Sunday, January 13, 2008

REFLECTIONS OF INDIA - BIKE SHOPS IN HYDERABAD
January 13, 2007 - arriving in Hyderabad

CELEBRATION AND NIGHT RIDE. We arrived in the bustling, rapidly-growing city of Hyderabad on this day one year ago. After riding only 20 miles, our entourage was greeted and celebrated with a street parade and gathering of over 500 Free Methodists. Lots of humbling hoopla. After a shared early-afternoon lunch, we got back on our bikes to travel through Hyderabad to our weekend quarters at the Operation Mobilization center on the other side of the city. What we thought would be a brief 10-mile jaunt turned into a harrowing 25-mile ordeal, as our local guide decided to take us around the city instead of through it. The extra time took us into the evening; we rode the last five miles in the dark--a scary ordeal on American roads and much moreso in India. But, we all arrived safely.

BIKES FOR SALE! I enjoyed stopping briefly at a few of the many bicycle shops in Hyderabad. More bikes than autos are sold and serviced in India, so a bike shop in a city is quite a center of activity and intrigue. The bike shop in the photo above is typical of an urban bicycle shop. It is a far cry from the single repairman sitting on the ground in the market that I observed on New Year's Eve. Most bikes are either Atlas, Hero or Hercules brands and are a standard-size, single-speed, sturdy-steel frame painted black. Most bikes in India are not used for recreation; they're used for work. But in the city we saw a few multi-speed bikes and a few bikes sporting mountain bike handlebars or sport-style features. But even sport bikes had to be used for ride sharing--as this older brother demonstrates.

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