121st recipient – be a ‘Sardaar-ji’ to someone.

121 Milk Shyam Narayan Dubey

121st recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) :

“Be a ‘Sardaar-ji’ to someone.”

Shyam Narayan Dubey-ji. (80)

Milkman.

I was riding past Sassoon Docks, Colaba, holding my breath. I always do when I pass the gates of the docks, least I inhale the rotten water and fish smell that often loiters on to the main road, just like our ‘holy’ cows loiter at some of our most busy streets during even peak hours. There is no escape from either of them.

A foreign tourist, traveller and author Sarah Macdonald had remarked, about India, …. “It amazes me, that the Indian pedestrian will stop for the cyclist, the cyclist will stop for a motorcyclist, the motorcyclist will stop for a motor vehicle, the car will stop only for a truck or public or goods transport bus/truck, but the public transport and the Goods Carrier trucks will stop for no one, except one entity – the holy cow! Who will invariably park herself in the middle of the busiest streets without a care in the world!” Hahahahaha!

I too would not have stopped outside Sassoon docks that morning, for anything, as I was making my way towards Afghan church, had I not noticed an ancient looking man riding an ancient and dilapidated bicycle at pretty good speed along Colaba Causeway.

Somehow, I forgot about the fishy smell hanging in the air and stopped and began chatting with him. For me, such situations are like the bus drivers that author and traveller Sarah had mentioned who will stop for nothing but the ‘holy beings’. Our holy being, that morning, was Shyam Narayan Dubey-ji. Later I found out he is 80 years old! In Colaba area, they address him as Chacha.

Dubeyji supplies milk that arrives from dairy farms in and around Mumbai. He does not sell the government dairy milk.

Having met Dubeyji first while he was riding a bike, I was keen to hear from him how our city treats a cyclist like Dubeyji who is 80.
He had an interesting perspective on motor cyclists in Colaba area; he complained they ride on the wrong side of the road very often, and if they come in his way they expect him to stop or move out of their way, and they are often arrogant and abusive too. Motorcyclists, Dubeyji complaints, have no respect for cyclists.

Not even one his age?! Well, such is life! Sad. But let us end this story with a beautiful thought on the golden years, written by one of our favorite poets:
“The complete life, the perfect pattern, includes old age as well as youth and maturity. The beauty of the morning and the radiance of noon are good, most beautiful; but it would be a very silly person who drew the curtains and turned on the light in order to shut out the tranquillity and serenity of evening.” – W. SOMERSET MAUGHAM.

Dubeyji arrived in Bombay when he was 15-16 years young. When he arrived here, he was picked up by the wings of an angel. That angel was a ‘Sardaarji’. That is the name Dubeyji addressed the Sikh gentleman, the owner of a very big and successful milk dairy in Colaba then. Dubeyji said, had Sardaarji not allowed him credit for as much milk he can sell, he would probably not have survived here during his initial years in Bombay. In Navy Nagar, Colaba, the Sardaarji had founded a Gurudwara, Dubeyji informed me.

Many years ago, once when Sardaaarji fell very ill, he called for Dubeyji. On learning that his beloved Sardaarji is unwell, Dubeyji rushed to his house. On seeing his ‘Sardaarji’ unwell, he told him he is willing to do anything for him right away. He can drop all the work he has for the day if his ‘Sardaarji’ needs him to take him to a doctor or a hospital. His wish would be his command, he assured the ailing Sardaarji.
Sardaarji assured Dubeyji, that his family is looking after him well, and all he wanted was to see him. He (Dubeyji) should now return to his work.

As instructed by his beloved Sardaarji, Dubeyji went away and got on with his work. He found out later, that within a few hours from then, Sardaarji went to see his doctor, and died at the clinic that very moment. Dubeyji’s visit to his Sardaarji’s house that morning was to become his last glimpse of his Earthly angel.

