164th beneficiary – We create our own world with the hope of miracles so that we can escape the harsh one awaiting us outside our own doors.

164 Malee Parsnath Jaiswal Donors Samir Date and Amol Ghag

164th beneficiary of help. (Livelihood bicycle)

“We create our own world with the hope of miracles so that we can escape the harsh one awaiting us outside our own doors.”

Parasnath Jaiswal. (56)

Malee (Gardener)

Parasnath. Not a gardener by choice. He was once working for a person who fabricated water tankers. He left that job and took to gardening. He built his humble life and successful family from it. His ancestors were engaged in agriculture.

Parasnath has two sons, 25, and 18. The eldest is engaged in agriculture back in the village, and the younger one is studying in college. He provided both his sons the education his father could not for him. He had a daughter, she died due to an illness when she was 15.

I came across Parasnath while walking on Perry road. He was on his way home at dusk. Both, his bicycle and he, equally fragile, wrinkled and aged. We decided to buy him a new one, it was 18 years old, and in exchange for a new one he agreed to give us his old bicycle.

(We refurbished Parasnath’s old bicycle, thanks to another donor, Vishal Chhabra, and we will offer it to a worthy person as and when a worthy opportunity presents itself.)

Rarely do I come across beneficiaries from whom we do not wish to take any contribution. Parasnath was one such person. Why? I do not know.

I spoke in length with him. I asked Parasnath if he believes in God and his miracles. I learnt from him, a few years ago he had fallen very very ill. He remained bed ridden for a year nearly. His father mortgaged their ancestral land to a rich Brahman in their village to pay for his medical expenses. Finally, it was a doctor in their village who cured, revived him. Eventually they paid back the loan and got their land back from the lender.

Earlier, when I had asked him his age he had said he is 56. I could not believe it. I had assumed, from his wrinkles and fragile body, he was in his 70s. Not that the people I know in their 70s are like that. But such was the devastation his illness had left behind as a daily reminder.

I think, falling very ill makes us miss the days we had control over our bodies, miss our independence, and that is also why falling ill feels so very terrible to us.

Parasnath considers that doctor one of his Gods. He had said, “I was so badly sick, for so long, everyone thought I would die. My family had even begun mourning. Yet, the fact that I recovered, and to top it all I could still produce three children after my severe illness that lasted a year, for me was a miracle of God.”

Some people do not believe in God and religion. Cool. Each to his or her own beliefs. I myself am an agnostic now and then, though I will still perform a prayer ritual sincerely when I have to, out of respect, but I do not promote a world without religion and God. But I do, one without myths and superstitions, like women should be allowed to pray at all ‘most-sacred’ spots in places of worship, and be allowed in places of worship through the month even if they on menstruation, and places of worship be open to all caste and creed, like Sikh Gurudwars are.

But, especially when you are very poor and very sick, God, religion, superstitions, give hope and help us keep the faith in dawn. When a loved one is ill, or if we fall very ill, we want to believe in God’s miracle. I once walked from Bandra to a temple at Babulnath to pray my Dad return home from a coma. I do not wish for a world without God and religion. Just that, religion today must embrace many teachings from science too. Those that don’t, will get isolated and become extinct.

I had read somewhere, we create our own world with the hope of miracles so that we can escape the harsh one awaiting us outside our own doors.

Miracles. For me, the fact I can walk and or ride a bicycle every day in any direction my heart feels at that moment, and I have a few people in my world who adore me and are kind to embrace my love for them, (and so many other tiny blessings and minor abilities) are nothing less than miracles.

Thank you Amol Ghag and Samir & Dipalee Date, for buying this bicycle for Parasnath. And thank you Vaania Vishal Chhabra for refurbishing his old bicycle which we will be donating soon.

Thank you to Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) for the good service.

#RakeshAnandBakshi https://twitter.com/RakBak16

#BicycleAngels:
FB https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/
WordPress https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/
Beneficiaries of help: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.357090647765413&type=1

#BeautifulBicyclesBeautifulPeople

 

 

 

Please meet my Bicycle Angel

Dad

Please meet my #BicycleAngel

My Dad initiated the love of cycling in me.

He brought me bicycles nearly every two or three years, as I outgrew them so fast. My three-geared bicycle (a “Chopper”) was the first of its kind in our tree shaded neighborhood (Almeida Park, Bandra west). Kids from around flocked to my building to see me ride, like a peacock preening his feathers I must have felt as proud then, in retrospect I think.

I remember dad taking me to the bicycle shop in our neighborhood, Kohinoor Cycles, Hill road. Sometimes to repair punctures, sometimes to buy new bikes. Something as simple as filling air in the tyres was a fascinating weekly ritual.

Ball bearings, shiny steel balls that rolled so easily, faster than my glass marbles, was another enchanting discovery. The discarded ball bearings I would take home and clean them with soap and play endlessly with them. I cleaned my bicycle myself every week, sometimes spitting into the cloth to shine the spokes. The sun, and moon, would smile brilliantly off them like 24 carat gold on a maiden.

