“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Cycling is Green - and Great!

The voice at the other end of the phone was a familiar one - a former colleague from the bank - over the crackle of the background noises he asked me - ' So, how are things? What you doing these days? How do you spend time?' 

Ever since I took VRS more than three months back, 90 per cent of the calls I received was the same kind - asking me how I am spending my time. By now, I have stopped getting irritated and reply: ' Answering the same questions that you asked!'

But let me tell you what I did today. Got up at 0530 hrs and cycled about 3kms to Vellayambalam and joined the gathering there, for the monthly cycle rally. Of the 60 plus riders, the majority were from the LNCPE (Laxmi Bai National Centre for Physical Education), the sports centre; competitive cyclists. The rest were like me; older, retired men who had nothing else to do on a Saturday morning! There were a two or three women (other than the sport cyclists). 

We cycled through the City, for about 15 kms, through Vazhuthacaud, Thycaud, Killippalam, East Fort, Statue, Cantonment, Pattom, Kuravankonam, Kowdiar and back to where we started.  When I learned about the route, I had decided to break off mid-way, before the gradient between Overbridge junction and GPO. But once I took off, I thought what the hell let me try, and  if it is too much, I will push the bicycle. But I huffed and puffed up through it and then the incline at Pattom and Kuravankonam, never stepping off the bicycle. 

Two police vehicles escorted us, stopping other traffic at the junctions while the four-wheelers and two- wheelers gazed at us, amused. Kings of the streets, we were. For once, none tried to push us to the footpaths. As I laboured up the inclines, I took a peek at the slowly passing buses. The passengers, it seemed to me, looked at us with respect.

Some time in the mid-Seventies, my friend Rahul and I hired a couple of bicycles and rode it all the way to Kanyakumari, 85 kms from Trivandrum. We had promised ourselves that we will not get down at even one gradient. We didn't. Sore-assed, We did the full circuit in two consecutive days. How great was that feeling! Pressing down the pedals, throwing all our weight on to it, we would sway and swing as our knees crackled.

Long long ago. I and my friend, Sreekumar went to Amarnath in the Himalayas. This was in the late Eighties, before  terrorism struck Kashmir. As we struggled up the winding steep path, those who rode horses looked at us with respect and I hoped, envy. Long ago, again with Sreekumar, I walked up the Kailas parikrama, gasping for breath, stopping every 10 steps. There were Yak riders then. Again, I remember the gleam of respect in their eyes.

It is not the achievements in life that is important; what counts is the measure of effort that one is willing to put in.  The respect I noticed in others is actually my self-respect. With every step forward, I strive to redeem myself.

***************** Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 13.07.2013

Those who would like to learn more about the cycling scene in Trivandrum, visit http://induscyclingembassy.org/

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Poetry Chain

The weather had changed; maybe briefly

Rains had paused, sun shone in bright blue sky.

The poets were gathered in the hall

Where hundred of books had lined up long ago

Where you and I had browsed, eager – we were so young!

In the proffered seat I sat down shyly

For I were in the presence of the august

Who were poets.

They sat, holding sheaf of papers

That throbbed with words, the writers’ hopes

Dreams, sorrows and angst.

Young and old, men and women

Holding on to their creations in words.

Looking at them, at myself, I wondered

What brought us together here in this evening.

What am I doing, this collection of my poems in my hand

What do I want to tell them – ‘Look, I am a poet, listen to my words, please?’

I look down at the book

And remember those evenings and late nights

Those days in winter and autumn and spring too

Those places far away and the quiet corner of my house

When thoughts would rush in and I would splutter

Words crowding, impatient to be freed

When images would  grow larger, in black & white and in colour

When in pain, in joy, in unutterable sorrow I would

Write or tap out these words tainted with my blood.

The poets recite – the words, some are lost, some jab

My heart with their arrowheads.

The poets paint – images in words

On love, on anger, on reflections of life.

I await my turn – I grip my book

Wishing the words would  draw up into me

Wondering if I could ever rewrite my life 

Wondering if  I would ever be heard

My lone voice in the multitude of this world. 

************* Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 02.07.2013

Poetry Chain ( poetrychain.webs.com), is the coming together of writers of English poems.