Cyclothon Stage 2: A spiritual awakening


A spiritual journey more than a cycling journey you could say, in spite of the relentless cycling often under the blazing sun and over rolling roads. This stage was a little more taxing from a cycling perspective as was to be expected. I went through all the legs reasonably comfortably, a few niggles notwithstanding. We have now completed 900 kms of the journey. The standout memory is spiritual, a gradual awakening that would leave all of us very different people deep inside of us as the journey progresses.


Several humbling experiences told us that there are journeys more taxing and arduous than the one I have embarked on. At a school for orphaned visually impaired just outside Davengere, we saw young children combating the challenges of learning to write in Braille. The thought of the journey of life that lay ahead of them had a sobering impact on us. Yet we were moved by their zeal to sing as they were being trained at this school founded by Sri Pt. Panchakshara Gavai, who was blind from birth but was an outstanding musician.

Even more moving was our visit to a government school for the blind in Hubli. The current premises are sparse and inadequate and the classrooms dark and depressing thankfully they are moving into a new and better premise in a month.

We were amazed at the confidence and agility showed by the visually impaired students. As they moved around the school premises, they gave no impression of visual impairment. Their confident demeanour was admirable. The students were tutored under the caring eye of the acting headmaster Annappa. He has devoted all his life to caring and teaching the visually impaired. He told us that he firsts orients the children to their surroundings so that they can move around unaided and with confidence. He then orients them to the world around them and helps them to use all the other senses and their hand and bodies to “see” the world around and understand where they are. He then teaches them to be self-sufficient in daily life skills. Finally, is the training to memories and use the Braille language and tools to communicate.

Rarely do you get to meet a teacher in a government school so very dedicated to his profession, increasing his own capabilities by completing an MEd.


Seeing so many caregivers at close quarters helped us understand that a re-engineering of your inner selves was necessary to be a good and caring caregiver on a sustained basis. I refer to caregivers as anyone working for uplifting the lot of the underprivileged. Be they teachers of the blind, or teachers of children from the poorest of the poor families or those caring for the shelterless and those chronically ill.


In Davengere we visited the Rasmi school for girls from the poorest of the poor families. We were struck by the disciple and training the girls were receiving. I can’t recall such discipline in a school or group of young children that I came across. There wasn’t a regimentation; it seemed that the students willing accepted a disciplined way of life.

The Kabeeananda ashram and the Anandadham ashram in Chitradurga stood out for us because of the relatively happy faces of the residents. Both these ashrams housed senior citizens and children. The proximity of these two disparate groups seems to be a good model. The elderly are in close proximity to the vibrancy and hope of the young and the young are exposed to the needs of the elderly.


Not such a good experience was the home for the urban homeless in Ambur.  The shelter which is run by an NGO and supported by the government was quite depressing. The dormitories were shabby and the residents had forlorn eyes devoid of hope.

At the Kabeeananda ashram, I was moved by the bright and hope-filled eyes of the children. The ashram runs a school for children who are orphans or from broken homes.  Something very good is happening at this place from what we could see.


We got a pleasant exposure to the ashrams run by religious Mutts. We stayed at the Sri Murugarajendra Mutt in Chitradurga. It was a large sprawling place well constructed and well maintained. There were rooms for travelers who needed to stay the night, home for orphaned children and large spacious canteens that served food for anyone who chose to walk in for a meal at lunch or dinner time. The Mutt serves food for approx. 1000 to 1500 every day. Above the dining area was a large conference room that could house approx. 5000 people. An impressive hall that had no pillars. On the 5th of every month, the Mutt conducts marriages for couples who wish to use this facility at no cost along with the wedding lunch for the guests.

We never got a chance to get a deep insight into the working of these Mutts but what we saw from the outside was very impressive. The influence these institutions have of the community is enormous. They seem to have a very necessary place in the fabric of the country.

At every place we went, we were warmly welcomed.


The Rotary Club of Chitradurga held a meeting where I was the key note speaker.

An event that warmed our hearts was a community meeting at Hiriyur which was held in a temple premise.

Welcomes galore was the order of the day.

And so the cyclothon goes on. It is as much a spiritual journey as a cycling event. We have much to learn on what it takes to be a caregiver.


Cyclothon Stage 1- Chennai to B’lore

Done and dusted you could say after a relatively less taxing ride. It was a bit strenuous from Ambur to Krishnagiri and a lot more on the Krishnagiri Hosur leg. Looking back it was the ideal start for this arduous endeavor. Lots of meetings, more than expected ceremony at the start and finish, a  doable ride and superb support along the way from HelpAge, TI Cycles and the support team of Prem, Premila and my wife Deepa.


With Senthimal, who accompanied us all the way from Chennai to B’lore, on the right.

IMG-20190119-WA0026-1Present at the kick off at Elliot’s Beach was the effervescent 92-year-old, Kamachi Subramanium.


Great supporters of the cause, family and friends.


And we are flagged off by Mr. TS Krishnamurty, the retired Chief Election Commissioner and Mr. Krishnaswamy, Vice President and Business Head of TI Cycles.

IMG-20190121-WA0001My childhood friend and classmate from class 5 all the way through Engineering college, KC Srinivas made arrangements for us to stay at the SCSVMV University guest house at Kanchipuram our first halting place. Srini arranged an interactive session for me with the faculty of the Department of Management Studies. It was a wonderful session with Dr. Ramana Kumar, theFaculty Head and other faculty members.

