On 9th of December 2018, i attended a cycling rally organised to create awareness for diabetes amongst the public in general. It was the third year in a row that this rally took place for the same cause. More than twelve hundred cyclists arrived to attend the event at Kala Ghoda, Fort Mumbai. Total distance was about 13 kms from Kala Ghoda to Dadar.
It was an initiative by Rotary International and Keiki R. Mehta, Surgical Director and Chief Ophthalmic Consultant at the Mehta International Eye Institute along with Zeiss. The reputed Doctor is a recipient of Padmashree award by the President of India in 2008 for his contributions towards medicine.
A mailer sent by the organisers claimed that it’s one of the world’s largest cycling rally for diabetes awareness. Possibly yes, by the number of people who turned up for the rally.
I saw a bunch of television media journalist recording bytes of the organisers. ‘Say No To Diabetes was the message. Diabetes is a dreadful disease and can severe a patient’s routine life. Even the families suffer in many ways’. The committee members spoke to the media one by one asking people to take precaution and live diabetes free. They happen to announce some more initiatives in the coming months which i couldn’t listen to properly as many other cyclists had surrounded the speakers and there was loud noises at the back.
Amongst many participants, i met with Raju Turkane, a one legged man who cycles. He is active across local cycling groups. Raju rides a Road bike of Giant brand. His bike weights around 7.5 kgs and is made up of fully carbon fibre frame as he prefers it that way. Raju likes to go for solo rides and is fond of climbing, now that’s a big surprise…’a one legged man who cycles… and loves climbing too’.
Climbing is something most of us avoid but this man has an amazing courage.
By profession, Raju is a Dentist and attends his clinic during the day. He happens to be a versatile personality with interest for script writing and storytelling. Raju has also acquired formal training from FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) made few short films and is also a stage performer.
Raju and me were the last to start our ride after the flag-off as we met up with one of the organisers and she applauded Raju’s presence in the rally. While riding, we saw a number of runners going pass on the way towards the opposite side. Being a sunday morning, a running event was in progress. Some runners saw Raju riding and gave kudos with a thumb gesture.
Personalities like Raju are rare in our society who defy all odds and not afraid to show the world that physical limitations shouldn’t be a barrier. With restricted abilities, it takes tremendous determination for road cycling and this man is doing it easily. We often make excuses in attempting difficult things but there are a set of people around us who live by example. Raju’s story of cycling is an incredible one and must be shared as much with others to motivate and inspire them.
At the finishing point, the Rotary club members distributed around five prizes through a lucky draw. The first prize was a new cycle which was won by a cyclist having BIB no. 2277 while the rest of the prizes were cycling accessories. As the number of the grand lucky draw prize was announced, a man with his young son walked ahead in excitement and the crowd started to cheer aloud. But as the volunteer verified his BIB number it wasn’t matching…he misread it and had to return back. This incident further lifted the mood. Later, the kid was given few chocolates to bring the smile back on his face.
Some more pictures taken at the event –
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai