Mangaluru: Every Independence Day, it is our pride, an honour to attend the unfurling of our National Flag, to stand at attention and sing the National Anthem. We might have been doing it from school days,and then college days, and then compulsorily when working for our different offices AND corporates!
However as of late, it kind of made more sense to actually attend the Flag hoisting at a venue, which made a difference to us. For example, a Government school for the underprivileged, where we could help out in some way that we can. Or like the time, we all attended the Flag hoisting at other places then came together to a common place and then rode on a pre-determined route to spread the awareness and encourage our own team members and the public likewise on the importance of Eye Donation! We of course collected quite a number of Pledge Forms of people ready to donate their eyes when the times comes, which was handed over to the Father Mullers Charitable Organ Bank!
This year – 2015 becAme all the more easier for us when our friends from Bangalore Jawa & Yezdi Motorcycle Club, decided to ride it down on 24 motorcycles to spend this special weekend with us, with the additional aim of trying to help a charitable trust. The Mangalore Jawa & Yezdi Motorcycle Club, together with the Mangalore Bulls, came together and decided to contribute to Snehalaya Charitable Trust at Talapady – a special home for at least 80 differently-abled and mentally challenged people. On visiting the shelter, prior to the 15th August and speaking to Joseph Crasta – the founder and Director of the Trust and his Assistant jackson Rego, we realised that what they really were required basic necessities like bedsheets, towels, pillow covers, detergent powder, toothbrushes, toothpaste and washing soaps.
The Bangalore Team on knowing this, came together and in one single day not only contributed, but also checked and procured and packed all the required textile necessities. The rest was contributed by the Mangalore Team, and the buffet lunch for 200 people was sponsored by City Centre! Friday afternoon, and it was time to greet the Bangalore riders who were coming in with the packed requirements. By 3.30 pm, all 24 motorcycles and a back-up car had arrived at Padil, where they were greeted by the Mangalore boys. Technical problems on some of the bikes were sorted out and eventually the team was on the way to their rooms booked at a hotel in Surathkal!
10 a.m. on Saturday, 15th August and it was time for all the motorcycles to line up outside City Centre Mall, on K.S. Rao Road. Team members from the different Clubs of the United Bikers of Mangalore, like Flying Bandits, Mangalore Bulls, Revlimiterz, Yamaha Riders Club, Naked Wolves, even the Mangalore Classic Scooters, the Bangalore Jawa & Yezdi Motorcycle Club and of course their city counterparts – Mangalore Jawa & Yezdi Motorcycle Club, lined up on the pavement in columns of 4 and waited for the grand moment! Upon the arrival of the Chief Guest, MLC Ivan D’Souza and dignitaries – Masood, ex-Chief Whip, Govt. of Karnataka, Vinay Raj, Corporator and M.D. of Motisham, Mr. S.M. Arshad, the waiting crowd in front of the mall, that had converged on seeing all the bikes gathered together, came to attention. There was a hushed moment of silent reverence as the Tricolour was unfurled and the National Anthem was sung; and then the bikes were flagged off by the Chief Guest.
The convoy of at least 60 motorcycles, of different makes, ranging from the modest Bajaj Cheetak Scooter, a Rajdoot 175, KTMs, Pulsars, to the majority of Royal Enfields 350s & 500s and Yezdi Roadkings and even a Czechoslovakia make TS Jawa 350, along with with 2 back up SUVs that carried the items for the Trust, headed straight out of the city through Kanakady and then Pumpwell, straight on towards Manjeshwar. The final end point, Snehalaya Trust, near Mahalingeshwara Temple was almost 30 kms away from Mangalore, on a deep interior road, on the Kerala side of the State border.
Once at the venue, all the items that had been collected over the days, were handed over to the Trust members, who were deeply touched by the fact that all the riders could have got together so much and that too with material that had come down from Bangalore also. While we were waiting for the inmates lunch, a timing that was strictly followed due to their medication, we were all taken through a presentation on the beginnings of the Snehalaya Trust in these past 6 years and how they try and help inmates get back to a life of dignity and self-sustenance.
All the registered residents have been picked up from various places in and around Dakshina Kannada and Kasargod districts. Not surprisingly some of them are not even from this side of the country, as can be seen from their dialects of Tamil, Punjabi, Gujarati, even Bengali and Assamese. At times it is the police stations and hospitals that also brings in people, when they can no longer take care of them. It was time for lunch and it was the first time we came face to face with all the residents. They were assembled in the lunch hall and after a short prayer, lined up in single file while the riders served lunch to them.
It was an experience that touched many of the riders heart on seeing the faces of the residents, both old and young men who could not get their feelings or words expressed but tried their best to convey their gratitude to the staff, who take care of them patiently day in and day out. Feelings and emotions, gestures and simple facial expressions that come so easy to us, are completely devoid on their faces and we need to try our best to understand them. This small exercise of us serving them food, gave us enough to think and be grateful for what we have on our own!
Post lunch, we just had enough time to meet the founder Crasta and thank him for giving us this opportunity to help do our bit. On our way back, instead of riding in a convoy, we broke up into smaller groups, with the Bangalore riders heading back first while we followed some time later. The sudden downpour that caught up with us on the border and accompanied us till the Netravathi bridge, did nothing to dampen our spirits, and it was indeed a pleasure to see the clouds playing hide and seek with the sun, to see the darkening sea over the coast.
While it was time for the St. Aloysius C.A.U.S.E. Charity rally, which we had promised to attend, we knew we would be late before we actually reached the venue at LightHouse Hill and when we were informed by other club members that there were already over 150 bikes assembled there, with a number of young inexperienced riders, that too without helmets and safety gears, we decided together with our friends from Bangalore that it would be better to avoid it. Instead we took the time out to show our out-station friends the beauty of the Mangalore icecreams from Pabbas and then Sultan Battery. Finally it was just a quiet evening among ourselves on the bank of the river close by enjoying the Kudla delicacies of Bangude Fry, Marwai Sukka, and Chicken Chilli!!
After the long but fruitful day it was quite a good feeling to sit back among friends, crack jokes, make fun of each other but actually knowing that we are lucky to have what we have, to be able to do and offer what we can within our means! Yes we are independent but there are so many who are yet to attain their independence from the problems in their lives!!