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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Now this is something I like!


Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google Inc, went to work riding a bicycle, on a day when shareholders were meeting too, because it was Bike to work day at the company, which encourages green (eco-friendly) policies.

Brin, when I last checked, was worth $14 billion. As far as I know, he is a reasonably busy man. I should guess he ought to have some 'status' (the way Indians understand it) to maintain, too. None of these things stopped him from biking to his office. And hundreds of his humbler colleagues did the same   - some came from 50-plus miles away!

But of course, we Indians (however more or less 'successful' we are, from clerks to celebrities, and their children) are far too 'busy' and 'important' to do such silly things...

P.S.: I have put Sergey's blog on my blogroll.

12 comments:

Aakash said...

Dear Sir,

Cycling to work/school is being increasingly encouraged in the US. Jobin, my ex-colleague, used to cycle to office in Hyderabad. It was six kilometres each way. He had picked up this habit while he was a student in the US.

With regards,

Aakash

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Good to hear that, Aakash, though I very much doubt that your friend inspired many of his Indian colleagues to do the same: I should guess everyone regarded him as a freak. We pick up very few good habits from westerners!

Aakash said...

You're quite right Sir, he was looked at as 'different'. What I liked about him was that he had the conviction.

My personal opinion though is that cycling in Hyderabad isn't a good idea. Jobin himself had a couple of brushes, but he continued cycling to office.

Delhi though has cycle lanes, but only in the more affluent areas. In the suburbs, and you've seen the area where we stay, motorists use the cycle lane. We're hoping the Commonwealth Games forces the government into action.

Rajdeep said...

Sir,
This is nothing strange. Many of my professor used to come by bicycle to university from miles away. Some of them do possess the best cars but they choose to use a mountain bike etc.
A French national toured almost the whole of mainland Japan by bicycle because he wanted to see the country well.
And there are others who stay abroad for decades picking up neither the language nor understanding the culture.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

So does Amartya Sen when he comes to Shantiniketan, Rajdeep, and so does Venkatraman Ramakrishnan at Cambridge University, UK - Nobel Laureates both, and revered in scholarly circles worldwide, and not poor men either of them! My point is (see my conversation with Aakash above) that so many of us 'smart and modern' Indians believe that such simplicity (and eco-friendliness, and humility) is outdated and foolish, and that it is essential to squander money and show off our material possessions (among which cars are very high on the priority list) to tell people that we have arrived. Everybody is doing it, from doctors to government clerks to crooks pretending to be businessmen. It's becoming shameful and sickening, at least to the likes of me. And it is mostly this category of people who call me 'arrogant'...

Subhasis Graham Mukherjee said...

it takes a bit more for this to work well. Bike storage facilities in most workplaces and facilities. Transit services like buses, ferries and metro trains accommodating carrying of bikes. workplaces having showers and lockers to freshen up and change after the biking to work. city having dedicated bike lanes in the busiest of areas. general awareness, respect and care of motorists for bikers.

given all these in full and enforced measures in Vancouver, I still sneak in at work with my less than flattering waistline with a few huffing and puffing biker colleagues in the best of shapes.

I do take the transit and don't drive. but that's where it ends - wish I could take it further.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

You are absolutely right about the need for facilities, Subhasis. But reflect - if the public need for them is not felt (as in India), these facilities will never be provided! Personally, I'd like to walk, bike or take public transport all the time, if only they were of a high order, and safe. Alas, that is never likely to happen in this country. We'll only have more and more cars and motorbikes polluting the air, clogging the roads, and killing and maiming people endlessly. I fear for my own family all the time, having had so many acquaintances killed already, and several narrow escapes myself...

Take care of your health, old friend, so that you don't have to huff and puff.

Arnab said...

Sir, I think that the idea of "Bike to work" day is really brilliant, not only because it is Eco-friendly but also because it can be a good way to exercise in our "busy" life. It is a sorrowful fact that we supposed "modern" and "educated" Indians, who are so keen on becoming "advanced" like the westerners, don't follow this. But can't we propose to make a law that would compel the people to lock up their fancy automobiles and bike to work at least one day in th whole year. People don't oppose to the countless numbers of "bandhs" in a year, and so I think they must not oppose to the idea of biking for a day. If people can pay thousands of rupees to go figure they should not disagree with the idea of getting both the chance and the time to get an exercise for free.And about the idea being silly - well, if people like Sergey Brin and Bill Gates don't think this idea to be silly and have no problem devoting to time to bike to meetings, we "busy" and "important" Indians, who think that copying westerners make us "smart", and surely take up "courage" and sort out time for this "silly" event.

--Arnab Mondal
(Class X, Third Batch, St.xavier's[ICSE 2011])

E-mail:- arnabmondal.ii94@gmail.com

Suvro Chatterjee said...

It's obvious that this post was not to the taste of many of my readers!

Seeing that a few very young people have commented on it, however, I'd like them to see whether they could get their parents even to read this blogpost, leave alone act upon it...

Suvro Chatterjee said...

... My readers may be tickled to know that a few months after I had bought a car, a middle-aged neighbour who had till then never talked to me, stopped me on the street to say mashtarmoshai, gaari kinechhen bolen ni toe? (Sir, you've bought a car, why didn't you tell me)? And of late I have heard the rumour going around that I had replaced that car with a fancier, costlier one! This is the sort of thing that interests our people - the same people who would never dream of reading this blog. Riding a bicycle? How uncool can you get? Doesn't even a rickshaw puller's son know these days that anything less than a motor bike is infra dig?

avishek said...

Dear sir,
i only wish many more youngsters in India can actually put into practice what they learn. The youngsters learn that it is good to cycle to work – both for one’s own health and also necessary for the sake of reducing environmental pollution. But in India, i find that such learning remains confined in the textbooks of environmental studies only. Students go through this only before exam day and vomit it out in the exam papers. It is sad they never bother to emulate them in real life. Students find it stylish to move around in bikes and cars. Ironically they feel it is a part of growing up. Instead if you move around in cycles after your higher secondary school, people feel you are not ‘cool’ enough .

sir, it was great to go through the pictures of ‘Bike to Work’ day at Google. I particularly liked the Conference Bike – it was the first of its kind I have seen. More such efforts need to be encouraged by our schools and colleges in India – this is highly necessary to motivate the students to actually inculcate these things in real life. Unimbibed learning will not be of any help in the long run. It will be highly praiseworthy if the directors and senior managers of big companies lead by example. This is especially required more in our country – it will show the way for the employees to do the same thing. Unfortunately at present, this is only a wishful thinking .

Regards,
Avishek

Suvro Chatterjee said...

It's not just about bikes, Avishek. There are lots of things we 'learn' at school only to score in examinations and forget thereafter. Think about nutritional facts (what is good for the health and what is not) and about human rights. For some reason that I have not yet managed to fathom, our children somehow know that these things are 'not important'. The same goes for all the science that we memorize - it does little to remove the superstitions that our elders successfully drive into our heads at home. Nehru, who did so much to upgrade science and tech education, would have been amazed to see how education leaves our doctors and engineers utterly unaffected where superstition is concerned, whether it be black cats on the road or the inadvisability of marrying 'mangliks' or the efficacy of amulets! Whoever thought that education automatically makes more enlightened people never saw contemporary India!