10 Jul 2010

29th Road, Pali Naka

Neighbourhood Cyclewallas

Like the Chinese, whom we love to compare ourselves with unfavourably, we Indians have all but discarded the sturdy Heros and Hercules that are almost identical to the Flying Pigeon bikes that clogged the Chinese roads before they graduated to bigger and faster wheels like many of us.

However thousands continue to use bicycles, especially our Doodhwalas and Newspaper Boys. It's just that they have become invisible; a blind spot to our eyes, along with pedestrians.

The neighbourhood cycle shops continue to exist too, occupying the cheapest real estate possible. Kids and those who allow their kids to use bicycles are the only ones who know where they can get a flat tyre or loose chain fixed. They have become invisible too.

However it's too early to nudge these invisibles off the road. There are hundreds of wealthy individuals and die-hard bicycles fans in Mumbai who are trying to make the humble bicycle reappear on our sardine-packed city roads.

These pictures were shot in a bicycle shop called "Gear" in upmarket Bandra West that will make you see the human powered wheels in a new light. It caters to bike enthusiasts who have chosen to sweat it out on their way to work or on their days off.

Unlike the common man who uses it for his daily commute, the bike to this new sweating class is a social networking tool. An activity that brings people with the same interest closer. And according to Rahul, the owner of "Gear", there are tens of cycling and BMX groups across the city that makes his business possible. They are the Neighbourhood Cyclewalaas. And their mantra is health and fun.

However, cycling in Mumbai is healthy only if you are a mannequin. If you are a normal human being, the pollution could clog your lungs on any gear. That's one reason the groups prefer to cycle on holidays and Sundays. If not, you will need this gear that will filter out some of the smoke.

The number of newspaper clippings on the wall at "Gear" suggests that cyclists are getting a fair share of publicity. The bikes and accessories on sale are mostly imported and strictly for enthusiasts who can afford it. They are also very colourful and designed to look "kewl". Because one of the main reason for becoming a neighbourhood cyclewalla is stand out in the crowd and be different. And why not?

Links: Gear Bike Shop


Bhim Prasad Ghimire said...

1st photo. great composition

Anonymous said...

Really nice pics!

SloganMurugan said...

Thank you!

The knife said...

hey lovely pics...close to my home too :)

MJ said...

Liked the fist photo.
Been commuting 2/3 times a week on a cycle for over a year now. Never felt the need for a filter though :)

SloganMurugan said...

Thank you, Kalyan.

MJ. That's good. Which route do you take?

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