However, I felt goose bumps thinking if the Sardaarji had a premonition of his impending death that day, and had called Dubeyji to see him maybe one last time?

A stranger helps you stand on your feet when you were vulnerable, poor and 15. Decades later, when he, your benefactor, is in his golden years, he calls you, the beneficiary of his kindness, to see you again. And it happens to become your last goodbye. In this case, it was a milkman and his ‘Sardaarji’ Saab.
It is indeed true, I thought, hearing of their relationship, that some relationships can be expressed, but cannot be explained. Not even by the master, the guru of all relationships, our heart. But such stories makes me believe in angels.

Did you ever feel a tiny raindrop
trickle down from the sky,
and land upon your cheek
when there is no rain in sight,
And wonder where it came from
when the day is sunny and bright?

Did you ever hear someone
clearly call out your name,
and when you turned to look
there’s not a familiar face,
and wonder where it came from,
when the voice was there
without an ounce of doubt?

The answer is quite simple you see,
Angels are everywhere, watching over you and me.
Though at times we don’t feel a presence at our side,
Angels are by our side, morning, noon and night.

(- Anon)

I asked Dubeyji, if he has any regrets, considering by 80 one can have some. None of us can possibly predict that the sun will shine forever on our spirit.
Dubeyji told me, “I do have one. The fact that I did not listen to Sardaarji, many years ago when he was pressurising me to purchase a shop that was up for sale at Rs Four Thousand. Many decades ago. Now that property is worth many crores.”

I wondered, on how many more occasions had this wonderful ‘Sardaarji’ given his arm out to the Dubeyjis in Colaba area or elsewhere? I am sure I will meet some more Dubeyjis who have benefitted from this Sardaarji if I went seeking them in Colaba. Because he also built a Gurudwara there, I was told.

I realize, it is indeed true, that a wealthy and wise man doesn’t shake hands with people he wants to help. He instead offers them a helping hand. Post his earthly visit, I hope Sardaarji received the crown he merits.

Thank you Surabhi Shah, and Deb and Beni, for buying this new bicycle for Dubeyji. Dubeyji contributed a little towards this purchase.
We told him to keep his old bicycle, repair it a bit, and when he can he should lend it out to someone who needs one to earn a livelihood – become a ‘Sardaar-ji’ to someone.

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. 🙂 )

120th recipient – I hold life in my arms, I live in Paradise; Because I care to dream that life.

120 Milk Ajay Sawant Pawar

120th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) :

“The song of Life is now playing for me,
Sweet music, sounds and sights.
I hold life in my arms, I live in paradise,
Because I care to Dream that life.”

Ajay Sawant Pawar (44)

Milk Man.

When I would pass a street near Matunga west, early morning around 5.30 am on my rides, I would see a young man and an older lady shifting crates of milk on a pavement near Hinduja Hospital. The lady was very skinny, and her white hair made me perceive her as old from the distance. Yet she moved those milk laden creates with great energy. And I had noticed that even though I would rush by them at 25 to 30 kmps, both eyes focused mostly on the road ahead.

On subsequent rides past that same spot, I noticed that the milk man’s bicycle was old, probably as old as his work partner. I was keen to someday stop and ask him if he needs a new bicycle.

One morning, I did. When I was not in a tearing hurry to kiss the cool breeze which awaited me like a well-deserved reward at the end of Nariman Point. The milk man was Ajay Sawant, and the lady with him was his mother. She was 60 plus, and had pioneered the milk delivery work that this Mother-Son duo were engaged in.

I proposed to Ajay we can help him get a new bicycle, provided he is willing to contribute partly towards it. He told me he will think about our offer. I gave him my number and sped away.

After about three or four months, Ajay called me and informed me he has saved enough money to contribute nearly half the cost of a new bike and wanted to meet me. I welcomed him. A man not seeking freebies, I liked that.

