With the Covid-19 crisis gripping the world with its claws, some, like senior citizens and daily wage workers, are disproportionately affected. And these disadvantaged people exceed the fortunate ones like myself. Since I’m a firm believer in ‘happiness for all’ and live by the mantra – ‘If not now, when? If not me, who?’ – I was finding ways to do my bit.
When a friend told me about Project Mumbai and their work in casual conversation, I realised I’d found a way to contribute. I joined Project Mumbai at the start of the lockdown in India and have been with them ever since. I started to help the senior citizens in Lokhandwala, since I’m familiar with the area. So everyday, Project Mumbai connects me with senior citizens and I cycle around buying fruits, vegetables and medicines as per their orders.
Very often, cycling in Bombay’s harsh heat and standing in long queues in an area serviced by only two grocery stores is arduous. However, working with Project Mumbai and being able to make some people’s lives easier gives me a purpose and agenda. On normal days, I’m a producer, but in these times of the Corona-crisis, I’m a volunteer and this makes my now-empty days worthwhile. a. Being a “delivery boy”, as christened by my padosi aunty, gives me pride.
Being a volunteer for Project Mumbai has been rewarding in more ways than one. I’ve often shopped for an 86-year-old Air Force veteran, who lives alone. Grateful and proud, he told everyone he knew about me. On many occasions, he told me that I exemplify the ideal Indian javaan. This made my day. Further, his daughter did reach out to thank me. With my father being a veteran of the Indian Navy, being able to help a fellow veteran was immensely fulfilling and gratifying and hearing his praise made it worth it. Helping this man makes me believe that someone like me, will look out for my parents, too, on a rainy day.
Another favourite experience of mine is how an 84-year-old woman was desperate to celebrate her husband’s 89th birthday by requesting for some biscuits. Now, since it wasn’t essential, I took my time, and I pride myself on responding instantaneously. The old lady added moong dal and rice to her list to make it essential. Sensing her desperation to celebrate and make the most of this situation, I ventured out into the heat, not for necessity but with the hope of bringing some joy to an old woman.
Volunteering has a been a new, different and humbling experience that I myself am really grateful for and I hope to continue doing so in anyway that I can.