112th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : What determines our destiny to be, can anyone beforehand see? What we become, our future, are we predestined to see? Where will roads lead, and bend, until it will for us all end? Hey, destiny calls, just live a life knowing it’s predestined to end.

112 dhobi chediram by vikram seth

112th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) :

 

What determines our destiny to be, can anyone beforehand see?

What we become, our future, are we predestined to see?

Where will roads lead, and bend, until it will for us all end?

Hey, destiny calls, just live a life knowing it’s predestined to end.

 

 

Cheddiram Kanojia (57)

 

 

Dhobi (laundry service)

 

 

Cheddiram is from UP. Educated till the 12th Std., he could not study any further because his father, a dhobi, passed away; so Cheddiram had to take in his young hands the reins of running their household.

Afterall, he added, he had a dependent younger brother and sister and his mother to care for being the eldest.

 

 

Being the eldest, he said, he sacrificed his education to look after their family, even though they did not lack money to educate him further. Thereafter, Cheddiram’s mother and he worked the fields now and then, because they owned some amount of cultivable land too, and simultaneously he took up his late father’s profession of a dhobi.

 

 

Martin Luther King, (guru of US President Obama, but whose guru was our very own father of nation Mahatama Gandhi!), believed that progress of a human being is neither automatic nor inevitable. It involves sacrifice and or suffering.

I have believed that every step toward the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in our head requires sacrifice, sometimes suffering, and inevitably struggle. An emotional struggle, if not financial.

 

 

Eventually, someone he knew offered to help him migrate to Mumbai. In Mumbai he began working for someone at a paint factory. However, he could not bear the fumes of paints and decided to be a dhobi, just like his father.

Lucky fellow, I thought, that very early on he preferred the smoke from burning coals (that give us such a perfect crease to our garments!) to the ‘lethal’ fumes of lead in paints that must have taken the lives of thousands of under privileged workers.

Thankfully, since some years now, the use of lead in paints has stopped due to a government imposed ban. Having said that, the smoke from coals also harms, it has caused asthma in many people who use firewood to cook.

 

 

I asked Cheddiram if he believes in God and God’s miracles.

He replied, of course he does! Getting a new bike from us is nothing less than one. His old bike was stolen a month ago and he happened to meet a stranger on the road who recommended him to me.

 

 

Cheddiram was recommended to me by Basant Kumar De, a past recipient we had donated a bicycle to. Basant happened to see Cheddiram walking on the street in Bandra with a load of laundry clothes, and out of concern enquired from Cheddiram why he is not ferrying his laundry on a bicycle, the way most dhobis do?

 

 

On learning that Cheddiram’s (old and rusted!) bicycle was stolen nearly a month ago, Basant called me a few weeks ago to ask if we could help Cheddiram.

What I found commendable about Basant Kumar’s recommendation was that Cheddiram was a stranger to him. Yet Basant helped him. By recommending Cheddiram to us Basant did for him what many of us may rarely experience, but are fortunate when we do – the random kindness of strangers.

 

 

Basant is a very interesting fellow. He was the 43rd recipient of our help, and I suggest you read about him : (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152177306808213&set=oa.357090647765413&type=3&theater),

because his story about how he came to Mumbai and became a paan-leaf (Beatle leaf) seller is absolutely fascinating! His journey from his village to Mumbai is stuff movies are made of!

 

 

I asked him which has been his happiest moments in life.

The happiest Cheddiram has ever been was when his children were born. In his opinion, there can be no greater moment of happiness for a parent than that in which their child emerges into the first dawn of life. The birth of his children has been his happiest moments so far. Money may not remain with you, but your child will, he believes. (He has a son, and daughters. His son helps him in his profession now and then when the need arises, he said proudly.)

 

 

Having said that, Cheddiram is aware that sometimes children betray or abandon their parents, when they or their parents grow older, and they do that not necessarily because their parents have  grown weaker or poorer. There are other dynamics we cannot get into on this forum.

