115th recipient – “Message in a glass bottle I threw out to sea, hoping my soul mate will come looking for me. That exactly, is how kindness will find me. The kindness that I will send out for those at sea.” @ RB.

115 milk Balaram by surabhi and deb mohan

115th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : A poetry-baazi post! 🙂

“Message in a glass bottle I threw out to sea, hoping my soul mate will come looking for me.
That exactly, is how kindness will find me. The kindness that I will send out for those at sea.” @ RB.

Balaram Mahipat Bare (43)

Milkman from 4.30 am to 9 am; post that, he works as a upper level domestic help and even as a Peon at various places in south Mumbai.

A ride along the sea coast, in the dark of the moon,
Was no great challenge, or so it was said;
So I mounted my beloved bike, turned on her head lights
And away, far before dawn, on well-lit streets, I sped!

I was riding very fast. Bathed in an orange-yellow glow from the lamps above. Cutting to shreds and humiliating the furious bitter-cold winter breeze challenging me on Marine Drive, riding past Chowpaty beach, early last month.

That’s when, I happened to notice in my peripheral vision a man carrying crates of milk on his shoulders. His back not bucking under the weight. It must have been around 5.30 am. He was carting the milk crates on the pavement opposite Chowpaty beach.

I made it a point to stop and talk to him, on my way back from my ride to the southern tip of magnificent Queen’s necklace of Nariman Point. The glowing street lamps providing the queen the glory of diamonds.

The man who had not buckled under the weight of the milk laden PVC crate, Balaram. I found out, he does not own a bicycle. However, if he could get one, he told me, thanks to our little help maybe, then even his son would use it, to help him in delivering milk sometimes, and in doing some other chores for himself and their family.

A good reason to buy him one, I thought. Most importantly, Balaram had agreed to contribute nearly half the cost of the bicycle, that’s if we bought a new one for him.

I gave Balaram my number, and told him to come meet me in Bandra someday. I rode off, rode on to challenge winter’s pre dawn chilly-tempest. 🙂

I am now reminded of a Poem, The Tempest. A really sweet poem of hope by James T Field. I googled it:

We were crowded in the cabin;
Not a soul would dare to sleep:
It was midnight on the waters,
And a tempest storm was on the deep.

’This a fearful thing in winter
To be shattered by the tempest blast,
And to hear the rattling trumpet
Thunder, “Cut away the mast!”

So we shuddered there in silence,
For the stoutest held his breath,
While the hungry tempest was roaring,
And the sea-waves threatened death.

And as thus we sat in darkness,
Each one busy in his prayers,
“We are lost!” the captain shouted,
As he staggered down the stairs.

But his little daughter whispered,
As she took her daddy’s icy hand,
“Isn’t our God upon the oceans,
Just the same as on our lands?”

True. Then we kissed the little maiden,
And we spoke in better cheer;
And we anchored safe in harbor
When the morn was shining clear.

Yeah, I agree. That was so random! Mentioning a poem just like that! 🙂 But I did because sometimes in life just like how a humble cycle can challenge a tempest and ride through, a little girl on a ship carrying mighty men who steer her to great wars remind them that they need to keep the faith in God. Little things can help us achieve mighty things.

Balaram is from Maharashtra. Raigad. His daughter lives back in their village at Raigad, along with his old Mother. She is a good student and even looks after her grandmother and village home singlehandedly. His wife works in south Mumbai as a domestic help at various homes, their son lives with them in Mumbai.

Balaram was very worried that his son, who did not fare well in the tenth standard, is not studying any further beyond the tenth, so his future may not be good. However, his son has no completely given up on educating himself. He is doing a technical course. Learning the technical skills to work with gems and jewelry, and he hopes to find a good livelihood in that sector eventually.

I decided to send Balaram’s son some unsolicited, but pretty good, advice. I told Balaram that when he takes the new donated bicycle home, he must tell his son – “This new bike we have received is due to the kindness of some strangers. The donors are educated people, and because they studied well and went to college they were able to reach a position in life from which they are able to reach out to someone like your father. In today’s times, and with me, your father, still being alive and able to pay your fees, a university education is most likely to help you find a pretty good mainstream job.”

