Why do I ride mountain bike on Mumbai streets?

Through loud cacophonies of car, bike and rickshaw horns emerges a bright neon yellow mountain bike. Tires clutching the crease of the road; the extra foot long cemented area, assumably the only cycling track available for Mumbaikars. As notorious monsoon drenches my face, humidity tickles down the end of my spine and the grip of hand fatigues, the elder brother of my brain screams in slow-mo –

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This could’ve been funny but it is the gripping reality of cyclists in Mumbai. Cycling on the haphazard lanes of Mumbai suburbs is the quintessential balancing act. An inch to left side could land you into tumbling fall on the rain-washed asphalt and an inch to the right would lead into kissing the cheeks of raging vehicles.

I like to experiment on different terrains, discover new lanes and mostly follow the pace of my wandering heart. This sounds good on facebook profile but honestly I end up riding through traffic jams, inhumane gullies, crowded bazaars and the wannabe Hollywood aka Lokhandwala all the way upto the Malibu of Mumbai aka Carter Road. Sometimes its the urge to move the ass out of the cozy house cushion, sometimes its an on-the-spur recreational jolt, at times its just to meet a friend, or perform chores, or pick up grocery from the market. But most of the time I ride during peak hours. For a non-groupie (I do not ride in groups, at least not yet) riding alone is the ultimate experience of freedom. As soon as you snap out of the dream you find yourself amongst the 20 other vehicles struggling within one square feet of potholed road.

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Cycling lets you breaks all rules. No literally you can break all traffic rules if you are on a cycle. The first time I jumped a signal on cycle and found drooling wolflike cops, I slowed down and was willing to bribe my emergency cash Rs. 100 to the first officer but he ignored me like just another white hair on his senior moustache. Since then I  proudly jump signals, (of course on cycles you need to check left, ride, down and even up before you cross a signals). But I can ride on footpaths, carry my cycle over a divider and start riding on the other side. And the best part is even beggars don’t hassle you at signals. I think the cyclist’s aroma does the trick.

With the advent of most of International cycling brands coming to India, there has been an onslaught of cycling groups, morning rides, weekend rides, long rides, short rides and cycling treks. But my intention is to use the urban velocipede(cycle) for some practical use. I have read blogs of urban cyclists in other countries and subscribe to some youtube channels. Compared to some foreign countries Mumbai is fairly accommodating to cyclists. Cycling here is the mode of transportation for lower class and the iron clad black cycle with curved handlebars is the silent charm of every busy street. But for the elite – cycling is restricted to only recreational purpose.

But a shout out to all fellow cyclists out there – lets scratch the head under our helmets and think – no doubt cycling in Mumbai is difficult but its surely greener, reduces pollution (air and noise), solves the parking hassles, promotes healthy lifestyle and has the superpower to solve all problems of the overcrowded city like Mumbai. Till the time we do not act on the change we cannot expect governments and BMC’s to improve facilities for cyclist. If there are enough cycles on street the government will have to create dedicated tracks, provide parking facilities and perhaps encourage more people to join in. It is easier said than done. It’s rains in Mumbai. Well hello! it rain in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Delhi, Australia, America and the whole wide world. In fact we just have rainy showers but some countries like Netherlands – the cycling capital of the world – also receives snowfall. A foot long wall of snow is a real problem, riding through five inches of clogged water is actually fun, perhaps you just need a mudguard. People ride motorbikes in windcheaters, scorching sun, burning heat, atrocious humidity and the single weekend of winter. So why we cycle.

Cycling makes me feel wonderful… but the road to wonderfulness is not paved yet and that’s why I ride a mountain bike on Mumbai streets.

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cycle is the new guitar

 

Do you remember the time when anything Goan was cool, getting drunk was fashionable, and chicks smoking cigarettes were considered rebellious. Those were the days in times when Guitar ruled as the ultimate symbol of ‘coolness’. A vice that made everything in its vicinity revered and mortal holding it was considered as wise as the hippie. Every second TV ad, a baggy film hero and the next-door dude with crooked teeth would parade around with a guitar on the shoulder even though he could only play ‘happy birthday’ on it. It was the quintessential prop of pop, a vice of Venus (not Williams, the love goddess), and the axe of … slash (guns n’ roses).

But gone are those loony days of dudes, these are the times for the chick brethren of manicured bros. Goa is passé and nobody mature bloody gets drunk. Instead every lad and every lady smoke-up like they were given shots of ganja as children.

But some new I n f o r m a t I o n has come to light Dude… bro… the millions of millennial have found a new mojo of ‘O!someness ‘ – ‘The cycle’, it is back from the dead in a whole new avatar. Though I loved the old velocipede designs, it made a statement. The modern multi-geared, terrain specific cycle has become the wheels of the wise, the every gully start-up generation and the adventure seeker with a Viking beard and a monthly pass to LEH.

