DNA article on Bicycle Angels by Deven Lad.



For Rakesh Anand Bakshi, being acknowledged for his gestures is discomforting.

“I feel sad when a recipient thanks me for the cycle assuming that I am the donor. But that is not true. I am just a medium to bring together a willing donor and a deserving recipient,” says Rakesh, who is a writer by profession.

But little does this ‘medium’ realise that his efforts are changing lives and bringing a smile on hundreds of faces for whom that bicycle means much more than a means of transport. Rakesh has till date, helped 121 people by donating new as well as used bicycles.

Speaking about how all of this started off, Rakesh, son of veteran Bollywood lyricist Anand
Bakshi, said, “Two years ago, a school-going child asked me for a bicycle and I decided to spread the word through social media. And the response was amazing. Several people came forward to help the child and I ended up collecting three times the money that I actually needed. While the child did get his bicycle, I was wondering how do I use the remaining money and it was then that I happened to meet Sushil, a chaiwala at Carter Road, Bandra. I saw him struggling to run his business on a cycle which was in a deplorable state. And when I found out that he cannot afford a new bicycle, I knew how to use the extra money I had. I bought him a bicycle as well.”

And from there on, began Rakesh’s hunt for people who need bicycles. Every alternate day, he goes around the city on a cycle and looks for potential beneficiaries of his mission. And much to his surprise, he chances upon several people like chaiwallas, dhobis, panwalas and plumbers, whom he feels, need help.

While Rakesh is satisfied by bringing a smile on people’s faces and clicking pictures of happy moments spent with them, the beneficiaries of his efforts cannot help but express their gratitude.

65-year-old Shivshankar Singh, a dhobi from South Mumbai said, “My business was getting affected because I did not have a good bicycle. But after Rakeshji gifted me a new bicycle, things started looking up.”

What makes Rakesh so passionate about this initiative is the fact that, a bicycle, while for most of us, might be just a means to travel, for many it is an important element that helps them earn their livelihood.

Shyam Narayan Dube, an 80-year-old milkman from Colaba is the latest recipient of a new bicycle from Rakesh.