April 8, 2016


It’s Saturday. I pick my gear up, fill the bottle, and take the bicycle out for an early morning ride. Past Graphite India main, and on to Varthur road for about 100m or so when I realize it has abruptly become bumpy. I look back, and to my worst fear, I’m looking at a flat. The Bontrager 26×2.1 XR2 has not had one before.

I get off, begin walking. The butcher shop nearby is getting its new stock, chicken cackling, with poop strewn around. I tip-toe and get my bike on the intermittently broken footpath. A couple of riders, dog walkers go past, and Taxis at dangerous speeds. I continue.

It’s some distance before I reach a fuel pump nearby, where I queue up for air. The attendant is friendly, careful, but the tire is not — keeps losing pressure. It is a puncture alright. So, I walk some more, for about 3km, before finding a tiny shack near Varthur lake. I approach and look around. A couple of old folk in traditional clothing, sitting on the pavement next to large truck tires there, point me to the shop next door, as if to suggest a fix.

I approach a busy young man. He looks up, seems eager to help. But just as he’s about to, the older large guy says something to him — I don’t quite hear, and the young man turns around and says I will have to wait. He then quickly begins moving stuff from their locked workshop out, sweeping and watering the courtyard. That’s when I see that he is barefoot. I am not yet used to scenes like these. Even in this day and age, a grown man, working his morning without footwear. Just another day in paradise.

I sit down on the stone bench, watch him do his chores. Finally, the large guy finishes his work, picks my bike up, and opens its rear tire. That’s when I realize it’s not the valve, no penetration either, but the tube has a fissure that is too close to the inlet valve. He says he needs to replace the whole valve and rubber around it, and that it will cost me Rs.150.- Not the best place or time to bargain, I let him. In the next ten minutes, it is fixed, and I am ready to roll again. I call home and say I’ll be late.