Love to my Dad. My #BicycleAngel

Happy Fathers’ Day to all.

Photo: My dad on our “Chopper” 🙂 1970s.

#HappyFathersDay
#BeautifulBicyclesBeautifulPeople https://www.facebook.com/groups/313526712019526/

 

 

 

163rd beneficiary – Orphans of farmer suicide

IMG_9921

163rd beneficiary: Adhartirth Adharaashram (Orphanage) – Trimbakesh, Nasik.

 

Scrolling through the morning newspaper, sometime last month, I came across:

Orphaned by farmer-suicides, child orphans find their feet here. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Orphaned-by-farm-suicides-kids-find-their-feet-here/articleshow/52286631.cms

 

#SwateeKher reports in this article, “There is no one at home for me so I just stay here and read my books,” says the Class IV student. The Adhartirth Adharaashram currently has at least 100 other children with similar life stories. Since it was set up in 2007, the shelter has been home to nearly 366 children.

 

The ashram runs on donations, which include clothes, shoes, food grains, school books and uniforms. The kids attend a nearby government primary school where they are served a mid-day meal.

Some children who have completed high school and found work in local firms are now supporting their siblings.

 

Among them is Manisha Chaudhary, who was recruited by a Nashik firm earlier this year. “I have three younger sisters at the ashram and I hope that they too will eventually get jobs and become independent,” she says. Her mother, Laxmibai, lives at the shelter and helps in the kitchen. She is one of eight widows who live at the ashram and look after the children.

 

The children at the ashram stage a special play, Jahar Khau Naka (Don’t Poison Yourself), for visitors. It talks of life in Maharashtra’s drought-hit villages and how suicides affect the young. The 45-minute play, featuring kirtans and personal narratives, has toured 15 districts which have reported a high number of suicides. Last year, the state revenue department recorded 3,228 farmer suicides across Maharashtra.

 

Yes, 3228! Strangely, people were more outraged by a comedian’s video clip on two celebrities, and Paris bomb blasts, than these self-inflicted deaths of 3228 souls.

 

I read the feature. I felt an emotion rise in me. I paused for a long time.

 

The matter was well researched, reported and expressed, by the Times of India news reporter Swatee Kher. I took a snap shot of the feature and immediately mailed it to a donor, a stranger to me actually. Priya Chandok Desai. I had got acquainted to her thanks to # BicycleAngels. She lives in London, and had contacted me, via email, nearly nine months ago to make a donation.

 

Within minutes, Priya responded to my email. She wanted to help and send me her donation asap. However, though I now had a committed and enthusiastic donor, I was clueless how to reach out to this ashram in Nasik. I knew no one in Nasik.

 

I decided to locate the reporter who wrote the feature. I emailed Swatee Kher, and contacted a journo friend, Harneet Singh, who kindly gave me Swatee’s phone number. Swatee gave me the website id of the ashram http://www.adhartirth.com/ and the necessary contact.

 

I contacted Trimbakrao Gaikwad, the person associated with the ashram. He sent me a list of the food items, and some other daily use things, oil, soap, they needed. The ashram being situated in Nasik, I wondered how to make the purchase, and, moreover, how to deliver the purchased goods to them?

 

It did not take long for me to zero down on my friend and associate based in Pune, #MukulMadhavFoundation (MMF) http://www.mmpc.in/ ; the NGO for whom Dr Ram Dhillon, London, and I ride our bicycles for our joint charitable initiatives.

 

“The world is complicated enough. How can I expect to succeed without the help of both parents?” – An orphan. Some of these children, victim of farmer-suicide, have lost both parents. Swatee reports, Ashok Patil, a Class VIII student from Gadchiroli, says, “Parents should not commit suicide, however bad the situation. They don’t know what we have to deal with after they are gone.”

 

Thank you Lenin and Priya Chandok Desai for your donation. Thank you Mukul Madhav Foundation, Pune, and the Finolex Industries’ dealer in Nasik, for making the effort of executing this donation at Nasik itself, asap, transparently, effectively & efficiently.

#RakeshAnandBakshi https://twitter.com/RakBak16

 

 

#BicycleAngels:

FB https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/

WordPress https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/

 

 

Beneficiaries of help: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.357090647765413&type=1

 

 

#HumanityOurReligion #Empower #Empowerment #Charity #Donation #Livelihood #Bicycles #Inspiration #RakeshBakshi #ProudIndian #JaiHind #Humanize #Equalize #Spiritualize

 

Thank you.