This generation lives for experiences and to be seen with an eco-friendly, bodacious object worthy of 50 facebook is having lived a purposeful life.

The super intelligent brands want to target these customers and don’t mind associating with any number of inane objects as long it helps them sell.

And because we Indians love the phirangi style so much we incorporate them before blinking twice.

Exhibit A: A financial company in association with a English new channel ad marketing online content/ on ground experience that will attract customers towards their financial services.

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Exhibit B: John players overdoing it with the violin and a yellow cycle.

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Exhibit C: A film poster design with certain familiar art props.

All this showoff is well and good but it’s more like a hyped political campaign talking about having found the ocean of pure water, when the reality is flooded with droughts and farmer suicides.

We have all the major cycle brands from across the world, but hardly any roads to ride. There is no driving ethics and only a handful of people can ride to work because in the space crunched offices there isn’t room for a fully functional shower. Another biggest problem is security of these expensive cycles. The malls and offices do not want to invest in providing cycle stands. That’s the reason these beautiful vehicles breathing freedom are locked inside confided houses and buildings most of the time. They are taken for rides only early in the morning or very late in the night or on weekends.

Having said that the wheels are turning for sure. Cycles have made way to India. And we are more in numbers than cycling capitals Amsterdam, Sweden. There is a need for a revolution – cyclolution. It’s time to change the gear.

 

The Ups and Downs of Writing

Writing depresses sometimes, sometimes it excites the soul. Writing gives meaning to random thoughts, thoughts that move the world.

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I am new to writing for the public eye. Having only been blogging close to 17 months now, I am getting the feel of the swings that come with writing. Some days you won’t feel sure of your words or they won’t come as easily. It happens, not often to me, but it can depending on my current state of mind. Other days you will feel like you are the best writer in the world. I rarely “like” my own work, but I can appreciate the effort. Those days also come with their frustrations. You see other people “making it” or getting their chance and all you want is your phone call or email. Ups and downs come to us all, but it is what you choose to do the other 90% of the time that really matters. How do you spend your every day life and what are you doing…

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This is where it all started

 

This is where it all started; the loud, ludicrous yet laudable comedies – The Pakistani Plays. ‘Bakra Qistoon Pay’ was first of its kind and it not only redefined plays in Pakistan but also set stage for the new era of high octane comedies in India. Before that Bollywood chuckled on a completely different laughter track; In the mid 60’s and early 70’s Comedy kings like Mehmood, Jagdip, I.S Johar etc charmed the audience with their inimitable get-ups and comic timing. Later Hrishikesh Mukherjee, had the audience giggling over his humorous plots, comedy of errors and quirky characters. Manmohan Desai used slapstick to tickle the audience’s funny bone.

Since the Pakistani plays smuggled into the Indian border through recorded VCR’s we have seen several references of them in Bollywood as well. Nobody can complain as the audiences were rolling on the floor with Kader Khan’s witty dialogues and Shakti kapoor’s was more loved after he gave up the villain’s mask and donned the comedian’s hat.  

The 90’s had its share of laugh riots with mainstream stars posing as part time comedians. Johnny Lever was refreshing and the only contender to take Mehmood’s throne of being the comedy king. Since then Bollywood (Film and TV both) have taken truck loads of film rolls in form of inspiration from Pakistani Plays in form of plots, characters, punches, dialogues, with a pinch of satire wherever necessary. Some actors/ directors tried to be original while some just reproduced scenes from the original. Years later even today when you turn on the television it’s the repeat telecast of Xmen (characters) from Pakistani who have enjoyed minimum evolution in the last few decades.  

Perseverance

The act of moving ahead in the direction your heart sought out for your is a dire situation to get into. More so because the heart is bad at directions; it could lead you to the darkest of the dungeons and that’s when the mind peeps above your left shoulder to say in a eerie voice – See I told you so. But what do you when you own heart is the king of adamancy. It is excruciating to follow the path of your heart when the whole world around you behaves like the hoards of roman spectators watching Christ with his beloved cross.  And soon you’d be hanged with that cross – your passion. For me it is writing hence it is easier to put my thoughts down on paper but it gets difficult at times to live with my reality. The long awaited path of recognition and then acceptance and perhaps sometime later in life success.

But for anybody out there, trying to live their passion there is a solution – a mirage. You have to create a mirage which is so beautiful that the goal seems worth achieving for. Your logical brain would tell you that mirage isn’t real, it’s an illusion. But your heart wants to feel that the mirage is real and the journey to end of the horizon would take you to heaven and make you immortal. My imaginary world is prettier and closer to me then the distant decadent planet we live in. Sometimes it helps to live in the imaginary world. For the pigeon-headed it is easier to follow something, irrespective of how many times others around them try to stop, put them down or ridicule them, they wouldn’t just give up. For other more complicated and lesser mortal people, the trick is to fool ourselves so that we never give up.