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