However, that is destiny or fate, and one must survive the consequences and circumstances of a life lived. There is no escape from this maze, until its end.

 

 

What determines our destiny to be, can anyone beforehand see?

What we become, our future, are we predestined to see?

Where will roads lead, and bend, until it will for us all end?

Hey, destiny calls, just live a life knowing it’s predestined to end.

 

 

Thank you to Vikram Seth for donating a new bicycle to Cheddiram. (Cheddiram also contributed substantially, nearly half, towards the cost of his bicycle.)

 

 

I must add, Vikram (and my past donors Ankita, Brijesh, and some others)  told me they made their children read or know about their donation.

 

I too have been sharing every post of Bicycle Angels with some members of my extended family, (I email them) especially those who are affluent, because, it is a first-hand opportunity via their friend and relative (me) to become aware of some of the challenges, hardships and issues the ‘aam aadmi’ (common man) survives, often with contentment and happiness.

 

 

I confess, the fact that people like Vikram, Brijesh, Ankita, Gunjan, and some others share these posts with their children, it gives me an additional motivation to go out there and ride or walk and do that little bit which we all hope can make a small difference, if not a big one, in someone’s life.

 

 

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. 🙂 )

Advertisements

111 th recipient – Gurgaon donation organized and executed by Prashant Neha Taneja.

Image

10914755_10153026403419935_233637737600624050_o

 

 

111th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle- Gurgaon Chapter):

“He is having clubfoot disease, also called congenital talipes equinovarus (CTEV), is a congenital deformity involving one foot or both. The affected foot appears to have been rotated internally at the ankle. Without treatment, people with club feet often appear to walk on their ankles or on the sides of their feet.”

Rakesh Bakshi and his noble work is my motivation for help. I came to know through his articales on Beautiful Bicycles Beautiful People/ Bicycle Angels (Donate a ‘livelihood’ bicycle/a bike.

Sukumar Santra (35)

Gardener in our society – Orchid Petals, Gurgaon.

Sukumar has got liability of four people on him and is the only earning member of his family. He is basically from a small town near by Kolkata and could not earn a sufficient living in Kolkata to bear the expenses of his family thus shifted Gurgaon to earn his living. He works as a gardener in our society and post that works as a household help in some homes. He is father of two daughters, studying in 9th and 10th standard.

He is suffering from clubfoot disease since childhood and cannot walk properly. He has lost his confidence on himself and getting a new cycle from the market is like a dream for him. When I met him and offered him help for providing the cycle he was so excited and could not even believe that he would be able to ride it ever.

Thanks a lot to Gauri Agrawal and Skilled Samaritan Foundation for giving me two cycles which I could donate to people post repair.

I am also thankful to my team and my colleagues ( Jatin Roy, Ashutosh Vats and Rajeev Ranjan ) who extended their help and contributed towards this noble work.

111th (A) recipient – Bambai sab ki kheti hai. (Bombay is a cultivable field for one and all)

111 Dhobi Ramdev

111th (A) recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : Bambai sab ki kheti hai. (Mumbai is a cultivable field for one and all.)

 

Ramdev Rajak. (46)

 

Dhobi (Laundry services)

 

Ramdev is from UP.

I met him while cycling in south Mumbai. His back wheel was wobbling, and the front shaking, I noticed as I sped past him uphill, but, immediately slowed down to chat with him while we rode. His bicycle sang in a squeaky rhythm, I thought, her rusted and wearied mechanical elements jostling and competing to sing the loudest.

 

Ramdev is educated till the sixth standard. He could not study any further because his father was a Dhobi in Mumbai and he needed him to migrate to the city and assist him in his profession, as he could not manage to run it by himself, considering he had a family of six sons to care for.

Eventually, all six sons became Dhobis! These fellows must have had a terrific monopoly in south Mumbai, I thought amusedly.

