Cycling – A week past – Findings

fat-cyclist

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.

Rode a bicycle after 28 years

Hercules 110sYesterday 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.

Bane of being a vegetarian … well almost

At the very outset, I am no sadhu baba. Unlike my wife who is a chaste vegetarian (sometimes driving me up the wall honestly with her food preferences) I am a person who treads the middle path. It is not that I have not tried different meats. I have even tried beef which is taboo according to Hinduism but well I am what I am. That is another story that I have never liked any meat save and except for chicken. At home we don’t even get eggs (no we aren’t Jains but my better half, you see:-) so I have been used to relishing chicken outside. Sometime in 2008 before we went to the US, I decided to stop chicken but with a caveat that I would not go hungry if there was no vegetarian food available. I had been to Buenos Aires earlier in 2008 where vegetarian food can be a challenge (known for the steaks) but well pulled through thanks to the theplas we Gujjus carry. Last month I was in Bangladesh where vegetarian food I felt was a challenge. It was a new place and did not want to venture into any unknown joints. Did end up experimenting a bit but the joint was so vague that the sole vegetarian dish was swimming in oil. Took 4 tissues to drain the oil out and yet I could see the oil floating. Did have the odd chicken burger there at KFC / McDonald’s just to get the same kind of taste. They use mustard oil I think in Dhaka which is something I am not used to. But well BCBC which means beggars can’t be choosers.

When I landed up in Colombo from Dhaka, I was on familiar grounds having been there a month earlier too and it was peaceful there. Found a Dosa King right across the Hotel which served only vegetarian stuff. Also had Indian restaurants so it was all safe in Colombo unlike Dhaka.

But unknown / first time places can pose problems for vegetarians. I have been carrying my share of theplas made by ladies at home and with that the usual Gujju snacks like Khakhras etc. (Chedda Stores Matunga ki jai ho). US is not a problem honestly these days and even Venice wasn’t a problem for me as I stayed with my friends there. Bangladesh yes was challenging a bit but now I know where to go so next time I will be better off.

Gandhi Jayanti 2012 – Let’s make a difference this time

Thanks to Google, I found the picture along side of the lyrics of Vaishnav Jan to. This used to be a bhajan that my late Grandmother (Ba as we used to call her) used to sing every night and she would insist on us sitting with our hands folded. Some of the lines I do remember even now but not the whole bhajan as a whole. Googled up on the meaning etc. and found that it is written by Narsinh Mehta. I also found out that it was Gandhiji’s favourite bhajan. Don’t know if Ba recited it every night out of reverence to the Lord or was it something to do with Gandhiji.

Yesterday at the Parents’ Sabha at Shishuvan, the children made a specific presentation of how they planned to spread awareness of Gandhiji’s ideologies on Gandhi Jayanti which is on October 2 every year and this year it happens to be a Tuesday. BTW Gandhi Jayanti is one of the 3 National holidays in India the other two being Republic Day and Independence Day. All these years Gandhi Jayanti for me (and hence Kavya too) has been a day to relax and enjoy sleeping in late but this time we are doing something different.

Students and teachers of Shishuvan are building on Shishuvan’s strong community of students and parents and the support of over 50 institutions located in the Matunga-Sion-Dadar-Wadala region. They plan to hold a peace march on Tuesday which will begin at 7 am sharp and is expected to cover 4.5 km in a span of about 2 hours.

The march will start from Shishuvan opposite Shradhanand Mahilashram in Matunga and will pass through Maheshwari Udyan, Adenwala Road, Five Gardens, turn right from Ruia College Signal on Dr. Ambedkar Road, then turn onto Deodhar Road to head towards Matunga Market, finally to turn at the Matunga Post Office, Bhandarkar Road, Maheshwari Udyan and end at Shishuvan School.

Kavya dressed in her school uniform and me in a white T shirt are surely going there and I would wish more and more people take part in this. If anyone wants to join, please contact me or visit http://www.shishuvan.com

Shishuvan’s Project Day – August 3 and 4, 2012

I was wanting to post about this for sometime now but did not find the time / inclination to put down my thoughts. This was the first project day that Kavya attended and I knew that the theme was Matunga but did not quite know what to expect. Having been born and brought up and lived in this area for 44 years I thought I knew Matunga like the back of my palm. How mistaken I was!

Kavya was narrating to us her part of the speech at home. She spoke about Hindustan Petrol Pump which is the HP Pump behind Aurora Cinema. I did not even know the name of the pump till then. So much for my back of the palm gyaan! Kavya was to report at 9 am on the 3rd for her Project Day duty which sounded intriguing to me.

