, as he had immense value for his professional time, and that made me respect him even more.

Manoj resides at Nalasopara and sells Bhel near carter road. He has two sons and a daughter, all go to school. He was recommended to me by my Bhel wala who sells bhel on Perry cross road.

Manoj needed a livelihood bicycle so that he can use it to travel on it to fetch his ingredients daily from the market which is many kms from his house. He also will use the bicycle to carry water every morning from Virar to Nalasopara, a few kms away, as they have to buy water every single day for their household consumption. So far he brings the water cans on his head and shoulders which ache and get sore with the weight.

Moreover, Manoj needs the bike for his son who walks to school from Nalasopara to Virar or sometimes takes the public transport. This bike will help the family save some money. Furthermore, his son will also use it to travel to an evening workshop which he attends to learn the profession of being an Electrician.

A deserving family, I thought, as I listened to him (speak in such a hurry as he was just waiting to run away so he can go sell Bhel! He kept getting up every few minutes to leave! Hahahahaha!)

He was very surprised, bewildered, that someone is willing to contribute almost half towards donating him a new bicycle, as no one had made him such an offer before.

So I asked him if he does charity now and then, and if he does, then what does he do, how does he help the unfortunate?

Manoj replied, “Often, I offer Bhel to destitute I see on streets. They are not beggars, but I feel I can help them in this way. Or, when I am travelling from Nalasopara to Khar by train, I often give money to the poor who ask for alms in local trains.”

I told him, “At your own level you too are doing charity. Don’t you realize that? When you offer Bhel to people who you consider less privileged, and those who are not beggars and did not ask you for help, did not ask you for alms, that amounts to charity. Most significantly, true charity, because you will never benefit from it. The kind of people you help can never possibly do anything back for you, so that’s true charity on your part.

Furthermore, you just told me a while back, that you are a Hindu and believe in God and in the traditions of Hinduisms and in Karma. The fact that my Bhel wala recommended you, the fact that I found you worthy, do you think that the fact you got this new bicycle from us is what you earned from your own good karma? So, why are you surprised!? Yes! You had already earned this bike, long ago Bro. Your karma manufactured this bike for you. My donors simply handed it out to you like a retailer.”

This is when Manoj cried.
Why? I am clueless. Maybe he felt rewarded for some random good acts of his, I think. Maybe most people’s goodness, random acts of kindness, charity, kindness, goes unrewarded. And when it is appreciated, acknowledged, and rewarded, their tears burst to the surface from a place where they remained buried for just too long.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you got to trust that the dots will connect in your future. You have to trust in something – be it your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever be your religious beliefs. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” @ Steve Jobs.

Steve Jobs said that. And it will make all the difference in the lives of others, is what I would add to his wisdom. The energy you release in this world, will come back to greet, meet, and eventually embrace you. So make the choices accordingly. This is not an accidental universe.

Thank you Mrs and Mr Thadani for donating this bicycle to Manoj. He too contributed substantially towards it. We thank you, because it is in your honor, out of immense love for you, that your daughter, Prachi, wished to donate a bicycle to someone needy and worthy, on her birthday this December.

(Happy Bday dear Prachi. I could not locate someone in time, before your Bday, and that’s why this donation on their behalf got delayed a bit.  )

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. 🙂 )

Do you question benevolent mother nature?!

Dabbawala download

I had a very interesting experience, when I visited the Mumbai Dabbawalas Association yesterday. (to make them an offer to try and help at least one Dabbawala every month with a new bicycle…)

One of the Dabbawalas’ , holding a senior post in their organisation, asked me, looking straight into my eyes without a blink, suspicion resting heavily on his eyelids: ‘Saab, aap ka iss mein kya faida hai?’ :p (Hey Dude, What is your benefit (profit?) in this offer you have made to us?)

Honestly, I was foxed for an answer. Maybe because I never had a reason when I could donate the first bike more than a year ago thanks to myself and my friends.

So, I fell back to Mother Nature, and asked this senior Dabbawala, with a smile ‘Do you ask the rain clouds why they pour rain over us? Do you question the snow on mountain tops why she melts herself to journey as rivers to the oceans, feeding all living beings on her way? Do you question the seed that outgrows herself to bear us trees flowers fruits? Do you! :p

Well, as I had intended and expected, he was stunned! 😉
I continued… ‘In your silence lies the answer not just from me, but also from my donors. Because I have never asked them their reasons why they offer to help people like your Dabbawalas, and they never give me one.’ 🙂

Just before I left that meeting, he was the only one who got up and offered me a hot cup of tea. It was an odd time to drink tea, so I politely refused. He literally forced the hot cup into my hands. 🙂

On your behalf I gracefully accepted it. And I enjoyed not just the tea’s extra sweetness, but also the Dabbawalas’ extra warmth. 🙂

I smiled on my way out. That, is one of the reasons, and I should have probably told him that, I thought in retrospect.