 

Over the years, all his six brothers migrated to Mumbai when they finished school, one by one. Like ants marching to their destined hill in search of their share of grain.

 

Had Ramdev’s circumstances not forced him to stop his studies midway and migrate to the city, he would have preferred to remain a farmer, as they had some quantity of land they were cultivating then, but agriculture was unable to provide their large family a sustainable and regular income.

 

Ramdev has three sons, the younger two are in school, and the eldest works with a garments exporter.

What I appreciated most about my donors buying Ramdev a new bicycle was, his old bike Ramdev will hand to his son who will ride it to work, thus saving the family some amount of money on public transport, and it will also be good cardio exercise for him!, I reasoned further. 🙂

 

Also, new, and even old, bicycles are stolen very often in Mumbai. So for a family whose livelihood depends on a bicycle, its very good for them to have a spare one, even if it be squeaky old, I have believed. Because, the day they don’t ride, can’t ride, they don’t earn. After all, they are nearly daily wages professionals. Moreover, Ramdev suffers from asthma, and riding a new bicycle having perfectly aligned new wheels will cause him to expend less energy on his rides, and not flare up his asthma.

Quite a number of good reasons, I reasoned, in helping this fellow who I saw struggling up Kemps corner hill on his old squeaky cycle laden with a hill of clothes.

 

Considering his father was once a farmer, and the fact that he would have preferred to have become a farmer rather than a dhobi, I was not very surprised by his reply to my question “What have you learnt about this city of gold that you chose to migrate to, after having spent more than 30 years here?”

 

Ramdev had told me Bambai sab ki kheti hai. Bombay is an agriculture field for one and all. What you sow you can reap, here.

Indeed. Mumbai is that fertile land that has the potential of being cultivated, and becoming the creator of many. Or an infertile field capable of cruelty, of becoming a destructor of the cultivator. Agriculture has destroyed some farmers, whereas it has also made many very rich. Mumbai is no different. Some people come here with nothing, and make everything! Whereas, some come here with everything but return to their village with nothing!

 

Ramdev said that sometimes people who fail here, especially those who fail because of bad habits like womanizing, alcohol, drugs, or other reasons, are left with no hope and no money to return home. In such a situation, Ramdev says, he and a few relatives or friends gather enough money to buy such a person a train ticket to help him return to his village.

 

They are miserable and broke, but at least they can return to the shelter of their forgiving homes, Ramdev had meant, while expressing empathy for those ants who had lost their march up the hill.

 

Sometimes when I ride my bicycle in the dead of night, or just before dawn, both times bathed in the golden-yellow street lights, in this city of gold, occasionally hit by long white high beams from approaching car lights, I think about the gold paved streets that many are able to see but few reap gold from.

 

In faraway places, of history new and old

they went looking for the city of gold.

 

Dose such a splendid place even exist?

There must have been places that men had missed?

 

The craze for gold ran through their veins

Looking for gold in streets hot like dessert plains.

 

Sun blazing down upon their head

Their spirits and fellowmen often ending up dead.

 

Very little water to quench their thirst

Who was that man whose life she (this mystical city of gold) took first.

 

With our fellow men, we all march on bold…

Some barren some happy souls looking for elusive gold!

(Poem adapted from Katherine Shaw)

 

Thank you Bindu Dhiman Agrawal, and Surabhi Shah for purchasing this new bicycle for Ramdev. (Ramdev contributed nearly half towards its purchase.)

 

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. 🙂 )

110th recipient – “Where hope used to dwell, there is now a hole in the world and within him, I felt. In which he is walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. Waking up from the slumber only to continue walking in the hole. No ladder, no elevator, no rope in sight leading the way out.”

110 veg kamlesh

110th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) :

“Where hope used to dwell, there is now a hole in the world and within him, I felt. In which he is walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. Waking up from the slumber only to continue walking in the hole. No ladder, no elevator, no rope in sight leading the way out.”

Kamlesh Kumar Gupta (25)

Fruit delivery and Vegetables seller.