Ajay has been working as a milk delivery boy ever since his teens. His mother had begun this profession even before he was nine or ten, and he has been helping her since. Their father worked in the great Indian Railways. A job considered secure and coveted by millions. A mode of transport for millions, taking people closer to their dreams, to their destinations, to their near but far ones.

Speaking of the railways, and trains, what I miss most from my childhood are the journeys in trains led by steam locomotives, the sound of the whistle, looking out of open grilled windows at the tracks running alongside and their never meeting like jinxed lovers, my mother carrying water flasks, filling them at stations en route, having tea from clay pots, the station master in white holding red or green flags, the coolies who could carry easily an elephant on their head and a hippo on their shoulder.

The only thing I would not miss is the toilet with a gaping hole in the floor, through which air gushed out of, and I always feared my leg would get stuck in the ‘shitty’ hole! 😉 As a kid, I could not hold the side bars, provided in the toilets, while standing or sitting and peeing into that hole, and sometimes I peed on my shoes or legs, and then I would feel embarrassed to go back to our first class compartment with wet trousers or feet! Hahahahahaha! I don’t miss that too!
My favorite train-song is written by my dad, from the film Dost, “Gaadi bula rahi hai, seeti bajaa rahi hai; chalna hi zindagi hai, chalti hi ja rahi hai.”

There is another thing about these beautiful trains. Sometimes you miss one. Or you happen to get into one that does not stop at your station. Ajay missed one too. Or, maybe the train that he hoped will take him to his promised land just did not halt at his station,

Ajay, though a milk delivery boy since his teens, had a dream. A childhood dream to join the Indian Railways and have a secure job, like his father. When he grew older, his father did make an application for his son to join the railways. I think Ajay had said that the children of employees can get employed under some quota, so he was hopeful he will land the job.

The job application was made, but the matter never progressed beyond his interview. Ajay feels, for some reason unknown to him, his father either did not ‘push’ hard enough, or did not grease the palms nor the egos of the Babus (government officers) in the Babu-dom of Indian Railways.

The forwards hands of the relentlessly marching clock continued to run ahead and time quickly went by…. One day, Ajay’s father died. Before Ajay could secure the railway job he had always dreamed of. After his father’s death, Ajay did try to put life back in his job application, however, nothing came of it.

All clouds give shelter, but all do not bring rain. Ajay’s dream of holding a secure job with the railways dispersed like clouds pregnant with the hope of rain but who do not deliver their waters to us. Ajay feels, that the only one rope he had been holding to pull himself out of the deep well of a low income existence, slipped through his fingers with the death of his father. His dream floated away, along with the smoke from his father’s pyre floating out of the chimney of the crematorium.

All dreams do not die. Some remain alive. Ajay had a mother and younger brother to support, along with his own wife and child, and he looked ahead and continued delivering milk along with his mother. I felt happy, that we were able to help a family like this in our own tiny way. Especially a lady so old, as she was 60 plus, and one who had always been independent and still is, even though her husband had a secured railway job.

Thereafter, another hard knock this Mother-Son duo survived is the death of Ajay’s younger brother. He died due to cancer, but could have survived had his cancer been diagnosed earlier, and had the hospital admitted his brother much earlier for chemotherapy, Ajay believes.
The hospital kept delaying his admittance under some reason or another, and Ajay and his mother did not have the resources to take a second opinion, and eventually it was too late to save his brother. His brother’s medical expenses forced them to take loans.

Thankfully, many people who they deliver milk to helped them with funds, and some of them refused to accept repayment after his brother died. Mumbai has a large heart, ya. 🙂 Ajay is grateful, that some people did not accept repayment of his loan, because they are still in debt from that event, and are still paying off the interest on the loans taken from private money lenders.

Our tiny assistance of helping them by buying them a new mode of transport may not seem a great help to them, but it will matter in the long run. Because with an additional bicycle Ajay can increase his routes and customers by hiring a helper to deliver milk to more customers.

