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I wish to pen down (key in?) a singular event I happened to experience, something that I wouldn’t forget soon. This blog post I hope will serve to me as a refresher down the memory lane, years later.

On Alex’s advice, I decided to run hills. (In his words, “You’ll hate yourself running uphill but I know no other method to improve your running speed and stamina.”)  I biked to the top of “Mt. Salisbury” and after running it up and down, was on my way back home. On the bridge on Lindberg Rd, I saw a girl drooping, leaning across the bridge. I gave her a second glance and biked ahead wondering if it she was running and the sun dehydrated her. But who runs in their sandals? I turned back and rode toward her.

“Are you alright? Do you want some water?”

She started sobbing. (Uh oh!) She drank some water and hugged me. My turn to freak out, because it wasn’t a brisk hug but a painfully long one.

“Whatever it is, it’ll be alright.” (I offered my two pennies of  solace).

“Would you help me commit suicide? I want to jump over.”

“This won’t help, it’s too shallow” (Who commits suicide jumping in a bog? She wouldn’t even have fractured herself! But I agree, this isn’t the best reply you can give to a girl contemplating death. In my defence, I handled it good enough, overall.)

She fell on the trail and I sat next to her, wondering what action to take. I asked her which direction her home was and that we should walk that direction. She told she was drunk, a fact I deduced during the aforementioned hug. I compelled her to keep walking to her home and get some rest. On the way, we embarked on a (trivial) discussion about the existence of god and the goodness in people. She told me how other people on the trail ignored her and walked past. She was a Purdue undergrad; her life was in shambles and she had no one. (I believe the last part is false; for you need some parent / guardian who’ll fund your undergrad, especially in this country. I didn’t challenge her.)

She also mentioned she had been contemplating suicide for years and that I should help her. (Now I am of the opinion that if a person truly wants to die in spite of being counseled, the government should give them the opportunity. In India and Indiana, it’s a felony. Nonsense; but I’ll save this discussion for another day.)

Now this girl jumps over the railing and stands on the road, waiting to be hit by a car. The speed limit for that road is 30 mph, so again an ineffective way to kill oneself. Again I sprung into action and made her jump to the other side. At this time, she collapsed in the grass. I felt it the perfect moment to call 911. She rose up and tried to snatch my cellphone but I overpowered her. Sensing trouble, she ran away in the direction of her home. I gave her description to the authorities and no sooner than I traveled some 100m than I saw a Sheriff car (without sirens, interestingly!) turn towards the apartment complex. They caught her as soon as she was about to enter the house and interrogated her. My role ended with me narrating the cops this incident and giving my identity.

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Tailpiece: Do you think we have free will? Was it my own free will that made me turn around and help (?) the girl out? Or was I programmed? My life would have been a bit different had I chosen to ignore and bike past her.

Assume for the moment that we do have free will. Was I right in doing what I did? For all I know, this suicide attempt stays on her “file” possibly throughout her life. Perhaps she was suffering with a terminal disease and death was her best option. Even then, I think I acted wisely. I think I can justify my actions. What do you say?

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. — Albert Einstein

With this in my mind, I pushed myself against the winds as I completed 125 miles from Bloomington to West Lafayette in two days. It was a fundraising bike-ride called the “Bucket 100” organized by the Habitat for Humanity, an organization that builds houses for the homeless.

Let me firstly heartily thank my dear friends who helped me complete my fundraising goal. Kudos!

We set out on Saturday morning on a bus to Bloomington, IN. The night halt was 60 miles away at a school at Danville and today morning (28 Oct, Sunday) we set out for Purdue.

Tanner and me

The maximum I have ever rode on a bike was around 30 miles, around Purdue, so 60 in a day, and then 65 the next day seemed formidable. On the first day, the winds were not very strong but Bloomington is full of small hills. (In fact, the beautiful IU campus reminds me of the IITB campus with its hilly terrain). I found a biker friend in Tanner, whom I befriended in one of the practice rides. We encouraged each other to pull ourselves; at one point, we missed a turn and ended up cycling 6 miles extra. The last 10 miles were the toughest with daunting hills but the drive to reach kept us going. After arduous efforts I made it to Danville, wondering how I would make tomorrow’s 65 miles. But it was okay as I did those (dull) ‘stretching’ exercises.

The next morning (today) was much more challenging. The route from Danville to West Lafayette was a typical mid-west one. You can see nothing but farm-land for miles on end. The north (Chicago) winds have nothing – no forests, trees, houses – to stop them and we had to ride head-on into the wind. Tanner fell behind but I found myself riding with Karen, an awesome biker from near Chicago. We drafted each other from the wind alternately without which I could never have completed my ride. On the way, we passed lakes, rivers, railway-tracks, stinky pig-farms and many strange animals. At one point, a pet dog started following us even beyond a mile! We carried it to a nearby golf-club and whose owner was kind enough to keep it for a while.

Karen and I after completing the ride

The SAG vans (support and gear) stopped at regular intervals and we could replenish ourselves with energy bars, bagels, energy drinks and also chat with other bicyclists. Elaina and Marcus did a fantastic job of coordinating the entire ride – from marking the route to arranging the victory cake. It was great to get to know some cool people from Purdue and beyond!

I tracked my whole ride through my iPhone and it’s fun taking a look at the statistics. Here is the link –

Day 1      Day 2

Some ride photos

PS: Marcus has clicked an awesome photo of me, just as I rode toward the finish line. I will upload it as soon as he emails it to me. (Here it is…)

At the finish line

PS: The previous post on the blog was about mandibular fractures, my experience about the broken jaw from the bicycle accident. I would like to tell the distressed reader that recovering from a fracture takes time but life comes back to normal sooner than you expect!

About me

Abhishek Parab

I? An Indian. A mathematics student. A former engineer. A rubik's cube addict. A nature photographer. A Pink Floyd fan. An ardent lover of Chess & Counter-Strike.

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