IMG-20190122-WA0020My dear friends Senguttuvan and Elangovan from the unforgettable HRL days drove down from Chennai in the early hours of the morning to see us off as we commenced our journey to Vellore. Sengu had just returned from a holiday in the UK, he braved jet lag and associated tiredness to come to see us off.

I am not going to give a blow by blow account of each day of the ride but instead, just pick and choose the top of the mind highlights.

Ambur suddenly turned into a press deluge and a retired Dy. Collector alerted the press of the cyclotron. The evening then belonged to the press. Subsequently, there was fair coverage in the Tamil language TV Channels and newspapers. Quite a few friends got back to say they say the coverage on TV or in the newspapers.

At Krishnagiri was our first close interaction with a home for the Urban Homeless.

The forlorn look and sadness in the eyes of the residents tugged at our heartstrings. We tried to suggest that there should be a bit more social and other activities for the residents but were told that many were traumatised at being abandoned by their family and needed psychiatric attention.

In contrast was the meeting with the employees of Sundran Fasteners that took place at Hosur.

Over a hundred employees attended on a voluntary basis, something that surprised the HR team, as they do not generally get so enthusiastic a response to training and development talks.

We spend the night at the Ramana Maharishi Sevasreya, a premium senior citizen home . We enjoyed the interactions with the residents and our stay. The place has an atmosphere that is quite appealing.

The 26th January, the 70th anniversary of our Republic Day saw a delightful R-Day event at the Ashram.

IMG-20190126-WA0089More was to follow at Attibelle, a little town at the border between Tamilnadu and Karnataka. HelpAge India had arranged a welcome and flag off event at this point. It meant that I had to ride just 10 kilometers to reach the venue from Hosur.

A surprise development was a quick visit to the nearby Jai Bharati school to participate in the R-Day function.

They did manage to make a monkey of me as you can see !!!!

My family, my grandson in particular and friends from the corporate world were present at the event making it very special.

IMG-20190126-WA0084It was time for a few days of relaxation before pedaling off to Tumkur and beyond to Belgaum. More strenuous cycling awaits me.


Flagging off at Elliot’s Beach, Chennai

IMG-20190119-WA0024The cyclothon is flagged off by Mr. TS Krishnamurthy, retired Chief Election Commissioner and Mr. Krishnaswamy, Business Head of TI Cycles. It was a wonderful event very well arranged by HelpAge and supported by many long-standing friends who attended to cheer me on.

IMG-20190119-WA0026In attendance was the indomitable Mrs. Kamachi Subramanium, 92 years, who says she is in no hurry to leave the world. In her words she loves to be with people, she loves talking to people and she loves the noise and buzz of people around her.

IMG-20190119-WA0040My steed for the ride lies perched on top of a TI Cycles support vehicle. With me are the friendly technicians who will be supporting me on the ride.

IMG-20190119-WA0031My cousin Brig. Mohan Bharathan makes a donation to HelpAge for their care projects for elders, the first of what may well be a copious flow.

IMG-20190119-WA0015Warm appreciation for the cause.

IMG-20190119-WA0046A light moment with very dear supporters of the cyclothon.

Dedication personified


Edwin Babu ( left) Muthukrishnan ( right) are long standing employees of HelpAge based in Chennai. In a matter of fact way, they share that HelpAge has rescued over 14000 senior citizens, many terminally ill, who were abandoned on the roadside. Muthu runs a helpline that receives alerts that trigger prompt action. I enjoyed talking to these very dedicated personnel from HelpAge India.

A press meet in B’lore sets the stage for the cyclothon

A press meet at the Press Club B’lore was an ideal stage to get the cyclothon rolling.

img_5491Sitting to my right as you view the photo is Mr. Murthy Rao, a ninety year old very active senior citizen. He runs an old age home with great care and empathy with the emphasis on active aging. One area he focuses on a lot is to ensure that the inmates are always engaging in one activity or another.

img_5486A few words of caution in preparation from Rekha Murty, the State Head -Karnataka of HelpAge Inda.  It was timely, there was dis-interest and an insistence on Kanada as the medium of exchange to start with but as the meeting progressed there was palpable interest.

img_5485The enthusiastic team from HelpAge India with Murthy Rao and Premila.

IMG-20190117-WA0003-1Quite a few reporters captured sound bites and carried out interviews. We may see some of these covered in the Kanada media.

On to Chenna now.

Support for my cyclothon

Posted by Silvertalkies on Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Blog post by Silvertalkies

HelpAge India- In support of Project Golden Sunset


With Mr.Mathew Cherian,CEO,HelpAge India. HelpAge is providing full support for my cycloton in aid of Old Age Care, Project Golden Sunset. HelpAge will support through their branch offices along the route of the cycloton and will also make available mobile medical units at select locations. HelpAge will mobilise the elderly to participate in the cycloton,by cycling short distances, at staging locations across the country.

An Epic endevour by an unstoppable 60-year old

My good friend Gagan Khosla on turning 60 decided to take on an epic endeavour. He cycled from Leh to Kanyakumari in the awesome time of 29 days. His epic effort is being showcased on the Epic Channel on Saturday 27th October 2018.
He is now dreaming of conquering Mount Everest.
Keep going Gagan !!