Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cycling Diaries

A bicycle which I had bought in order to explore my neighbourhood better turned out to be hobby which offers me much more!

A few initial solo rides around the neighbourhood did familiarise me with places that I had not noticed earlier but it also got me to meet a group of cycling enthusiasts who love to travel long distances on bicycles.

Over a few weeks of cycling around with this group , helped me meet some really fine people, made me learn a lot about gear bicycles and how to use them and also about the basic essentials that you need to carry when cycling long distance.

Today, I was very pleased with myself as I completed a 27 kilometer ride with the group. We started out early in the morning at 6 am and rode at a leisurely pace , stopping midway for a piping hot cup of tea and great conversation at a road side stall.

Points to keep in mind while cycling:

1. Always wear a helmet - riding on  roads with moving traffic requires that you protect yourself from any accidental injuries
2. Eye protection - shades or glasses are a must to prevent any foreign object from entering the eye.
3. A water bottle to keep yourself hydrated
4. A small emergency pump and flat tyre kit to fix a tyre while cycling.
5 . A first aid kit.
6. A good knowledge of gears to be applied according to the terrain on which you are cycling.
7. Light clothes, preferably cottons to absorb all sweat.
8. Eat a little snack before heading off for a long ride. Bananas are a instant energy booster!
9. Start early, so that you can avoid the scorching hot sun!
10. Preferably,  be on roads with less traffic and lot of trees

Indeed, with these precautions riding can be a fun hobby to pursue and keep yourself healthy and fit!!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Lend a Helping Hand

Illiteracy is still a nationwide concern in India. Despite literacy rates having risen from 12% in 1950s to 74% in 2011 , still these rates are way below the average percentage of 84% in most countries. This deficit can be attributed to poverty which cripples this developing nation resulting in inability of many children to get a proper education.

An organization which is working towards giving these socio - economically backward children a chance for a brighter future is Actionaid

Actionaid started it's operations in India in 1972 and has been working constantly since then to eliminate poverty and injustice.
Their mission is to work towards a world without poverty, fight hunger seek justice for all the dis-empowered and education for all.

In India , Actionaid operates in 24 states and one Union Territory which include some of the most underdeveloped and inaccessible areas.

Actionaid allows citizens to be a part of their activities by sponsoring education of children. In one of the programs, by paying 600 Rupees (9.6 $) a month for a year a child education can be sponsored.

In this programme, the identity of the child being sponsored is revealed to the sponsor. Along with this a biannual report on child's performance is also sent to the sponsor. If the sponsor wants then he/she can also contact or meet the child.

The team members of this organization held a camp in my office to encourage people to sponsor children and I availed this oppurtunity to give a child his right to education.

Indeed, it was a pleasent experience to get details of the child I am sponsoring. These included his photograph, family details and address. You can also extend a helping hand and feel the happiness of this gift. Many such NGOs operate in India but a tried and tested one for which I can vouch is Actionaid.

Website details:

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Glistening Leaves and Tales of Sorrow

There grows a tree in the heart of Budapest, capital city of Hungary, that has leaves that glisten brightest under the sun but they carry on them the heavy weight of history. This tree stands as a memorial to Jewish Holocaust victims in the Dohány Street Synagogue.

On my maiden visit to Budapest, I was totally awestruck by the beautiful architecture of the Dohány Street Synagogue and the tales of sorrow and struggle ladden in its history.

The Dohány Street Synagogue also known as The Great Synagogue or Tabakgasse Synagogue, is a historical building in Budapest and is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second largest in the world (after Temple Israel in New York). The synagogue was built in 1850 ' s  in the the style of a basilica and consists of the Great Synagogue, the Heroes' Temple, the graveyard, the Memorial and the Jewish Museum.

During the Holocaust, Hungarian Jews took shelter in this synagogue and in the courtyard of the synagogue, there are mass graves of thousands of Jews.

Dohány Synagogue

Interiors of the Synagogue

 The Holocaust Memorial in the synagogue, also known as the Emanuel Tree, is a weeping willow tree  made of  granite and steel designed by Imre Vagra, with the names of Hungarian Jews killed during the Holocaust inscribed on each leaf. 
Weeping Willow Tree!

Graves of Holocaust victims in the Synagogue

The weeping willow is an awe inspiring magnificent structure but its each leaf is associated with the sad story of a person whose aspirations were cut short by some people driven by a disillusioned man.