As Bengaluru goes into lockdown to check the spread of Covid-19, I contemplate the fate of my morning cycling routine. It’s the only mode of travel, or physical activity for that matter, which makes me sit up and admire my surroundings.
The city’s traffic manners aren’t anything to boast about. The exhaust fumes of the motor vehicles and dust from the incessant construction also make my throat scruffy. So, I tend to cycle on smaller, country roads on the city’s outskirts instead, or ride my mountain bike (with its fat, shock-absorbing tyres and suspensions) on off-road trails — away from the traffic and into the cradle of nature.
I’m fortunate to live close to Avalahalli State Forest in North Bengaluru, a place I’ve grown deeply familiar with over the past seven years, a place that is comforting to me. There’s the predictable: a hardpacked mud path lined by silver oaks splintering into a network of trails running through a ‘forest’ of mostly eucalyptus trees, peeking granitic rocks that create tricky descents and gruelling climbs, and thorns of shrubs that hook onto my exposed skin — sometimes drawing blood. Then there’s the unpredictable: changing conditions that alter my tyres’ traction, darting hares or skulking mongooses that startle me, and gliding peacocks that distract me from the trail.
Usually, the only time Avalahalli attracts a ‘crowd’ of more than five people is on Sundays. In the past two weeks, though, after companies instructed their employees to work from home, I’ve seen a surge of activity. There are a lot more runners, cyclists, walkers and people sitting idly. And I’ve also seen a lot more women riding their cycles for leisure, both on the road and inside the forest.
These sightings make me wonder. If there were fewer vehicles plying our roads, even past the lockdown, would more people be willing to ride? Would more women feel encouraged to reclaim public spaces and bring their cycles out, perhaps to get fitter, perhaps to have a lower carbon footprint, or perhaps just because they once enjoyed the feeling of being on a cycle?
For Payoshni Saraf, the call for social distancing was also a call back to cycling, something she’d given up after being diagnosed with a health issue. The gym in her building shut down and so did the group fitness classes. So, she got her old cycle repaired in order to go on a 30-minute ride every morning, now that she is cured of her ailments. She needs that time alone to think and reflect on things. “Walking wasn’t doing it for me,” she explains. “We have two dogs who we have to walk, so I wanted to do something else.”
Saraf, now in Bengaluru, grew up in Kanpur, where she would regularly cycle around her colony. “I always liked cycling. I think that just the sense of being able to slowly get to somewhere is very precious.”
Growing up, I would ride my cycle around my house, round and round, nearly every single day until a neighbour told my mother that I was making her dizzy. I rode to stores, friends’ homes and to school. Cycling allowed me to move around the city independently, away from my parents’ watchful eyes. Cycling gave me time to think, to create fictional worlds and to witness the real one change every year. Cycling was a way of life: it’s what everyone my age seemed to be doing.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Sisters Tashi and Tara Mitra demonstrate to Akanksha Pandey how deviating from the mainstream can bend the way we think, live and dress
NOTES TO SELF
An anthropomorphized tiger’s perspective, a viscerally worded futuristic interpretation of loss, a critique of performative activism, a meta reflection on the earth’s crises. Told through different lenses, Janaki Lenin, Indrapramit Das, Keshava Guha and Roshan Ali’s stories — written exclusively for Verve — attempt to make sense of the fraught reality that we exist in today
The Eternal Optimist
As Generation X and xennials grapple with fully transitioning to conscious living, young millennials and Generation Z are leading the charge to reverse human-caused environmental damage. Sahar Mansoor, founder and CEO of the Bengaluru-based zero-waste social enterprise Bare Necessities, has a simple overarching philosophy: consume less and stay positive. Verve gets deeper into the mindset of the action-oriented earth advocate
Indian music festivals have been demonstrating a refreshing sense of responsibility in terms of their ecological impact. Interacting with stakeholders who strive to make these large-scale events greener, Akhil Sood investigates the reasons behind the improved attitudes of audiences and the increase in corporate support.
Crafted using nature’s elements, these dials draw inspiration from the many heterogeneous materials and hues around us.Verve turns its lens onto a mesmerising few
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
Children are holding adults accountable for both the grim future they are facing and the toll this is taking on their mental health. Madhumita Bhattacharyya initiates conversations with families of young climate activists and observes the extent to which parenting has changed in the face of catastrophe
Most of us are only just waking up to the urgency of climatic action. When the stakes are so high, what can individual action solve? Mridula Mary Paul, an environmental policy expert, is proof of the tenacity needed to effect systemic change. It’s not glamorous, and the rewards are few and far between, but that doesn’t stop her from aiming big, finds Anandita Bhalerao
Along For The Ride
Navigating Indian streets as a woman is hard enough. But what is it like while riding a bicycle? Bengaluru-based Shreya Dasgupta, a regular cyclist, speaks to five urban women about the pros and cons of this increasingly popular means of transport.
Diamonds With Provenance
In keeping with the company’s commitment to environmental and social responsibility, Anisa Kamadoli Costa, chief sustainability officer at Tiffany & Co. and chairman and president at The Tiffany & Co. Foundation, enlightens Shirin Mehta on the efforts that make the jewellery giant an industry leader in transparency
This generation’s penchant for thoughtless consumption gets Madhu Jain roiled up, and she wonders if nature is getting its own back for our missteps…
A User's Guide to Living - Part 9
Happiness, Food and Resources
The Road to Dharma A Different Motorcycle Adventure Series
The Road To Dharma
How to succeed in uncertain times
In a difficult environment, leaders need to resist the impulse to adopt a defensive pose. They must instead take actions that will position their organization for success.
‘No work, no money': Many continue homeward march
Task Force Formed To Facilitate Movement Of Migrants
Dead Cat Bounce?
The latest Business Today Business Confidence Index (BCI) shows slight improvement in overall sentiment despite the pessimism around economic and business issues
‘The Middle Class Buys Dreams. The Businessman Sells Unrealistic Ones'
Anand Kumar starts the interview by setting the context. “Let’s get the math right,” says the mathematician.
‘P' FOR PUMPKIN
Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi on finding produce, parenting, and persistence through a pandemic.
WOMEN EMPOWERING WOMEN
This March, as we celebrate the spirit of women empowerment and feminine power, we take a glance into the lives of women who have conquered tough times to shine bright and they are the heroes of their own stories.
WON FINE DAY!
DEVESH SHARMA chronicles the winners of the Planet Marathi Presents Filmfare Awards Marathi 2020
DEVESH SHARMA OFFERS A BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF ALL THE DRAMA AND THE MADNESS OF THE RECENTLY CONCLUDED PLANET MARATHI PRESENTS FILMFARE AWARDS MARATHI 2020