If his son takes it up, our advice, and continues his education beyond the tenth, then this bicycle donation, made by Surabhi Shah and Deb & Beni, would become truly worthy.

I must share an interesting anecdote behind Deb’s contribution towards this particular donation.
Deb is a multiple times past donor, a very enthu one. Last month, Deb found a wallet someplace, and, somehow, he managed to trace the wallet’s owner, after much difficulty, as there was no ID of the owner in this lost and found wallet.

Eventually, the owner of the wallet having been traced turned out to be a Jordanian, and he came to collect his wallet. Deb was not around, and before he left, he left behind some cash, maybe as a gift, a reward, or maybe simply as gratitude, I think.

When Deb arrived and saw the money the Jordanian had left behind for whatever reason, he had no option but to accept it. Immediately, Deb messaged me and told me about the incident, and said he wants me to invest the Jordanian stranger’s money in a bike donation, any day that I can. He sent the money across to me via a bank transfer.
The Jordanian’s gift money he remitted was tiny, only in monetary terms. But the Jordanian’s action was larger than the many oceans and continents his gratitude travelled to reach me. Deb lives in the US.

The token of gratitude the Jordanian left behind and Deb transferred to me, when put to such humble use, like a bicycle donation, or any other charity, it cannot be quantified. Even the best mercantile minds will never be able to quantify charity’s real benefits. The benefits to its eventual recipient, in our case Balaram and his family!

That is the true beauty of engaging in any kind of charity, I believe. See, the world is always putting a value on everything we own, even if we are not wealthy. What we choose to own and retain, they will evaluate and cherish. But, they will never be able to quantify the benefits of what we choose to give away to help another. That is where we can be one up on those who are always trying to put a value on our real ‘worth’. 😉 :p :)))

Like a poet out of work I romanticized, that the Jordanian’s money reaching us was akin to a message in a glass bottle thrown into the ocean by the Jordanian, hoping that a benevolent current will carry it to someone who can really benefit from its contents. Deb became that sea current that carried that Jordanian’s message in a bottle across to Balaram, who I happened to find close to a sea shore, Chowpaty beach. This is inspiring stuff, I thought!

“Message in a glass bottle I threw out to sea, hoping my soul mate will come looking for me.
That exactly, is how kindness will find me. The kindness that I will send out for those at sea.” @ RB.

Now you may wonder why I, randomly, wrote this verse. Yeah! Me too wondered, after penning it. I have no clue why I wrote it. Well, if it sucks, well, then suffer it! Just like I suffer me all the time! 😉 :)))

Anyways, one particular moment with Balaram, which was memorable, was, his response to my question, “Who does Mumbai belong to?” Because, some influential people say it belongs only to the ‘sons of the soil. I wanted a common man to give me an answer.

Balaram laughed aloud. As though it was the dumbest question he had ever heard. Or, that the answer should have been evident to me, someone who may have come across to him as a ‘knowledgeable’ person.

He replied, “Mumbai usski hai, jo subha jaldi uth kar kaam kar sakta hai. Jo mehanat karega, roti rozi kamane ke liye. Mumbai uski nahi, jo sotaa hi rahega, ya phir apna time aur zindagi faltu mein waste karega….”
(Mumbai will belong to the one who will, is willing to, wake up even before dawn to work, if need be, and not loiter about aimlessly by day or night. Mumbai can be his, belong to the one who will respect work, find a job that will occupy his dreams and his life.)

Noteworthy. Because, Balaram did not mention any caste, creed, race, or religion to who Mumbai belongs. I think, he left that for a few regressive politicians to express solely to their vote banks. 😉

Anyways, enough ‘gyan baazi’ for now, 😉 and before I sign off, let me lighten up our mood, just a bit, with another random poem baazi:

Bikes rides through, or beyond, my neighborhood
Are such a bloody ‘very relaxing thing’
Who knew that a task as hard, yet cool, as this
Could make my heart fly, and my soul sing.
@ RB.

Thank you Surabhi, Deb and Beni; 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. 🙂 )


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