All is not lost for this Mother-Son duo. I know, because the high energy with which I see them work at the milk crates in the morning, the pace with which he rides his old bicycle laden with milk packets, and the kind of energy he displays working from 4 am to nearly 7 pm almost daily, they all shout out to me – “Hey, my dream died, ya. But you know what, I saw a new one.”

That is what keeps us going. Dreaming new dreams. When any earlier one dissipates on us waking up. When our bicycle gets punctured on a ride. When our tongue gets burnt sipping hot tea. We do not stop waking up! We do not stop riding! We do not stop having hot tea!

“If you want to hold the Stars my friend,
Then wish and hope and dream.
For Dreams do come true my friend,
They will, at least for me.

The song of Life is now playing for me,
Sweet music, sounds and sights.
I hold life in my arms, I live in paradise,
Because I will care to Dream that life.

So Dream my dear friends. And cast your dream,
Wish the life you want to live.
I was a Dreamer always,
My Dreams will work for me.”
-RB.

I wrote this poem, sometime post my college years. I cannot say my dreams have come true, yet I continue to dream through the troughs and crests my boat travels through. I think we need to continue to dream, continue to even sleep walk, if necessary. As long we can keep our dream in our horizon our ship will not be lost at sea.

Thank you Vivek Mushran, for purchasing this new bicycle for Ajay and his Mother. (Ajay willingly contributed partly towards the purchase of this bicycle.)

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. 🙂 )

119th recipient – “If it is indeed true, that most people are only faithful until their options improve; Then they will quickly discard you too, like an old pair of bloody-worn-out-shoes.”

119 Dhobi Shambhunath

119th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) :

“If it is indeed true, that most people are only faithful until their options improve;
Then they will quickly discard you too, like an old pair of bloody-worn-out-shoes.”

Shambhunath (60 plus/I think between 60-65)

Dhobi (Laundry services)

Shambhunathji is from UP. A lasting image of this most humble man, who I happened to come across on our streets, are two.
The first is from, when he arrived to be interviewed. Shambhunathji approached me with folded hands, and his back slightly bent forward. He did not place his arms by his sides until I told him not to feel so obligated to us, and told him to take a seat. His gratitude, even before we bought him a bicycle, overwhelmed me.

The other lasting image of him is from, when I happened to see him ride, a week or more after he had received the new bicycle we donated to him. Shambhunathji recognized me from a distance, and even before I could come within hearing distance of him, he had already got off his bike, folded his hands, and said something to me which was inaudible! As I came closer, I realized he had said ‘Shukriya Saab. Bahut Bahut Shukriya” (Thank you Sir. Thank you very very much), because he repeated it. I wish Reenaa, Ujjwal and Surabhi were there then, to receive his immense gratitude directly from him.

Their immense gratitude, which is very often, always humbles me, overwhelms me. Just how needy are some people, or, is it because no one in his 60-plus years ever did something as tiny as we had done for him!? It’s the latter, because he had told me that no one ever before had made him an offer like we had, of buying him a new bike if he was willing to contribute towards it.

Having said that, I felt sad, that he, like so many others before him, feel such overwhelming gratitude, for something that for us donors may be a far smaller gesture of kindness than what the recipients believe.

Shambhunathji ‘s father was a farmer. Shambhu passed by many schools in his long lifetime, but could never step into one with a book and pencil. Poverty stood guard at the formidable gates of those schools, denying him, like scores of others in poverty, an entry into the sacred classrooms of literacy. His tone had such deep regret when he said he could never go to school, that I was immediately saddened. It is rare that I have felt sad within just a few minutes of recipients speaking to me about their lives.

The manner in which I happened to come across Shambhunathji was, I would often pass a very short and old man riding a bicycle laden with laundry clothes, his one leg would not reach the pedals, and he would be pedaling with his other leg only. I was always curious to know if it was a birth defect, because, I always saw him pedaling with one leg primarily.
So, when I got the opportunity to look for a needy recipient, and I happened to see that same old man riding his bike using one leg, I raced up to him and stopped him. I asked him if one of his legs is shorter than the other, and if so, then how come?