At the appointed hour we reached the class and she was with some other student. I heard her narrate to some parent (she was all giggles when she would narrate to me) and then went around the class listening to other children who told me about trams and horse carriages being in Matunga. What impressed me was that they had put up their curriculum outside on the pin board in different shapes so you had rockets, helicopters and the likes of that. Added to that they had children’s work sheets displayed on the board too. Interesting to know that children were very creative in their imagination. They literally thought out of the box and not the conventional manner that we adults would think of.

I went around to some of the other rooms to see what they had. One of them was named Post Office. Intrigued me as I was expecting stuff on philately, my hobby. But it was something else. It was a mock Post office complete with a Post Master. They had different counters explaining different products that the post office sold such as Registered Letters etc. Learnt that you could open a savings account at a post office (at the young age of 44 from a child N^n years younger to me:-) Thanks to the project day!) Took pictures of some of the charts to show other children and also share with my dear friend, Marina in Venice (Kavya’s Marinafai) who works at the Post office in Venice.

One of the rooms spoke of charitable institutions in Matunga. Again me being me (a typical Scorpio) thought that I knew all the institutions. How wrong I was yet again. Found out that there is an institution called Pragati Kendra barely a kilometre from home (straight down that too) which I was unaware. Thanks to the camera on the phone, I could capture these posters.

I was scheduled to be one of the panelists on career counselling for the students of Class X. It was my first time doing such a thing but it was fun meeting different people like this Doctor who happened to be a year junior to me from Ruia College. After that they took us around to some of the rooms. One of which was on Educational Institutions so heard them speak on Podar College, UICT (erstwhile UDCT) and then finally had to go hear about dear VJTI, my college! Honestly Matunga is an educational hub and I was lucky never to have missed Mom’s home-made lunch which also explains my Size 0 figure:-)))

Saw some science projects of which one was on Water Harvesting by the children of Class VII. The report itself was meticulously made and I was amazed at the depth these children went into these days even if it were thanks to the internet. Honestly at that age, I doubt if I knew even 10% of what they all knew. Saw this amazing robotic vehicle using Lego. And the children were using a PC to control the whole thing. Children this age know far too many things than we knew at their age! Took pictures for Siddharth, Hitesh’s son who is a Lego freak.

Just a few classes I could visit due to paucity of time but honestly even if would have spent 2 days there, I would still not be able to get to all the rooms. Came away impressed that Kavya was in good hands and she was learning a lot more than the rote learning that we had (not that I am complaining…. Things have changed for the better. That was then and this is now). But yes I must admit that by living in Matunga for 44 years did not make me the gyaani baba of Matunga. I learnt this for children much much younger to me:-) Look forward to the next Project Day and this time I will be going there sans my knowledge, just a clean slate.

Pictures that I took are here.

PS (September 28, 2012): One thing I forgot to make a mention of (and I wonder how I missed it) was the brilliant song on Matunga which was written by the students and enacted as well by them. It was truly a brilliant song and anyone familiar with Matunga and surrounding areas will love it. The video is taken with the phone so pardon me if you hear me laughing or commenting but thank your stars that I am not performing the song else you would have run away:-)))

A really long domain name

Internet is a funny place:-) Everyone these days has a domain registered but whether they use it or not is another matter altogether. If websites are made out, they are rarely updated. For the past few years that I have been actively using some facility or the other at Matunga Gymkhana, I always have looked at this hoarding on my way home. Finally took a picture last night around mid night. What always struck me is the long long domain name! Imagine if he were to use this for his e-mail ID and the name was a typically long south Indian name like Narangampuram Srinivasan what would it look like? A mile long e-mail ID? The length of a domain name has always been a factor and the longer it is, the more likely it is going to be misspelt. (BTW this name is not a figment of my imagination. Had met this gentleman years ago and his e-mail ID was loooooonnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggg)

Just out of curiosity, I checked the web site and as expected the site is not up. The domain seems to be registered to someone in Matunga so it is existing in cyberspace but not:-)

Kavya’s first Annual Day at Shishuvan


Thursday 9th February was the much awaited Annual Day at Shishuvan for Standard I. It was held at Mysore Association Hall on Bhaudaji Road. It started at 1530 and went on till about 1715 but it was fun to see ALL yes ALL the children perform on stage. The theme was about stories that they had read around the things they had learnt. Much of it was to do with animals. Kavya was the face of the elephant and 4 other children were with her as the body of the elephant. So far she had only danced on stage as part of the Shiamak Davar’s performances but this time she had to speak in front of a much smaller audience. And she spoke clearly and loudly. The story about the Town Mouse and the Country Mouse was enacted very well and the audience participation in that was good too which I am sure encouraged the children too.

My takeaway from the show was that since all the children were on stage, it was an equal chance given to one and all of them which was very nice. Every child is unique no doubt but when on stage they were all the same which was very nice. Last year she had cried when she was not selected for the Annual Day at DPYA and it had hurt us a lot then but life turns a full circle and she was on stage along with every one else and did well. Proud of you. Thank you Shishuvan.