We are still adapting to a life not totally free from the virus, even as warnings of a deadly third wave keep negating our thoughts. But still, this plight has its benefits.
The virus has impacted society. Instead of showing up outside, many have been turning inwards to the world of reading, heeding spiritual talks, cooking, gardening, etc. A main encouraging change is seeing more and more cycle enthusiasts of all ages enjoying the simplicity of riding. The gyms were closed and many regulars resorted to open-sky cycling, where adhering to social distancing goes without saying.
Not many years back, people generally desisted from cycling, conscious of their status, while others feared they would be accused of being miserly. Before the ’80s and ’90s, cycling was the main mode of transport to schools and colleges. That rapidly declined, with students turning to motorised transport to be in tune with the times, and also to save time.
It was in the early ’90s that due to two small children to take care of and having to sit in the office for the whole day, I opted to cycle down to my office, a few kilometres away, as there was no time for physical activity. I was soon to realise how sensitive our society is towards this mode of commute.
One morning, I came across a neighbour, a retired IFS officer, who, seeing me on a cycle, remarked, ‘Beta, you earn more than double my pension. How come you are not using your car?’ Even in my office, I came across objections. Many complained that I was doing it only to attract attention.
Anyway, that time of flaunting automobiles seems to have faded away to some extent now because of the pandemic. Fitness matters, not wealth. That is why cycle sales have gone up and more and more well-to-do people are enjoying cycling without hesitation. I have also again reverted to this non-motorised vehicle for regular morning ‘drives’ and small purchases.
Many a time, when I am cycling, young men and women overtake me easily. This sometimes reminds me of an incident when I was a schoolgoing kid in the ’70s. My father took the initiative of going to Chandigarh on a bicycle from Patiala. Both my brother and I took this challenge happily. My grandparents, residing in Chandigarh, would receive our weary lot. After cycling continuously for more than an hour, my brother and I were horrified to see no trace of our father. He was too far behind to be visible, plodding pedals at his own easy pace. Now, it’s my time to be in the sluggish period. It brings to mind what Albert Einstein said, ‘Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.’
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