Prof J Shah, IIM-U director cycling to the campus in the morning
And those who pull up next to him at the traffic signal in their fancy cars, either stare at him in awe or gather the courage to wish him a good day knowing well that he is the IIM-U director who thinks more for their city’s environment than they do.
But for Prof Shah, the idea behind cycling his way to school is not to make a statement or impression. “When I cycle, I take in the sights and sounds of the city and that helps me get closer to what the city really is. IIM-U is a new institution in Udaipur and what better way to know than to see it first hand in such close proximity everyday ,” the director adds.
“My fondness for cycling stems from my IIT Kanpur days where all faculties cycled inside the campus and to the respective buildings to deliver lectures. There, professors conducted programmes across IITs and were given bicycles for commuting purposes. That made me realise the greatness of this truly healthy habit,” says Prof Shah.
The IIM-U director has been provided a Toyota Etios by the government but the vehicle lies idle at the campus and is used for guest lecturers and other official needs. According to IIM-U students, there are a few other cars at the director’s disposal on the campus but none of the students have ever seen him behind the wheel of any.
It is a good six kms from Prof Shah’s home to the campus and nothing deters the IIM director from this routine. “Yes, sometimes, the heat can get killing and of course when it rains too heavily I have to use some other form of transport but otherwise it is always the cycle,” the IIM director declares.
The exercise definitely keeps Prof Shah fit, if not anything else. A trim and lean figure, Prof Shah can give some of his students a run for their money when it comes to fitness. Inspired by him, Prof Shah’s wife is also contemplating using the bicycle as a mode of transport. “We have not come to it but she has been planning for a while to cycle together to buy home provisions or just for some exercise,” added Prof Shah.
Students at IIM-U are also encouraged to use a bicycle instead of any other mode of transport. And they definitely feel encouraged after seeing their own director do so. “More so, since Prof Shah is always in the campus very early and very fresh despite cycling to the institute. This means that cycling can actually be an invigorating exercise,” said one of the students.
And mind you, Prof Shah does not have any modern or racer bicycle, just an ordinary one that he maintains very well, which gives him the pick-up he needs every morning.
Come light showers, sunshine or Udaipur ki thandee, all you have to do is look out on the city's roads and the the cyclist you see riding to work as if life was one big happy place, could very well be rushing for a heavy meeting with some top-notch government officials or simply to deliver a lecture.