Kamlesh is from UP. His father and sister have some ‘mental’ problems, because of which she is separated from her husband, and his father is not capable of earning a livelihood. His mother and he run the family. He could not study beyond the fourth standard because that is when his father developed ‘mental’ problems.
His mother works in the fields and earns daily wages to support them even today.

Kamlesh and his mother have tried all kinds of doctors to cure his sister and father of their ills, and spent a large part of their meager savings on them, yet, they continue to suffer. Kamlesh is convinced it is a ‘bhoot’ (bad spirits) that have invaded this family, and have been to all kinds of ‘babas’ (faith healers), on whom they have spent lots of money, but without success.

Kamlesh believes his father and sister, (and sadly, even his sister in law!) have lost their sanity, which is sad. He believes a ‘bhoot’ has invaded the homes within their bodies. That is sadder. But what was even sadder, for me, was that Kamlesh has lost hope. Hope that they can or will be cured someday, whether they get cured medically or ‘spiritually’

Where hope used to dwell, there is now a hole in the world and within Kamlesh, I felt. In which he is walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. Waking up from the slumber only to continue walking in the hole. No ladder, no elevator, no rope in sight leading the way out.
Such a fissure, such a chasm, such an abyss is one we need to avoid falling in, or get right out of, somehow. Somehow.

Kamlesh was a vegetables seller till six or seven months ago. He would transport them from building to building on his bicycle. His bicycle was stolen a few months ago. The theft, and thus the immense loss, compelled him to lose his independence and become a fruit-delivery-man for a hawker of fruits.

Without the aid of his beloved bicycle, Kamlesh could not sell vegetables anymore. So he took up the job of being a fruit delivery man since a few months, unable to save enough to buy a bicycle.

The reason he is so dependent on a bicycle to do his own ‘business’ of selling veggies, is, he fell two years ago and suffered an injury on his right hand. Since then he cannot lift heavy weights. So, he cannot lift the ‘tokri’ (cane basket) of vegetables above his head.
That is why his bicycle was his support system, his mate, as she gladly shared his burden on her formidable handle and back carrier. Truly being his means of livelihood.

This is one of the reasons I always think of their bicycles, these roadsters that our donors bestow on them, as nothing less than ‘Ferraris’ and ‘Lamborghinis’ for the recipients, and yet simply as ‘the humble giants on our roads…’.
Because, is it not on their formidable shoulders that so so so many people, many of them poor and hopeful immigrants to the city of gold, place their immense hope and persistent faith to earn their livelihoods!?

Therefore, I sometimes bow in solemn silence to these ‘most beautiful’ bikes when I zoom past them on my own fancy and far more expensive bicycles. 🙂

With the theft, and thus loss, of his bicycle, Kamlesh lost not just his independence but a good chunk of his daily wages income, because with a bicycle he was ‘self employed.’
That was a good reason, I thought to donate one to him. Especially since he was willing to contribute nearly half towards its cost.

A bicycle for a underprivileged man is such circumstances, I feel, will help him close the hole in his income and in his independence. Kind of empower him, ya.
And now, we only hope that Kamlesh even gets out of the ‘hole’ that he finds his father, his sister and even his sister in law in.

Thank you to Radhika and Ramit Mittal, and to Deepika Mirchandani, for contributing towards the purchase of this new bicycle donated to Kamlesh. (Kamlesh too contributed substantially towards its purchase.)

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. Thanks Gazi Ali for his photo.

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. 🙂 )

The Baraff wala. A disappearing profession in Mumbai.

10805624_10152913477293213_524865469327781641_n

The Baraff wala.

Subedar.An ‘Ice Man’ with a bullock-cart and a bike.

The bullock cart driven ice cart, a gradually disappearing profession from our childhood years. I happened to meet him on my bicycle ride to south Mumbai this morning.

