Why we ride
I’ve seen people throw around some philosophy and then start a blog. Well, I for one will start with my introduction as this is what I hope one of some blogs I plan to write.
I am Pallavi and I live in Delhi, India. I’m a homemaker, a classical dancer, an avid trekker and a competent sales professional who took up motorcycling in November 2016. And, I’m glad to say that since then there has been no looking back.
I still remember; it was the July of 2014 when we were on our way to Amarnath. We were in a car and I saw a few bikers passing by. That was the moment that I told my hubby and my friends "yeh karna hai mujhe" (I want to do this) and they all were like "chal gaya iska dimaag ab bike anne wali hai" (Now her brain has started to work and she’s going to get a bike).
Fast forward to the summer of 2018 and here I was, riding on the same road, feeling free, feeling proud of myself. Riding for me in no time became the one way that I feel more connected to myself. It's meditation. I feel so free while riding just like a gliding bird.
While I loved getting on to the bike and going for a spin every now and then, riding opened me up to the motorcycling community and set an all-new perspective for me. I was able to connect with so many people within the community and also the people who I’d meet during the rides. On any weekend, I’d attend any of the group rides.
One such ride was the A Sanskaari Ride, a ride for female hygiene and equal rights. While the name of the ride was interesting enough, the interesting thing about the ride was the organiser, a male talking & promoting such an initiative. That wasn’t normal. And that was also how I got introduced to Bikers for Good and the founder Mohit Ahuja or as I now call him “Lambu.”
Well, Bikers for Good is not just a group of riders riding every weekend hogging on paranthas at the local dhaba. The aim of BFG is to serve the society so they add a social cause to each one of their rides and that is their USP now. This philosophy clicked instantly and I’m happy to say that today, I am a proud member of BFG.
What was just a passion is now also my way of giving back to the society and how.
However, this blog will be incomplete if I don't mention few initiatives which Bikers for Good has been doing for the last few years. We’ve provided skill training to the super humans or disabled as the world wrongly labels them, female hygiene, riding to remote villages to educate the kids there etc.
These initiatives are not always sponsored so we guys share whatever the costs are and make things happen.
In March 2020 when COVID hit India, we were planning a multiple city ride to spread awareness about self-hygiene and the importance of hand-washing. The thought was there and so was the zeal to spread the message but the implementation was delayed for one or the other reasons. But, there’s a reason they say, ”where there’s a will, there’s a way”. While we had all the challenges, we still strongly felt for the cause. A friendly discussion with Ravi Bhatnagar, a biker friend, part of Bikers for Good and a known face in Reckitt Benckiser turned the tide in our favour.
Before we knew it, we were riding across Delhi/NCR and distributing Dettol soaps to anyone and everyone who wouldn’t have easy access to hand-washing. It was hot, it was humid, and with the weight of the riding gear, it felt like a torture, but all of that went away when we saw people smile and thank us for giving them a soap, such a basic thing when you come to think of it.
But now, when I look back, everything makes sense. All the delays, the challenges, the music we faced because some of our friends thought we were being foolish and risking our lives for a lost cause.
And then, the hard work and determination paid back. For this initiative we got featured on NDTV- COVID warriors and were also featured in an episode dedicated to us in the Champions of the Hour series on Disney HOTSTAR. Being the only female member of BFG, I got the lead role in the documentary.
When I was told by the Director that I’ll be the face of the documentary, I had my reservations. I wondered if others would feel weird or insecure that I being a female had it easy and hence got the limelight. But, quite to my surprise, while the rest of the group, all grown-up men were pulling my leg and calling me the official Hot Star of the group, they also ensured that I had a brilliant time shooting and happily fell back in line when I had to lead the way. The camaraderie was something that left me speechless and till date, I feel overwhelmed when I think of it.
The happiness and excitement however did not last very long. Before we knew it, the second wave of the pandemic hit Delhi. I realized that while the year 2020 was difficult, 2021 might be worse. The group joked saying 2020 was a trailer and 2021 is a full movie, but very soon we realized this one is not a happy movie.
COVID-19 hit every household. We all felt the fear, pain, anger and anxiety of losing our loved ones. I lost a few of my family and friends and the pain is unbearable. So did many others in the group, and when you wake up every morning with a phone call mentioning someone died because of COVID, you end up feeling helpless.
While a lot of us were either down with covid or mourning the loss of a loved one, it made us wonder what we can do about it.
Everywhere that one saw, there was a fight for survival. People were running around, trying to arrange oxygen cylinders, hospital beds, blood or a medicine for their loved ones.
As Bikers for Good, we wanted to help and we decided to help India by arranging blood donors for families that were struggling.
We started requesting people to sign up as donors and at the same time opened up our website to patient’s families looking for blood. A few of us created a group and took turns managing the donor forms. We would call up people and request them to donate blood. We told them it was free of cost and we were doing it without any other agenda. There were times when the patient requests doubled up in a few hours and we would be left struggling for donors. We’d call up the families and apologize, tell them that we are still trying. Some would thank us, some would understand and others swore at us. It was not an easy job at all, but then, even if one life was saved, we’d consider it as a success. From one small success to another, we kept proceeding and soon the second wave ended.
We’ve had our share of ups and downs. We’ve been featured in a few newspapers and magazines here and there, but none of that matters. All that matters to us, to me now, is that I am able to help someone lead a better life. It’s okay if that person doesn’t appreciate it. In fact, I’m happier if the person doesn’t even know who I am. But, there’s some change happening for good, and that’s my dose for a good night’s sleep.
The pandemic is still here. It looks like it is not ending anytime soon, though I’d like to think otherwise. We are dedicated to doing all we can, but we need more hands to work. Motorcycling is coming of age in India, but are the motorcyclists too? I think they are. There are times I feel disappointed, but I look at all the volunteers signing up with Bikers for Good. Mad men and women like me and that gives me hope. That’s my reason to keep on riding. My motivation, for good.
______________________________ Pallavi Srivastav | Bikers for Good AVP Partnerships at ACL MOBILE LTD- A Sinch company