Humanize Equalize Spiritualize. @ #BicycleAngels #HumanityOurReligion

https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/
https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/

Beneficiaries: of bicycles, wheelchairs, crutches : https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.357090647765413&type=1

Peeta Planet (Dubai One) Tv interview, 2014:
http://www.dcndigital.ae/#/video/title/250472
Web link to the Aaj Ki Raat Hai Zindagi episode (Star Plus, Dec 6th 2015 11.20 am) (from 05.05 mins to 17.00 mins) : http://www.hotstar.com/tv/aaj-ki-raat/5778/project-nano-ganesh-ek-safar/1000077847

You do not have to be a millionaire nor travel far beyond your house to help someone. Step out and observe and you will find someone worthy. (Spreading hope, one wheel at a time.)
#RakeshAnandBakshi pays tribute to donors and beneficiaries of #BicycleAngels
@ Live On #Fame, May 2016, hosted by Aaditya Vaze.
link https://www.facebook.com/LiveOnfame/videos/529277057241199/
Mumbai Mirror By Yolande D’Mello, Mumbai Mirror | May 27, 2014:
http://www.mumbaimirror.com/mumbai/others/Mirror-likes-Bicycle-diaries/articleshow/35625546.cms

Business Standard By Ranjita Ganesan | Mumbai July 26, 2014:
http://www.business-standard.com/article/beyond-business/a-cycle-for-everyone-114072601044_1.html
Hindustan Times, Gurgaon. By Naina Arora. Oct 5th 2015.
Bicycle Angels’ donors inspire Prashant Neha Taneja and his friends in Gurgaon:
http://paper.hindustantimes.com/epaper/viewer.aspxPriya Lenin

The moral web. To give or not.

Woody-Allen

The moral web.

Do we deal with poverty only when a beggar approaches us in a public place, or approaches us when our family and or friends are around us?

How many of us carry loose change, or biscuits, before we leave home, or keep loose change in our car, with intention to give it away as and when we will encounter the pitiful face of poverty at the railway station or traffic signal? I have no clue.
I have never carried anything like that to give away. Sometimes I carried old clothes to give away, but never anything ‘new’ or cash.

When I was a kid, I gave alms, because I feared the wrath of God.
Later, as a youth, I gave because I thought it will earn me good karma in next birth.
Much later, in my 40’s, I gave thinking, what goes around comes around in this birth, so I will certainly benefit sooner or later.
Now, I rarely give alms.

And if I do, or if I am instrumental in others doing charity, for example #BicycleAngels we founded together, it is not to earn karma for myself. If I did that it would, for me, amount to a selfish kind of charity I am doing to benefit from. Though I see no harm if anyone else does charity for a seat in Heaven or for benefits in this or a next birth, or even to just ‘feel good.’ For whatever reason you may do charity, its all good man.
Because eventually your deed will lift someone. Anyways, there are acts we perform daily for selfish reasons. If you do charity for selfish reasons, it’s all good man.

Since a few years now, most often I have believed that I should not give cash to beggars. Maybe that is how Bicycle Angels seed got sowed. Maybe. I have very often turned my back from a beggar, looked away, or rolled up my window to block their pleas.

In fact, I never think of them, beggars, unless I see them on the streets or read related news. Then, only then, my mind ticks for them. Yet, I have often not given them alms. Somehow, I preferred to help ‘working’ people, or the old and physically unable. I may be wrong, in my beliefs, but I am willing to learn my lessons and not asking anyone to pay for these life lessons.

Sometimes, when a beggar has approached me when I am eating, most often I have given alms. I think I did that because I felt blessed, or felt guilty of being blessed, or then my tummy was so full of food, kind of bursting with over eating, that I relented with either the food or then with cash. Sometimes, I even feel I am being ‘confronted’ by a beggar with an attitude – “Come one, you can’t eat that all by yourself, ya, can you? Or, Come on, I know you can spare change for me. You have so much, I can see it in your clothes and your car.” Yet, most often I never gave in to them. I rolled up my window.
However, almost every time I did that I found myself in a moral web. But then even when I have given them alms I found myself in a moral web wondering if I encouraged ‘begging’. Maybe I am foolish, because I feel now no one ‘likes’ to beg. It is humiliating I think, and dehumanises the person. Poverty can dehumanise us.

So, I came up with a kind of solution. Kela. Banana.

Sometimes, I keep one handy when I travel by car. Which is often. The days I remember to and have some at home. I am not perfect, I often forget. Sometimes, I buy two en route. For some odd reason, I find it easier to give a banana than give cash, even if the money I offer is of equal value to one banana, which costs Rupees five in a suburb like Bandra west today.

Now, I think this is not my confession alone. It is of someone typically me, living in a mega metropolitan city like Mumbai or maybe one in Africa or the Western hemisphere. I thought of this only lately, inspired by #Nerdwriter1. He made me ponder on my own moral web of giving or not giving alms to a beggar.

#Morality. Is it morally right to give alms? It can be argued until death, like politics and religion, with no solution that all will agree to. No one can answer that for another. I think, morality is about what things ‘ought’ to be, and not about how things ‘should’ be. Like a ‘general’ mode of conduct, and not a specific rule.

Statutory warning: Your morality is not the only morality in the world! Each one of us ought to decide our own morality. And not judge that of another. (Same for your religion.)

Happy weekend.

#RakeshAnandBakshi

Image: Woody Allen. One of my favorite directors’. 🙂

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