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Redefining the term senior citizen

Why should youth have all the fun? Senior citizen Sharat Sharma is trying to dispel the myths of old age, by riding across the country in the third innings of his life

Janice Savina Rodrigues|NT BUZZ

What happens when a person hits 60? He generally retires from his day job, puts his legs up and relaxes. But as soon as the farewell parties are over and wishes stop pouring in, the adjusting to a day of no work sets in. There are no early mornings of hurried breakfasts, no buses to catch, no meetings scheduled. This can be overwhelming for some.

And this is what Delhi based retired journalist Sharat Sharma decided to beat. After retiring from a national daily as an editor he chose not to sit at home. Instead he decided to do a cross-country solo tour on his bike. “I wanted to spread the word that entering the third innings of your life, doesn’t mean you quit dreaming or stop trying to achieving those dreams,” he says.

Beginning his solo ride on March 18, 2018, Sharma aims to cover 28,000 kilometres on his bike, riding from Delhi through the 29 states, 4 Union Territories and Bhutan. “I have reached Goa after covering 22 states, Puducherry and Bhutan, and have logged 22,650 km so far,” he quips.

His energy levels now can give even a 20 year old a run for his money, but Sharma says he wasn’t always this healthy. Busy schedules, ever looming deadlines and stiff competition had become the order of the day and Sharma’s health began to deteriorate. “I realised then that if I was going to keep my dreams for later, I would need to be healthy to fulfil those,” he says.

He believes that fitness regimes must be followed throughout one’s life to avoid spending the third innings in hospitals.

“I believe we all are born to complete our life’s journey in three innings. The first innings is when we get ready to face the world with our education. The second innings is when we nurture our family and also fulfil our career goals. The third innings is when we fulfil our dreams,” he explains.

Saddened by the fact that India has become a diabetes capital of the world and is on way to becoming the world’s capital of cholesterol diseases as well, Sharma believes that this is because we have opted for a sedentary lifestyle. “We must work towards a nation of healthy citizens,” he says.

He adds that with the solo trip he has another intent, that of promoting road safety. “This is for the young bike riders in the country. In 2016-17, a total 150,785 people died in accidents. 52,500 of these victims were bikers. 18.3 per cent of these were without helmets and 46.3 per cent of total accident victims were between 18 and 35 years,” he states. He pleads that youngsters should follow traffic discipline. “There has also been an alarming increase in accidents owing to mobile phone use while driving. I ride without using mobile phone, GPS and navigation tools and want to prove that bike rides can be managed and enjoyed without these. I interact with the locals and they give me the best information about the roads as they live there,” says Sharma, who has funded the trip using his own savings.

Speaking about his experiences, he says that an encounter with a lioness in the Gir forests will always remain etched in his memory. “She walked past me about 5 metres away!” he exclaims. The other incident he was deeply touched by was that of Jharia in Jharkhand, which has the coal mines burning since the 1960’s. “The entire place is just collapsing into itself, due to the burning of the mines, where there was a railway route now there is a deep valley, the fields are destroyed. What saddened me the most was that even today, people continue to mine for coal in the village only to feed other industries. They work and live in very pitiable conditions. The locals told me there is no help from the government and they were given accommodation in other towns, but with no skills and livelihood they had to opt to remain where they are,” he shares.

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