Subedar-ji has an old bike all rusted and he uses it to deliver ice from shop to shop.
(His old bike can be partially seen, parked behind his bullock-cart in this photo I clicked this morning.)
He uses a bullock cart to carry the large quantity and his bike to deliver smaller orders.

He refused our offer to help him get a new bike. Content with his old one. A content man, I thought of him. Moreover, after politely refusing our offer for help, he held my hand to convey he is humble and not arrogant in refusing our offer. A deserving man, I thought further of him.

If anyone staying in south mumbai ever wants to feed a cow, (Gau seva) you may feed his. He has a bull, I think, not a cow. And his ribs could be counted. 😦 So, I thought I should share this post with you all. (His number +91 98-92-157929 )

Subedar rides his bullock cart at around 6.15 and 6.45 am in tardeo and mahalaxmi race course areas on road going towards mahalaxmi station. He parks his bullock cart opp one of the gates of the racecourse.

We going to donate a bike to him. 🙂 Definitely, someday soon!

When I was a kid, we would run behind the ice man riding his bullock cart. We would place our hand under his cart so that drops of melted cold water kiss our warm hands, sometimes rubbing the melted ice cold water on our burning faces in the sunday noon summer holidays heat. We waited for him everyday, and it is our ears that first announced his arrival, the jingles of the bells around his bull’s neck, calling out to us children to come share his melted ice water with us.

109th recipient – Summer. She is very cruel to us.

IMG_2743

109th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : “Summer. She is very cruel to us. When our taps run dry, we seek out friends who will be kind enough to allow us to come over and wash our dirty linen.”

Anil Bhikale (34)

Milk delivery from 4 am, Newspaper delivery from 7 am, and security guard from 9 am.
Anil migrated to Mumbai five years ago, from near Kolhapur, and lives at Lower Parel in a room with another one to two dozen migrants like him. His family is back in Kolhapur.

Anil is HSC pass, twelfth standard. However, his father could not provide for his further education, nor have a substantial income from farming/cultivation, so he encouraged Anil to migrate to Mumbai and try earn a living far better than what he will be able to provide.

Anil liked his family’s profession, farming, it gave him the freedom to be one’s own boss, even though it is excruciating hard work in unbearable sun and heat, and unpredictable results; yet, its better than being in a city far from home and his loved ones, he says.

I asked Anil, which is his happiest moment in life, or has been so far?
He replied, “I am happiest when my parents call me from the village; they call twice a week at least. My happiness lies not just in their calling, rather, its when they say they are well, doing well; that, makes me the happiest ever.”

Anil is the only child, no siblings. His parents cannot afford to even buy oil, cooking oil, so, he buys oil from the wholesale market in Mumbai and transports it through friends to his village. It was just ‘oil’ he mentioned, yet, he was as proud as he was buying a 24 carat gold biscuit from his savings and sending it to his father to deposit in their family’s safety deposit vault in some cooperative bank! Such, can be the value of one can of oil for so many families across our nation’s heartland.

Family. You certainly didn’t ask for them, and you can’t trade’ them for anything, but, out of the billions of human beings on our planet, and if life exists elsewhere then a few more trillions, from all these trillions it is only our family who will know best. They’re the ones who cherish you, and whom you should cherish in return, irrespective of the brothers and sisters who embrace us beyond them outside our homes.

I asked Anil about the most challenging times he has faced since he migrated, or continues to face in this ‘city of dreams’ that he chose to migrate to? A city he believes is helping him get closer to his dream, and his primary dream being to first provide for his parents.

Anil replied, “The summer. The summer of Mumbai is very cruel, ruthless, to people like us, who live in a room with more than a dozen other migrants. Because, almost every summer there is no water in our taps. What do we do then? We seek favors from some very kind friends we have made in this once alien land. They allow us to come over to their homes just to use their bathrooms to wash our clothes. So, we collect our dirty clothes for days until someone we know will open his heart to us and allow us in their home that has flowing water.”