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

103rd recipient – How can I ask him for my old bicycle back. I had donated it to him.

 

103 dabbang vijay patil

103rd recipient of help (livelihood bicycle). Gentleman Dabbang Vijay Patil.

Dabbang Vijay Patil was the 76th recipient of help from our donors, KS, Deb Mohan and Beni Kithan; Dabbang Patil too contributed towards the cost of the bicycle donated to him by my three friends.

However, a few months after that, one day when Dabbang Patil had gone to deliver milk at Currey Road Station, after LOCKING his precious new bicycle, for which he too had contributed, some evil mind stole his bicycle!
He said he ran around and asked around if anyone saw someone take his bicycle, Sadly, no one saw or heard anything, he lamented to me, when he called me up to report the theft. He did not call me to ask me for money to help him buy another bike, but I think just to share in his sadness. I listened to him in silence and did not promise him anything about helping him again. I told him maybe he can take back the bicycle he has donated to his friend and I can buy his friend an old used bicycle in good condition. He did not comment on my unsolicited advice and our chat ended.

Many days tuned to nights…. even temperatures fell down from highs….. nights got longer… until this morning, around 6 am I saw him at the very same spot I had first spotted him, at worli, riding to work on a brand new bicycle.

Naturally, I stopped to chat with him, and he informed me he purchased a new bicycle, (from his savings). He did not ask me for money this time too, he was happy he was able to.
I asked him why did he simply not ask his friend back for his old bike with the assurance I am willing to buy his friend a second hand bicycle within a week.
He replied, ‘With what face can I ask a friend back for what I gifted him. I rather buy another one for myself than go back on what I gifted my poor neighbor.’

After finding out Dabbang Vijay Patil had paid almost Rs 5500 for the new bicycle, I decided to help him. I promised to contribute nearly as much as he had contributed when we had donated a new bicycle to him.

Read his brief story about why in the first place we had donated a new bicycle to him, to put into context why my donor pals decided to help him a second time https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152529344903213&set=gm.446017528872724&type=1&theater

Moreover, after he had received a new bicycle from my three donor pals, he had voluntarily donated his old bicycle to his poorer neighbor who sells flowers outside Siddhivinayak mandir. That gesture on his part alone had made him, for my donor pals, worthy of being helped a second time, I think.

Thank you Dr Niraj Vora, Surabhi Shah, Nishant Patel, Ekta Turakhiya, Saket Ojha, and myself, for assisting Vijay Dabbang Patil this time, a second time; (and of course, thank you to KS, and Deb and Beni, for being the first ones to assist a most deserving vendor like him.) Nishant dedicated his donation to his wife and parents. 🙂

I must say, the recipients so far feel fortunate they received help from our donors. Because, they have told me, time and again, no one in this world other than us has even offered them a new bike for their livelihood purpose. Never!!! However, there are few recipients like Dabbang Vijay Patil, and even like the 102nd recipient,

and even the 11th recipient, Sirtaj Ahmed Mian, https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151953217203213&set=gm.329823507158794&type=1&theater

in such cases it is we who felt fortunate we could help them in our humble way. Because often my donor pals graciously confessed to me, via messages on my phone or inbox, or emails, that it is they who have felt fortunate that they could be of some help to someone someplace they probably would have never reached. 🙂

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. )

102nd recipient – The real disability in life is having a bad attitude towards what you suffer.

102 Grass Sudarshanji

102nd recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : The only real and tragic disability in life is a bad attitude to your circumstances and to what you suffer.

Sudarshan Yadav (50 plus)

He sells dry grass (hay) to people who feed cows outside temples. He gets paid Rs 10 per bale of grass.

Sudarshan is from UP, and he is absolutely uneducated. Reason being, his parents could not afford to send him or his siblings to school.
His father was a farmer, and what was cultivated on their little bit of land was just enough to clothe them and bring just-enough-bread under their roof.

However, Sudarshan could not break bread for long with his family. At a very young age he had to migrate to Mumbai, along with a kind relative who showed him a path to walk, to supplement the paltry income of his father.

He has word hard over 40 years being here, city of gold, yet today, he has no shelter of his own in Mumbai. He lives off the mercy and generosity of some very gracious people who hold the power to deny him shelter under their roof, and he says are kind to allow him to park his bicycle at this secure shelter.

I asked him, how does he manage this? He replied, ‘With folded hands I ask them to allow me to sleep under their shelter. To them I seem too poor and harmless, so they allow me to live there in the nights.’

