My Project 3 Speech was kind of jinxed as it took me quite some time to write down and then when I was due to give it, I had to call it off as had to travel outside town. Finally on September 5, 2014, I gave it as a Test Speaker at a corporate club, Recall. Thanks to all who made this possible. I finally got the monkey off my back. Here is the transcript of my speech.
The Relationship Cycle
In 1976, a 9-year-old boy accompanied by his father was out to buy his first bicycle! There it stood in the corner, a BSA resplendent in maroon beckoning him as he was all set to spread his wings and fly. His eyes gleamed as he was only too eager to escape from the clutches of his sister’s hand-me-down bicycle. That child is slightly overgrown now as you can see but his love for the bicycle remains unchanged.
Contest Chair, fellow toastmasters and guests, join me on my two-wheeled excursions.
I continued to cycle in and around the building. 2 years down, started cycling to school with Mom’s stern warnings about the traffic. The short distances gradually increased but the maximum I rode was 6 kms away to Siddhivinayak temple. For 7 years, this bicycle remained an inseparable part of mine till someone stole it from Dadar. I was devastated as I cried my way to the Police Station. Alas it was never found. At the end of the academic year, I begged my parents for a new bicycle and bought the same maroon BSA. This cycle was with me till the second year of Engineering when 2 more wheels got added and I began driving in 1986.
Driving a car is indeed different from riding a bicycle. I buried my love for the 2 wheels somewhere deep in my heart for 27 years. Finally on March 29, 2013, after a lot of deliberation, I bought a shining blue Hercules. Like the new-found possession in 1976, I started cycling the very next morning. Mom being Mom continued to warn me every morning. What started as an exercise, soon became fun as I rekindled an old flame. I got hooked to Mapmyride on the phone which measured the distance covered with the speed. It posted the stats to Twitter and Facebook so I could brag about it to all my connections. More importantly, it made me accountable as friends questioned if they didn’t see such posts. This added to the pressure.
Having pedalled for over a year all alone, I mustered the courage to cycle with a group. I was shy and always thought others were fast riders but this group was headed to see the flamingos in Sewree, my backyard. This was transformational. Made so many new friends and began learning. I learnt that my low-speed was because I was riding in the wrong gear for the whole year!
Social media got people to support my passion for cycling. It was now time for me, the cyclist to give back to society. On May 25, 2014, for the first time I cycled for a cause to support the Multiple Sclerosis Society of India. About 50 cyclists from across Mumbai rode in maroon T-shirts. Some of the patients travelled in vehicles and one of them was so enthusiastic that he let his young son pedal with us all the way to Haji Ali and back. It culminated with two senior neurologists explaining to us about the disorder. I decided then I would organise a ride on World Parkinson’s day in April 2015 to highlight the cause of my Dad and others suffering from Parkinson’s.
Now that I have told you about my cycling journeys, let me also tell you about my first love, food! I always relished the local breakfast be it the fresh karela juice at Yeoor Hills, the delectable Mushroom and cheese Omelette at Mondegar or the freshly baked Mawa cakes with Brun paav at the century old B Merwans, Grant Road. Along with food, I also discovered the grandeur of Colaba’s Afghan Church, the greenery of Aarey Milk Colony and the steep hills of Yeoor in Thane to cite some spots.
In conclusion, don’t let your childhood passions be buried somewhere in the corners of your mind. Get out and take the first step – Rent a cycle from the neighbourhood cycle shop. Cycling is the new Golf for networking. Join a group if you can but remember you are not participating in a race but just for fun. Don’t forget to invest in a proper helmet to protect your head and a pair of decent gloves to avoid blisters. Pedal for a cause and I am sure you will be pedalling for life.
The video recording of my speech is here. Sorry but taken on the phone.
July 7, 2013 – Exactly a month and two days after I fractured my wrist, I rode the bicycle again. It felt so good. Rony Bill, a well-wisher on Facebook and a cycling enthusiast did mention that I should go slow and steady since I am getting back from an injury so I started off slowly in the morning. Went past 5 gardens not knowing which way to go and near St. Joseph’s saw another cyclist. We got talking as we pedaled past Hanuman Temple in Wadala. He was from Matunga only and was a short distance cyclist so pedaled for some time with him. Then he decided he was done so he carried on. I went on via Tilak Bridge on to Tulsi Pipe road and all the way to Mahalakshmi and from there to Byculla. Rode yet again on the long flyover connecting Byculla to Parel and came home. Under 19 kms done but a very leisurely pace of 12.5 kms so around 90 minutes. Felt so good and I was lucky it did not rain. Hope to repeat something again tomorrow. Weekdays can’t do a long distance or duration thanks to the traffic so will be an hour at the maximum.
As Vyenky mentioned on Facebook, I felt like a child who found his favourite toy after a long time. How true:-)
I am enthused by my new-found love for cycling. For the past week I have been using it off and on and let me tell you every ride has memories of one form or the other.
Day 1, Saturday March 30, 2013 I went to Hanumanji Temple in Wadala and 5 gardens. A trip to 5 gardens always brings back my educational years – first to pass is Ruia College where I did my XI and XII. Then comes my school, DPYA where I spent my formative years right from Nursery to X. Then further down is VJTI where I did my Engineering so nostalgia is all around.
Day 2, Sunday March 31, 2013 I went to Siddhivinayak Temple which was the farthest I had travelled on my maroon BSA SLR bicycle and from there went to Mahim, passed by the office building and came back home.
Day 3, Friday April 5, 2013 Started from home not knowing where to go so got on to the main road at 0645 and rode on. Reached the Byculla zoo and then turned back. Must admit I was impressed by myself. Wrote on Facebook and was enthused by the Likes and messages from one and all.