Anil blamed the sun, for his water tap becoming a desert every summer; okay. But I rather blame our government. The state. Our elected representatives in particular. There is so much corruption that the milk in our taps meant for the ‘Anils’ from our nation’s heartland has flown into the coffins of some of our politicians. Not their vaults, but their coffins and pyres.

Why not vaults but coffins and pyres? Because corrupt politicians and bureaucrats believe they will be taking their ill-gotten wealth with them in their coffins and pyres. They don’t know or care that the wealth they earn from honest means will only go with them along with their karma, and with the blessings they leave behind with it.

Returning to Anil, how every summer he finds friends who allow him to come over to wash his dirty linen, well, our city has many kind people, I get tired saying this to some of my pessimist dear friends, or to those who are simply ill informed and not in touch with the pulse nor the breath on our city’s streets and lanes where the ‘Anils’ of India live. “Amchi aani Tumchi Mumbai. Jai Hind.”

Thank you to Dhruvi Ranawat for donating this bicycle to Anil. (Anil too contributed substantially towards its cost)

Dhruvi is five years young. Its her Birthday today! “Happy Bday dear Dhruvi.” Her father, Brijesh, donated this bicycle to Anil as a special gift for his daughter on her super special day.

Though just five, Dhruvi wanted to be present when her father hand this gift to Anil; so, post school she came over with her Mum to the store in Bandra to meet Anil; furthermore, Dhruvi was gracious enough sit on the bicycle’s top tube, just as many of us did, sat ‘double’ seat, as kids, when we rode with an elder from our family or with some older friends from our neighborhood. That’s when this accompanying photograph was taken.

Looking at his daughter seated on the bicycle, Dhruvi’s father said to me later, “Rakesh, Dhruvi was very happy today.”
Brijesh, so are we man. Happiness, and kindness, my friend, so bloody infectious!!!

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. )

108th recipient – “I am always riding or walking with two other people. ..

108 Dabba Sitaram

108th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) :
“I am always riding or walking with two other people. Each of these walking or riding companions serves me as my two walk-the-talk teachers…”

Sitaram Pokle (62)

Dabbawala (delivers lunch)
(The official site of these amazing professionals, http://mumbaidabbawala.in/ The dabbawals have been serving Mumbai’s population since more than ONE HUNDRED years.)

Sitaram is from Maharashtra; he migrated to Mumbai to earn a livelihood around 1979.

Sitaram’s father was a farmer, but the limitation of rain stemmed the output of their cultivation efforts year after year.
Of course, it would rain, but not when the crops needed water, so they would get ruined. And sometimes their prayers for rain were answered, but answered when the crops did not need water, so they got ruined.

Agriculture could not provide him more than a second standard of education, so Sitaram says he had no available option than to become a dabbawala. People from his village were dabbawalas, so he got introduced to this profession, and has been one since then.

Thankfully, he has been able to educated his son and daughter from this very profession, and his daughter is married. His son works at a hotel in Vile Parle and wants to progress in the hospitality industry, even though he is only ten standard pass.

I asked Sitaramji, he has been delivering meals since more than 35 years, and, has any one of his clients, ever offered him a spoon, a katori, a plate of the mouth watering meals, fods having mouth watering aromas, he has delivered religiously on time day after day six days a week?
Sitaram replied, “No. Never.”
I realized, even i never did. Water was the maximum I had cared to offer them.

Sitaram and his brother are dabbawalas of Mumbai, feeding the population of Mumbai home cooked meals made by their loved ones, or chosen ones.
I myself received my lunch by the dabba for a couple of years, when I was in business.
My wife, (now my ex) would send me notes (sometimes love letters, sometimes jokes and doodles) in the dabba, often hidden inside the wrapped rotis/breads. She was inventive, ya, so I had to explore every tier of the dabba and unfold the rotis, least I gobble up her hand written notes.