Initially, when he arrived as a youngster in Mumbai, he worked as a laborer, and he remembers so clearly he would easily carry sacks weighing 100 kgs on his back or head all by himself. The strength and ability to do that could and did earn him good amount of daily wages, he proudly said.

However, those days of ‘glory’ were quite short lived. One day, one very sad day, while Sudarshan was in the fields in Mumbai some place and cutting dry grass, along with a work mate, his work mate’s long knife’s, (the sickle’s), blade hit Sudarshan’s lower leg, and a very significant tendon, the Achilles tendon mostly, got cut and he bled so much that he fainted on the spot.

His work mate thought he had killed Sudarshan by mistake, so he ran away not just from the spot but left Mumbai. His work mate left the city forever, however, thereafter Sudarshan lost the ability to stand or use that leg on its own. (medically termed ‘foot drop’ I think) Now he has to put most of his body weight on his other good leg to walk or bicycle, or carry any loads.

Sudarshan mentioned the saddest thing that happened to him was not his poverty, nor the injury of his leg; but, it was that because of that injury he could no longer carry those 100 kg sacks, which robbed him of a substantial monthly income which had helped him raise his own family and his old parents. Now when he rides his bicycle for work, and if he brakes, he has to rest his good leg on the street to balance himself.
Thank God for even his small mercies, I thought to myself, that Sudarshan has one solid good leg. God keep it safe and strong.

Sudarshan’s employer knew him to be hard working and honest, so though he had injured in his one leg for life, his kind employer allowed Sudarshan to continue to work for him. He gave him the job of cutting grass and sells it to him for Sudarshanji to sell it outside temples in Juhu.

Sudarshan pays his employer for the grass and then carries it on his bicycle and rides to Juhu to sell it outside temples, and to people who own cows in their bungalows. He makes about two to three trips daily between Vile Parle East and Juhu for his profession.

Sudarshan has a family of 4 daughters. He had two sons, but they died during childhood. He said the reason for their death was simply their ‘destiny’.

I told him, considering and worrying that he is already seemingly old and frail, I hope he will be able to earn enough to marry off his FOUR daughters in his lifetime!
He said, ‘… I save money for them. I have deposited Rs 30,000 in the name of my eldest daughter. It will come of use to her someday.’

To give you some perspective on what Rs 30,000 can bring for someone as privileged as us, each of my three bicycles cost me nearly that much!
And here is a man who has saved and deposited that amount as his life’s savings for his eldest daughter, and he has three more to save for.

I probed further, and asked Sudarshan, does he worry that he may not be able to educate or marry off his four daughters, as all of them are still in school, and he is already 50 plus.

He replied, ‘I have told my nephew to look after them if anything happens to me. To help my daughters get married and help them keep their house. He is a good boy, I know he will be there for them if I die an early death.’

The most astonishing thing about his features was, he said he is 50 plus, yet, to me he seemed more than 60. He had so many wrinkles at 50 plus! I remember something most significant from Mohammad Yunus’s biography. (Mohammad Yunus is the founder of the esteemed Gramin Bank of Bangladesh, and he won a Nobel prize for his foundation which lends finance charitably to the poorest of poor women without taking any collateral from them. Yet he has no defaulters.)

In his biography, Yunus mentions, the turning point in his life arrived, (because of which he founded the Gramin Bank), when he happened to see some people struck by a famine. In his words he states, ‘… I could not recognize whether the victims I saw were male or female, nor could I guess their age; … I realized, that’s what prolonged starvation does to the human body. Ages it, withers it, annihilates it, even faster.’

I must mention, thanks to our friend Anushka I happened to meet Sudarshanji. Because I happened to see him on the street that leads to her house on our way to her place. Sudarshanji was waiting on the pavement to order a samosa, from a vendor selling them from a bicycle. I happened to be parked right next to the vendor. I was on the phone, with a friend, yet I heard him order just one samosa for himself.

However, he looked so terribly starved, I ordered some more for him, and then naturally we got chatting after my phone conversation was over. His bicycle was in a shape worse than his wrinkled skin. I offered to buy him a new one on behalf of my donor pals. He agreed, even to my terms, that he will have to contribute Rs 1500 if we buy him a new bicycle costing Rs 4500 to 5000.

Sudarshanji came to meet me the next day, for his interview, the day after I met him at Juhu, and after he told me about his life and times, I decided to forgo his contribution of Rs 1500. I knew that my donor friends will be most willing to pay the complete cost of Sudarshanji’s bicycle, on reading this anyways. I know them so well, they will find Sudarshanji most worthy of this humble gesture on our part, just as I did being one of the donors myself.

People say we have donated many bicycles and helped many worthy people to date, even though its just 102, but for me Sudarshanji was one of those few, out of the many other worthy recipients, who made me feel blessed that my friends and my God and our universe has placed me in such privileged circumstances that we are able to serve humbly people like him. Thank you to you all.