To my relief, I found out the bicycle he rides is larger than what is suitable for his height, so, he has to really stretch both legs to ride, which is very uncomfortable. So, what this inventive fellow does is, instead of stretching both legs, he stretches the right leg to push the right pedal down with such a force that the left pedal naturally gets forced up to meet his, until then resting, left leg, which then takes over and softly pushes the pedal forward which has already gathered its own momentum by now to move his rickety old bicycle ahead a few feet!

What an inventive man! The lack of resources can indeed make us inventive, I say. Had he been a privileged being, like us, he would have most probably purchased a bicycle with a smaller frame size. J

Another reason for me to stop him and ask him if he needs assistance in buying a new bicycle was, he was very old compared to so many others I see pedal on our streets for a living. And I have always wanted to make our offer to older beings, more like a reward for their decades of weathering the hard life on the street level. Moreover, his old bike was in a very bad state. These were three solid reasons for us to help this fellow, I thought, reasoning within me while he continued to speak.

When Shambhunathji first arrived in Bombay, as a teenager more than 40-50 years ago, his uncle being a dhobi taught him the laundry work. They lived in Khar. That job went on to become Shambhunath’s life long career.
He now has two sons, one works at an Iron tools workshop back in UP, and the other is studying in college. His daughter is married.

I was curious to know, looking at this most humble and weather beaten man, at this older age cycling away with primarily one leg, putting all his force on the other, with a load of clothes on his bike’s carrier, are his children good to him, and if he feels they will take care of him when he grows older?

Shambhunath replied, not looking into my eyes, and this was the first time he spoke looking away from me, looking towards the ground, “I am able now, I am independent. This is not truly the stage I can judge the real character of my sons, my children. I will know how good or bad they really are, when or if a time comes when I am no longer an earning member, no longer independent, if I become too sick or too old to work and earn some money. It is only then, if or when I lose my own independence and unable to work, that the mirror of life can reflect for me how truly faithful or unfaithful my sons are towards me.”

I really liked this man. Long after he had left, I still thought of him, on the day he went to collect his new bicycle and had called me to say ‘Thank you Saab…’. I hoped to God then, and I prayed, that his fears, if any, prove wrong. Or his faith, if any, in his sons, proves right.
I prayed, that Shambhunathji will be cared for, he will be looked after (we all become children as we grow older) long after his legs refuse to sing along with his bike’s rhythmic rotating wheels, long after his rough hands are not strong enough to iron or wash any more even his own laundry.

Sons. Many people across the globe crave for even ONE. There is nothing more attractive to a father, than a faithful son. And a faithful daughter, for a mother; I thought. I have read and heard so many stories of faithful sons, and I have often heard and known of many instances of daughters being more faithful to their aging parents than their sons.

Yet, now and then we will come across a story that will make us doubt, make us wonder if this is true:
“If it is indeed true, that most people are only faithful until their options improve;
Then they will quickly discard you too, like an old pair of worn out shoes.”
(@ Jeremy Bean)

To end on a positive note, most children are faithful to their parents, and now let me share a poem about someone most loving, most faithful:

“The wind blew as though it would never take rest;
The bird had flown away too far from her nest.

Amidst everything I felt very lonely,
I thought of him; I missed him only.

Though not a human being, yet human-like was he,
And undoubtedly, very very very dear to me.

He was my dog, a ‘Dog’ as some say,
And now the pain will endure, oh: it may.

Now for me life will start once more,
Maybe as normal as it was before,

But will I always remember my most faithful friend?
Oh yes!, indeed, my loving faithful dog, he was faithful till his very end.”
@ Trinayana Panda

Thank you to Surabhi Shah, Ujjwal and Kkajal Sarin, and Reenaa Karan Gupta, for donating this new bicycle to Shambhunathji. Though he seemed very needy, he willingly contributed a small amount towards the purchase of this bicycle.

