Ride With Sense

Seram Neken *

Fifth Critical Mass of cycle enthusiast cycling  at Imphal :: 28 August 2011
Fifth Critical Mass of cycle enthusiast cycling at Imphal on 28 August 2011 :: Pix by Niranjan Thongbam

"Morning walk has become an unavoidable practice for many people above 50s in the Imphal area. City residents throng the Khwairamband bazaar in early morning with walking sticks, only to be back with vegetable varieties purchased from sellers. Crowds of all ages are seen walking in early morning at bazaar area, as if there is a festival around. This is a healthy trend for those who care for their health. It would be more encouraging, if they begin to ride bicycles for commuting, office going, businesses and education."

Memoirs of my late grandfather Seram Tombirei Singh strike me with nostalgia whenever I hear of the propagations for bicycles use in the midst of global warming and fuel-scarcity days. In his late 80s, he used to murmur the benefits of riding bicycles for a better environment and a sustained health. He often talked of values of simple living and self-reliance. He was indeed a true and practical Gandhian who took on every profession in the service of the hapless people.

None paid heed to his valuable words then, might either be due to the existent generation gap or the love of eased lifestyle. Only today do I realize the values of bicycles which my late grandfather always rode till his end. He was indeed practical and healthy, as he used to ride his old bicycle for miles wherever he went. In fact, it is sensible, prestigious and relevant to ride bicycles today.

Gone are the days of yore as lovers enjoyed their romantic moments on the bicycle wheels. Gentle lads used to frequent their girlfriends by riding bicycles and roamed together on it - the later sitting on the back carrier. In the recent past, Shumang Lila artistes headed for the show on bicycles, their packed dresses and equipment being clutched in the back carrier.

The sounds of bicycle mandila at the gate indicated postman's delivery of parcels. Telli, the non-Manipuri edible oil sellers also visited the home on bicycles for their business. Small boy scouts and NCC cadets in uniform were always seen riding bicycles in line, as if there were rallies for a cause. It is told that cops too took on bicycles in the olden days, which the present generation perceives to be a mockery.

In early morning, newspaper hawkers used to deliver papers on bicycles from street to street, from one household to the other, even the dogs hesitated to bark due to its familiarity with sounds of bicycle wheels and mandila. The cinema hall parkings are no longer filled with bicycles, as it were before. Even small students have begun to stick to motor bikes instead of bicycles for their tuition, schools and colleges.

In businesses, offices, schools, colleges, universities etc. bicycles played an important role from the very beginning. Bicycles are also a big part of adventure and sports, apart from being an item of recreation. Biking tour, picnics etc. were always conducted with bicycles. Cycle race is an interested event in sports festivals. Bicycle has been as a beautiful part of Manipuri tradition since the olden days.

Bicycles and its revival are the need of the hour in view of the relevance in present situation of the state. Its contribution to environment protection and pollution control has none to compare with. This human-powered bike does not emit chemicals which harm human environment. It reduces noise pollution and air pollution in the cities.

The huge quantum of smokes and chemicals produced by thousands of automobiles today will be reduced to a considerable extent if bicycles are revived. Revivalism does not mean that we totally switch to bicycles for all our conveyances. We may ride bicycles as much as possible wherever it is appropriate and timely.

Bicycles are highly economical in terms of its price as compared to automobiles and its maintenance cost. Fuel prices have soared up to unaffordable levels for many who use vehicles. During times of blockade, petrol even costs as much as 150 rupees a litre in black market.

Moreover, people have to stay nights in order to be in the long queues in front of pumps to get a few litres of fuel. If we can switch to bicycles for small purposes and appropriate short drives, consumption of petrol will be considerably reduced. The economy of the state will get a boost automatically.

Cycling proves to be one of the most effective exercises, to shed off those extra calories and get rid of flabby abs. Even a small amount of cycling can prove to be good enough to boost body metabolism level, thereby fastening weight loss programs. Cycling minimizes the risk of coronary heart disease.

Essentially an aerobic exercise, it gives heart, blood vessels and lungs a workout, thereby reducing the risk of heart problems. A few miles of cycling per day assure trimmer and toned muscles. This is because the upper thigh muscles, backside and calf muscles all get to workout. Pursuing cycling helps a great deal in building body stamina. It enables to carry out day-to-day activities more effectively.

For people, who are on the heavier side, cycling can prove to be beneficial. It manages weight and helps in getting rid of increased waistline and bulging fat. The pleasure and satisfaction attained while riding a bicycle alleviates all the stress, anxiety and depression of a person. Cycling enhances the overall fitness level of a person. It makes us breathe deeper and perspire more, thereby leading to a feeling of enhanced body temperature.

Although many people ride automobiles for increased convenience, comfort and swift conveyance, there are inherent negative impacts of reduction in cycling population on health, environment and economy of the society. Cycling can prove to be the best mode to move around without any difficulty as it relieves us from frequent accidents, traffic congestions and parking inadequacies in the city.

Popularising bicycles is highly relevant at this hour of environmental pollution and global warming. It is also timely to mobilize people of all ages and classes to ride cycles while heading for schools, colleges, offices and business houses. It is indeed sensible and prestigious to ride bicycles.

"panthougi tabunung phaktuna thirusi, eikhoigi thawai ekagari
tusonna lotlamba meerang thuramba, chelhansi lambida ekagari,
nilhansi lamjao sorok khuding, ekagari mandila gi khonjelna .....

* Seram Neken wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition) . (The writer is a freelance journalist)
This article was webcasted on September 04 2011 .

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