‘ONE’ is the unified spirit of humanity. The one, that binds us together through our values and cultures.

In times of joy and sorrow and the moments of struggles and progress, we bestow our trust in ‘God’ – the single force of the universe known by different names across different faiths.

One who stands by our side in the event of misfortune is a ‘friend’.
One who navigates us through the crises is a ‘mentor’.
One with whom we spend our adulthood life is a ‘partner’.
And there are numerous such types of coalitions and relationships of oneness.

Human society has thrived and flourished with interdependence on one another for it socio-economic needs untill the pandemic struck us hard. This year has been very tough for everyone with set-backs on many fronts. And the situation remains unforgiving as the research and experimentation to find the right vaccine continues.

Every dark cloud has a silver lining. Socially distant apart, people reunited with their families in a real sense during the lockdown. Old connections were revived, and so were the passionate hobbies that were brushed aside on account of priorities.

Pets became trusted companions, and birds had a new audience to listen to their song. Some people associated with a charity, while some sought clarity within spirituality. Calmness overtook the atmosphere of chaos, where restructuring and rebooting became the necessity in the era of new normal.

Together, we were in isolation. With confidence, we doubted our future. The value of life had never been valued so much before.

I believe, ‘Health’ is the single biggest realization that has emerged through the sufferings induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Physical health, mental health and environmental health being its subsidiary forms.

Undoubtedly, ‘Technology’ has got a fresh perspective in the pandemic period. Virtual offices and online learning is now an accepted reality. ‘Being Social’ on social media is an elementary requirement in today’s world. But still, it’s a personal choice to be or not to be present on public platforms.

Despite who we are, where we live, what we do…we are inseparable. Connected in one way or the other, divided by region, united by divine forces.

However, our lifecycle is different, and we have to fight our battle on our own. In the process, we may feel disheartened. Then what do we do? We seek motivation!

One person who inspired me in 2020 is a Mumbai based tri-athlete, Mangala Pai. A retired teacher, Mangala is a super active sports women. She has had long stints with badminton and swimming in her early part of her career where she played at local club level for recreation and fitness.

Even after crossing the age of 60, Mangala carries on with her outdoor physical activities. She has cycled in the UK, Scotland, France and Nepal during her international holidays in the pre-pandemic period, and pedalled as a tourist on a few trips made in India.

Mangala actively participates in running and cycling events and has earned many certifications and medals for challenge completions. The inspiring lady has twice completed hundred kilometre rides, both of which were accomplished in the recent past.

Mangala is crafting her way to a fulfilling life and energizing many others. Being a committed and disciplined personality, Mangala decorated her bicycle with passion following the Christmas theme. Looking at the photograph, you can judge by yourself.

This years Christmas cycle ride was filled with hope and excitement. Although the celebrations were toned down due to the corona virus restrictions, many cyclists turned up wearing a smile and shades of the festive season. Those forward forward-looking eyes anticipating a new beginning and better future, the tribe once again ringed the bell of happiness.

Merry and Bright, the Christmas cycle ride was held in Mumbai on Sunday, 13th December. Riding through the streets, the participants jingled all the way from Bandra to Worli Sea-face.

I am glad that through cycling, Mangala Pai is one more inspiring person I have met in the journey of life.

Did you have any such moment in 2020 where you came across that one person who motivated you?

As the curtains to this strenuous year is coming down, I wish all of us a Happy Festive Season and a Healthier, Safer and Prosperous 2020 ONE!

Enjoy the photo album:

Photo credits to all the participants.

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Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai

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