She had written those notes, but they were delivered to me by the dabbawala-courier-messenger. He was someone I saw often when he arrived, ON TIME always, but he never spoke a word, never asked us for ‘diwali bakshish’, and he had an army discipline for time, punctual like good old Big Ben of London.

I found my dabbawala to be silent, hard working, dedicated, sincere, dignified. Shamefully, I never knew his name. I never asked his name. In retrospect, I wish I had and greeted him at least once in those three to four years he had loyally and royally served us.
I had savored every bite of those meals and notes sent to me with such affection, I wonder why I was not mature enough to pass on that happiness to the messenger and courier himself, my amazing dabbawala.

Since many months, I had been very keen, and so was my friend Siddhi, to donate bicycles to these amazing Dabbawals, someday we must….we had decided.
So, when I met the Dabbawalas association members, I told them if possible Bicycle Angels’ would like to help one dabbawala every month, God and donor willing.
Hmmmmm maybe this ambition is my payback time, our payback time, for these messengers cum couriers who delivered us, and continue to do so, happiness warm and fresh in a sealed dabba.

The Lunch Box, a Hindi film starring Irrfan Khan, is one film I would recommend people watch, in which a dabbawala happens to accidently deliver more than just a dabba of meal to two strangers. He delivers to two lonely beings, in a bustling city, companionship; something that each and every one of us sometimes lacks, and often desires. After all, we are social and lonely beings at the same time.

I asked Sitaram “What have you faced the biggest challenge or adversity in your life so far?”
He replied, “Humko kabhi bhi bahut zyada takleef nahi hua. Kaise bhi kar ke, hum chalte chalte yahan tak pohonch gaya.” (“I never faced so severe a challenge or adversity that overwhelmed me completely; somehow, I managed to slowly, gradually trudge, plod, tramp, march up to here, up to today.”)

Reminds me of something Confucius had said, from which I can say “I am always riding or walking with two other people. Each of these walking or riding companions serves me as my two walk-the-talk teachers. As we walk, together in a threesome, I pick out the good points of one to imitate them. And I pick out the bad points of the other to correct them in myself.”

Thank you to Amit and Priyanka Bakshi for donating this bicycle to Sitaram. Sitaram contributed nearly half towards its cost. We propose to refurbish Sitaram’s old bicycle and donate it to a dabbawala.
Hopefully we will, because, his old bicycle which has delivered thousands of meals and happiness, does not deserve to go to the kabadiwala, the junk dealer. No way.

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. 🙂 )

 

Many weeks after I met Sitaram, I happened to be with some people of immense wealth and status, and one of the guests, a stranger to me, cleaverly weaved into his non stop jabbering that he has dined with Prince Charles at a private ocassion he was invited to, privy to is what he actually meant. His shirt buttons almost tore, I thought, as his chest swelled with such ego, when he non-solicited-ly informed us, a motley group of people, as though we his poor country cousins, around at the dining table.
Cool ya, I thought of his privileged status to be able to dine with the ‘Rajah of England.’.
However, I am reminded of a warm conversation I had with Sitaram Pokle. I had asked Sitaram, which has been his happiest moment so far?

Sitaram gazed in the distance and quickly returned to meet my eyes and tell me in a soft voice, “Humko bahut kushi huva tha, jab ‘Englaandd ka Raajah’ hum dabbawala log ko milne ko aaya tha, bahut saal ho gaya. Abhi bhi yaad hai humko..”
There was a difference in their feelings; the stranger had narrated his tale about ‘VIP’ him going to meet Prince Charles at a private gathering with immense pride, and his chest buttons had almost burst with his ego.
Whereas, Sitaram shared with me his tale about the ‘Raajah of England’ coming over to meet his fraternity and him with an immense pride overwhelmed in happiness, not ego, and his kurta buttons too had busted with his chest swelling with pride, but it was pride in his fraternity and not himself alone.
Two people met the ‘Raajah of England”, one went to meet him, and the other the Raajah himself walked over to meet.   :)))