Day 4, Saturday April 6, 2013 This was probably a hectic day. Morning 90 minutes of yoga. After that was all set to cycle to office as everyone wanted proof of my having cycled. Went in shorts but admit the traffic was bad. Return journey started at 1400 and it was terrible as the sun was shining mercilessly and the humidity was phenomenal. 1500 to 1600 Swimming coaching (Still don’t know free-style but am learning in all earnestness). Came home and went to meet an ailing school friend at Bhandup. Post dinner at 2215 went for a walk with my better half to Dadar. Came home and slept like a baby:-)
Day 5, Sunday April 7, 2013 After yesterday I was banking on a friend to accompany me for early morning cycling today but he dropped out at 11 pm last night so woke up at 0630 only. Left at 0745 and decided to drive to Priyadarshini building along the Eastern Express Highway and then via Bhakti Park, came home. On the way went up St. Joseph’s slope which during school days was always a challenge.
Takeaways from all these escapades – Please do not avoid a helmet at any cost. Traffic sucks. Early morning the number of cars maybe less but at that time no one pays heed to traffic signals or traffic rules of any sort. “Cycle to the left of the road” – This is what Mrs. Pereira had taught us in Standard III but look at the left of the road and you realise that is the most unkept side of the road. Even the smallest stone makes your bottom go up in the air and thud you come crashing back down on the seat. With a bottom like mine, IT HURTS! Watch out. Don’t expect any car, bus or truck driver to show any respect for you. They are ruthless. While crossing major roads, I have walked across. Can’t take on these mighty vehicles. So better to be safe than sorry. Eyes – Please protect your eyes with some form of glasses. I forgot my spectacles today and went on without them (I have a miniscule number so doesn’t matter) but when going down a slope you need to be extremely careful. Hydrate yourselves – I have been advised by all my cycling friends (rather gurus) to keep myself well hydrated. My 31-year-old habit of 1.2 litres of water first thing in the morning helps me there as I have enough supply of water in my body but will sooner or later need to carry a bottle as the temperatures rise.
Every road taken has brought me memories of one form or another so while I cycle my mind is wandering into the past. Enjoy the ride.
Yesterday I finally took the plunge and bought the Hercules 110s. I have been a cyclist right from Standard III when I bought the first maroon BSA SLR from a shop in Kalbadevi. This faithful friend of mine was stolen some 6 years later and I ended up in tears (A vehicle always has shared so many moments of your life). Then bought another maroon BSA SLR from Ambika Cycle mart in Dadar West. This one proved my teenage saathi from 1981 all the way till say sometime in 1986. Used to cycle down to Ruia College, to VJTI even if I was less than a kilometre away from both of them (and yet ended up late / missing the morning lecture…. shameless me!) In 1986 got my driving licence so the two additional wheels took precedence and I lost my friend. Somewhere deep down the urge to get back on 2 wheels was always there but the increasing girth / the feeling of ending up sweaty and grimy kept me away. Met Chetan Shah an avid cyclist who gave me an insight into what is done and how. Infact he sent me details of the model of the cycle to buy (maybe considering my mass and girth:-)) and accessories I must have (including the helmet which is so necessary these days). Yesterday evening the bicycle was home and this morning after yoga I took it out for a test drive you can say. My first time since 1986 and womenfolk in the house were ready with their advice that “you haven’t tried cycling in so many years. Will you be able to do it? Be careful etc.” with a geared cycle. The first few metres were kind of wobbly as I tried to get hold on myself. It was also my first time with a geared cycle and I tried to change gears just for kicks around 5 gardens. The first bomb fell on me as the chain came off:-) Got it back soon after all did it so many time before in a cycle without gears:-) Went to the Hanumanji Temple in Wadala as my Grandfather always went there on Saturdays and we go there whenever something new comes in. After that went around 5 gardens reliving so many memories and took 7 rounds. Traffic sure makes cycling very difficult these days I will admit. I thought people stared at me every time or maybe they were pitying the bicycle who was thrust upon with such an elephantine load:-) But I was enjoying it. Will have to build endurance for sure but enjoyed my ride after such a long time. Good to be back cycling.
3 days into the new year and I have not even woken up in the morning to exercise. Shame on me. I planned to walk in the mornings but sleep always got better of me these past 3 days. Need to get back to Robin Sharma on that. 5 AM alarm has been shamelessly switched off and the comfort of the blanket takes over. Saturday I did go swimming and enjoyed too but then on Sunday afternoon, slept like a log and in the process, Kavya slept too and she missed her swimming lesson. Shame on me. Better pull up my socks and get my act together. Also had planned to get a bicycle for me in the new year so that could cycle my way to office on Saturdays and also would then push (read inspire) Kavya to pick up the art of riding a bicycle without the trainer wheels…. Gosh what is wrong with me?
Finally Kavya now has a new cycle, her first one. Just went and got her a red Hero Cycles’ Tango. Infact I am tempted to get one for myself too (not the same size or structure obviously). I bought it from the same store as my second cycle. The first one, a BSA SLR maroon colour, was bought from somewhere in Lohar Chawl / Kalbadevi or such when I was in the 3rd standard. This was stolen when I was in the 9th or was it 10th and then I bought another BSA SLR same colour. This was the one I used all through junior college and even Engineering till two more wheels came into action in the form of a Fiat. I am hoping Kavya too derives the same pleasures of cycling that I enjoyed. Who knows I too will end up with one so can ride it to office on Saturdays or such. Environmentally friendly and yes I can always do with some exercise.