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. 🙂 )

118th recipient – The difference between an invaluable vase and a human. An invaluable but broken vase can go to trash. Not a human.

118 tea phoolchand

118th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) :
“The difference between an invaluable beautiful vase and a human can be, an invaluable vase broken can go to trash. But not a broken human.”

Phoolchand (19).

Tea Seller.

One evening, on my walk, I saw a skinny youth selling tea on a street in Bandra west. A location I am as familiar with as I am with my mood swings. 😉 However, this young adult was someone I did not recognize. Not that I know all the tea sellers on that street! :p But, I do know many of them by their face, and that is only because I ride or walk there so often, and happen to notice that most of them ride rickety old bikes.

This young tea seller was not riding a bike. He was holding a tea kettle and walking with much effort from customer to customer on the pavement. I was curious to know why this young tea seller did not have a bike, because most of them on Carter road or Band Stand have bikes.

When I stopped to talk with him, he asked me “Saab, Chai, ya Kaafi?” In turn, I offered to buy him a bicycle. He stared at me in disbelief. Amused, and now even used to their varied reactions, I explained, as fast as my fastest bike, what we (Bicycle Angels’) can do for someone like him. Help him buy a bicycle, if he willing to contribute half its cost. He thought about my offer, asked me some more questions, and then agreed.

I asked him, considering he is so young how will he arrange for the money needed for his contribution towards the bike? He told me he can borrow money from his relative, the people he stays with, or from some friend or neighbor. Cool, I liked his attitude, he was not looking for freebies.

Phoolchand. His name. Phoolchand did not revert to me for a week. I happened to see him at the same location, so I asked him what happened, he did not revert to me with half his contribution. Was he not able to get a loan from his relative, I asked. He nodded affirmatively, it is too much for him to arrange.

After some silence on both ends, I told him since he cannot afford to pay half the price of a new bike, if he wants one really badly, I can buy him a second hand one. It will cost far less, and half the cost of a used bike will not amount to much. Phoolchand immediately agreed, he did not mind us donating him a used bicycle, and was willing to contribute half its cost. Accordingly, I began looking for a second hand one, but came across some second hand bikes not worthy of donating.

However, soon, I decided to buy Phoolchand a brand new bike. And that’s not just because I had a very persistent donor 🙂 , Rohan Shrestha, who insisted he wanted to contribute the entire cost of a new bicycle if I found a worthy donor. But by then I had come to know from Phoolchand about his circumstances. Those compelling ones, that made this young fellow leave all that was safe and familiar for the unknown, the city of promised gold – Mumbai.

Phoolchand had come to Mumbai four or five times earlier, a few years ago, sometimes to check it out as a location of his future career path, and sometimes just to visit his uncle. On high tides, I thought, persistently this fellow returned seeking a shore where he can anchor his family’s rickety ship.

Phoolchand is from UP. He is educated till class ten, or the twelfth I think, and could not study beyond that because income from agriculture could not sustain his education nor feed them adequately as they are four siblings.
He has a younger brother, who is one and a half years young, and three sisters, 8, 12 and 15. His sister who is 15 has a serious medical issue, and her cure has already drained their savings.

The difference between an invaluable beautiful vase and a human can be, an invaluable vase broken can go to trash. But not a broken human.
What I found commendable about this young fellow was, his father did not urge him to migrate to Mumbai. Phoolchand arrived here on his own accord. At 19, he sends money to his family and also contributes to his elder sister’s cure.

After hearing his story briefly, I thought of Atlas the giant who had carried the world on his shoulders. In Phoolchand’s case, he is carrying his family and his sister’s medical expenses on his. He told me, if he can have a bicycle, whether it is a new one or old, he will be able to travel far beyond Carter road and Band Stand to sell his garam garam chai and garma garam Kaafi (coffee), and thus increase his prospects.
A good reason to get him one, I thought.