Thank you Satya, Siddhi, Pavitra, Ritu and Prakita and Hansika, Anushka, Raman, Ashiesh and Bharat, Keigan, Richa, Rohan, Shivam, and myself.
We together donated this bicycle to Sudarshanji on behalf of our dear friend Ambi, as it is her Birthday on the 8th; We all wish her a very happy Birthday. Love.

Ambi, knowing her so well, we know will be very happy Sudarshanji received her gift of this bicycle; and she will count this gift amongst those few most worthy gifts any one has gifted her. Gifts that do not need any kind of expensive wrapping, because such gifts arrive wrapped in a selfless love.

I could not stop thinking of this old looking man’s injured leg, and his slightly bent back. Bent not from carrying 100 kg sacks, but bent probably from having four young school going daughters at this advanced age, and the only real monetary security for them he has is one fixed deposit of Rs 30,000 for the eldest!

Sudarshaji had told me the saddest thing that has happened to him was not unfulfilled hunger, but the injury that caused him a lifelong limp and thus a loss in his daily wages income.

I asked him, does he feel anger towards his work mate who did this, unintentionally, to him, giving him a limp forever and a big fall in his livelihood income.
Sudarshan replied, ‘I forgave him long ago. I did, because I had found peace.’

Forgiveness and peace. Sudarshanji made both sound so easy! We all know forgiveness is not easy. At times, it feels more painful than the scars we suffered to forgive the one who inflicted the wound on us. Yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.
And Sudarshanji knows that. But had he not mentioned, regretfully, that he is ‘uneducated’.

Uneducated? Really?! I think he is not. Because Sudarshanji has what many educated people do not. Wisdom.

Sudarshiji makes us realize, the only real and tragic disability in life is a bad attitude to your circumstances and to what you suffer.

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. 🙂 )

101st recipient – Its about what you think about what you have.

 

 

 

Milk Dwarika Prasad ekta nishant ajay p

 

101st recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or makes you miserable or unhappy; it is what you think about what you have.

Dwarka Prasad. (55)

Milk seller.

Dwarka is from UP. His father was a milk seller too, and when he grew weak due to illness, to save the family’s only source of livelihood Dwarka took over his father’s profession. Because Dwarka had failed the 12th std, he thought this is the only job he can possibly do well, and a profession his father has already set up in south Mumbai over decades, so he arrived in Mumbai 20 years ago to take over his father’s profession when he was 19.

When Dwarka began in this profession, he would walk and deliver milk. Now he is training his son to be in this profession, so his son walks along with him to learn the route.

Dwarka has a family of two sons. His younger son is a farmer back in the village. But it is his profession, of delivering milk, that has sustained his family so far, not agriculture.

Dwarka told me, smiling, ‘I have been, from the beginning, a content person, I make do with little happily; I am a karam yogi, a doer, a man of deeds, and not one who will beg, but one who acts on his needs by deeds.’

Dwarka came across to me as a man of immense self pride and dignity. He sat opposite me with straight shoulders; his bicycle had sagged over the years, not his spirit. He was often smiling, and even laughing, while speaking with me. I thoroughly enjoyed helping him, through the kindness of our donors.

I asked Dwarka if he would like to donate his old bicycle to someone needy, now that he will soon have a new one. However, his old bicycle was in such a bad state, that he replied ‘I would have, probably, but it’s not worthy of being donated to another person, as it will only cost the receiver much in constant repairs. So I rather not.’ He smiled.

I asked Dwarka what does he think is his best quality?;
He replied, smiling, ‘Well, I always manage with whatever came my way. Whenever I had less I managed within that. I did not complain about not having any more. The day I could not eat more than a vada pau, I ate it with a smile.’

Dwarka has probably never taken a step beyond the spread of his legs. However, he has never stopped walking, nor running, even though his humble legs could never reach out far enough.

Well said, Dwarkaji, I thought looking at this graying man with bright eyes, so true is what you speak so casually. It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or makes you miserable or unhappy; it is what you think about what you have.
And you, Dwarkaji, have what many would pay lots to possess, not realizing what he has is something no coinage from any mint can ever purchase. However, it can be earned. 🙂

Thank you Simmi Kehr, Nishant Patel and Ajay Parswani, for purchasing this bicycle for Dwarkaji. Simmi dedicated her donation to her dear mother in law respected Late Mrs Rachna Devi Kehr; and Nishant and Ajay dedicated their donation to their children.
Dwarkaji contributed substantially towards the purchase of this bicycle.

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 to Gazi and Siddharth for sending me his pic with the bike.

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. 🙂 )