I’ve Got Wheels!

by Annalise on December 1, 2009

Look out Kathmandu, I’ve got wheels!

I’ve been traveling to and from the schools where I work for many weeks now. Initially, when I really had little sense of the route and I felt I was finding the schools mostly by braille, I took the taxis. As both the schools’ locations and the best route to get there became clearer, I started to use the local buses. This worked pretty well when I caught the right bus and when there was even standing room but it could only get me so close to the schools and I ended up walking almost a third of the way in any case. I was walking the other day through a narrow lane from the school. There was a vehicular impasse as a van and a taxi were deciding who should back up to allow the other to pass. A motorcyclist, impatient with this scene squeezed past me as I was walking by. As only one pedestrian, I presented the least obstacle. I was squeezed off the narrow path and as she passed, her tail pipe actually burnt my leg. Now I know why none of the locals leave their legs bare. It’s healing but jeez, what’s a girl to do?!

This week I had a couple of instances where I had to take taxis and the consistency of the haggle inspired me to consider a bicycle. Each time, a taxi approaches offering me a ride. I agree and insisted on using the meter for the fare which appears to be accepted and I tell him where I’m headed. Once I’m seated, the cabbie tells me his meter isn’t working and that this trip will cost 300 rupees. I’ve done this trip, I know it won’t cost more than 150 on the meter and I tell him so. He comes back suggesting 250 rupees. I’m tired of the game so I open the door and have one foot out the door when he says, “O.k. meter”. Aurgh!

I’ve watched the cyclists maneouver within the traffic and they appear to be the most successful at getting through the jams with least frustration. The traffic in the city rarely achieves a speed exceeding 30 km/hr and I think motorcycles out number vehicles by about 2 to 1. Bicycles are offered the same space as the motor bikes and I’ve concluded they are a great fit within this compliment of vehicles. No question, the taxi cabs, the vans, and buses of all sizes own the road but I’ve seen some pretty old folks riding along happily amidst this ciaos.

So on Wednesday morning, after some research, some assistance from Dave who knows a great deal about bicycles, and yes, some haggling, I bought a bicycle. Now I have two bicycles at home in Calgary, one for speed and a cruiser for commuting to work in dress clothes and this new acquisition is not anything like those two fantastic bikes, but it is my own set of wheels! Like a Canadian Tire beginner bike and at a fraction of the price this is a simple model. It has sturdy components, a single speed and a mountain bike frame. And, I’m happy to report that it is flame red. Now I feel at home!

Besides, what’s a Dutch girl without a bicycle?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Myrene December 1, 2009 at 8:52 am

It must have been a tight fit if a tailpipe managed to connect with your skinny pins. :)

LeeAnne December 1, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Good for you – a beautiful Dutch girl on a red bicycle – what more could you ask for?

Annalise December 1, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Ouch! Literally and now emotionally. They may be skinny pins but I still prefer them without burn scars. It’s o.k., they can’t catch me now!

Annalise December 1, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Well don’t be counting on beautiful but certainly the bike is red. And now with my new burnt orange winter jacket, I’ll be visible!

Shirley Robertson December 2, 2009 at 7:23 am

Dutch or not, you are eother very brave or………… Remember, I have experienced that traffic and there is NO WAY I would try to ride a bicycle through it. But then, I wouldn’t jump off bridges either!!!!! You are truly amazing. Cycle safely.

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