126th recipient of help (recreational bicycle) :
“Even today, it is a taboo for girls to ride bicycles. In the village near where I live, some males, young and adults too, do not like, nor encourage, the girls in their family or their village to ride bicycles; because, they consider a girl (hold your breath!) ‘BAD’, if she rides a BICYCLE. So, I…”
That was told to me by Dr Apte, who runs a personally funded non-profit initiative to encourage boys and girls around his semi urban residence to ride bicycles. I named it, The Bicycle Library.
Dr Apte added, “So, I thought of a way to make the males more inclusive, ‘motivate’ (bribe) them, the boys, to teach their sisters or their female peers in the village, how to ride a bicycle. I insisted, if they (the boys) want to borrow my bicycle for a ride, for a day, he must also teach his sister or a female friend, to ride a bicycle. And show me her progress. Only then can the boys borrow my bicycle, particularly if they have a sister or cousin who does not ride, or is not allowed to ride, or not encouraged.”
After meeting Dr Apte at Panchgani, thanks to my pal Amin, I realized, we do not have to step far from our own house to help someone less privileged.
We wish Dr Apte all the best for his Bicycle Library. After this one donation made to his library (by our donors Rita Chhabria. and Dr Niraj Vora) he currently has three bicycles that he lends to the children for their recreational use.
I think, being a doctor, he knows the immense importance of recreation and sports for the better development of the mind, body, spirit, self-confidence and self-esteem. May the girls too soar to the skies on these ‘borrowed’ bicycles.
This is the first poem I wrote on cycling, after I began nearly three years ago. it is also about being in love with the possibilities of where a bicycle, and the life we live, can possible take us.
A Cyclist’s love ballad for her Bicycle.
Take me away, to a place from where happiness can never sail-away.
Take me away, to a place from where star-lights will never stray.
Take me away, to a place where poems can never-stop to serenade.
Take me away, to a place where a lover’s guitar can strum for us all-day.
Take me away to where when nightingales sing, all beings sway.
Take me away to any place, but not where our loved ones are more than a bicycle ride away.
Thank you Rita Chhabria and Dr Niraj Vora for donating a bicycle to Dr Apte’s non-profit personal initiative, Bicycle Library.
(Read Dr Apte’s story below here, what motivated him to begin a tiny bicycle-library for some rural children. I had posted his story online on March 24th 2015:
Dr Apte, a cyclist too, migrated from Mumbai to Panchgani, some time ago; and over time he realized that the location he is residing at, the rural children and some underprivileged ones, do not have a bicycle.
When he rode his bicycle, or when the children saw his bike parked at his house compound, they stared at her, his fancy bicycle, like they are watching an exotically-fun being.
So, what did the awakened mind of this inventive and compassionate doctor think up? …. A bicycle library!
Dr Apte gathered the rural and under privileged children at his place one day, and told them that any one of them can ride his bicycle, and keep it with him or her the entire day.
However, they have to return it the same evening, before sunset. So that, the next day, the same bicycle, that brought joy, fun, and adventure to one, can bring as much or more to another child.
So over a period of a few days or weeks, every kid gets his or her turn to ‘own’ a bike for a day! Nearly.
Now, it has been many months that Dr Apte’s ingenious scheme is running, and once every few months he carries his bicycle to Mumbai for refurbishment, repairs, servicing, so that she (his wonderfully-selfless bicycle) can serve the children again, with the same enthusiasm and adventure as ever before.
Bicycle Library is a name I gave his scheme, as, the lil bird brain I am, I could not fathom any other way to express his idea in two words. Dr Apte has no name for his scheme. Naturally so, because kindness needs no titles, no names.
(Link to this story behind the Bicycle Library: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153090757348213&set=gm.555464874594655&type=1&theater)
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 on this bicycle.
The accompanying image of the girl child riding a bicycle is only representational. Dr Apte could not send me an image of the children with the donated bicycle. I will post the true image here, the day he can take one and send across to me.