Moreover, and this was a reason I really liked, having his own bicycle will help him serve his relative’s family, who are his guardians in this city. Phoolchand’s guardian, his uncle, is a Malee, a gardener, and he has children who go to school. Phoolchand told me, he can use the bicycle, when he is not selling tea, to take his uncle’s children to school, since they have given him shelter.
That, for me, became one more reason to help this young Atlas own a bicycle.

To me, Phoolchand seemed very concerned about his sister’s medical expense draining their family’s savings. What was really his elder sisters’ medical problem, I decided to probe.
His eldest sister suffers from some mental disorder, not diagnosed as yet, and she faints suddenly and randomly. Sometimes she comes to consciousness after 8 to 12 hours.

I asked him, considering he is so young and so far from home, he must be missing home, his mother, his sister who is unwell. This is when the tidal bulge within him, like the one within all of us, crossed her banks. Phoolchand cried. I did not pity him then. I let his river run its course.

They may be far apart, these siblings, I thought, seeing him cry, yet they are so close. As close and as far as our hands will ever be to our legs, even when they are stretched out to their maximum. So many families like Phoolchands’, are stretched out to their maximum across geographies, due to migrations.

‘Phool’chand’s love for his sister reminds me a beautiful song, written by my father, which incidentally begins with the word ‘Phool’ (flower). I hear this song play on radio fm every year on the auspicious day of ‘Rakhi’. The day when brothers-sisters renew their bond of love, with the sister tying the Rakhi thread on the wrist of her brother.
The song I mentioned, I would love to share with you, that brings me much happiness, “Phoolon Ka Taaron Ka Sab Ka Kehana Hai, Ek Hazaaron mein Meri Behana Hai, Saari Umar Humme Sangh Rehana Hai….” (All the flowers and stars sing praise of you, my dear sister, one in a million you are, my dear sister, all our existence we must be together, my dear sister.) Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJpqkNX_V-4

Thank you Rohan for donating this bicycle to Phoolchand. Furthermore, Happy Birthday dear Rohan. (It’s Rohan’s birthday today!, and he had wanted to donate a bicycle on his birthday.)
When I came across Phoolchand on Carter road, and I decided we could help him in our own tiny way, it is Rohan I thought of as his benefactor. Not just because Rohan’s Birthday happened to be just a week away and he had told me he would like to donate a bike on this day, but because they both (donor and recipient) are young, both are independent. Even though both are separated by a chasm, I thought.

So many Rohans and so many Phoolchands in our city of gold. Are they separated by fortune or misfortune? I wonder sometimes. Some privileged people may perceive them as being separated by a chasm of privileges.
Whereas, some underprivileged people may perceive them being separated by a grand canyon of misfortunes. Half full or half empty, how do you see that much-spoken-about glass of life that we all drink from?

I must mention, I happened to see Phoolchand riding his brand new bicycle on Carter road, yesterday evening, while I was riding mine which has been newly painted three days ago.
He was beaming with such JOY, this young Atlas, riding his brand new bicycle as though he is riding a Lazy Boy – Harley D! 🙂 Ya, that’s how much these bicycles may mean to those who use them for their livelihoods. Pure JOY!

As for me, I was feeling immense PLEASURE riding my newly painted bicycle, and I even wrote a verse to honor her:
So I gifted my beloved bicycle a new exterior.  And I asked her, “How does it feel, my love, to be painted all new?”
She replied, “Special, honored, blessed, in your arms like a fresh drop of dew.” :)))

Phoolchand’s JOY versus my PLEASURE. I wonder, are they even equals? William Davies has a perspective:

Joy is born of parents poor,
Pleasure of our richer kind;
Though pleasure is free, but she cannot sing,
As sweet a song as beautiful joy confined.
– William Henry Davies.

Thank you Rohan. 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. 🙂 )