I have just come back from an interesting experience in a bike shed in Islamabad. I had been biking around with a puncture for the last few days as my puncture repair kit did not hold one of the most important items: the glue. However, who needs a puncture repair kit if one has duct tape in the house. When I wanted to fix the puncture, which hit me on my way back from the Serena Hotel (thank God it was in the front tyre so I could actually bike all the way home) I noticed that there was no glue in the puncture repair kit I brought with me from Kathmandu. So, what to do? I rummaged around my flat as there were a lot of things my predecessors had left (i.e. a box full of DVDs but mainly American soaps like “Desperate Housewives”, candles, towels, bedding, Veggiemite, etc.) and I found some duct tape, which I put on the little hole in my inner tube. And guess what – it worked, which was a good thing as I would have been in a real dilemma trying to get to work the next day.
But as I did not trust the duct tape to last longer than a few days, I ventured out to find a little man in the street to mend my bicycle. It took me only about five minutes until I found a little bike shed, where lots of people were milling around. Everybody in Islamabad seems to be very tired these days as Ramadan has been going on for nearly three weeks and the scorching temperatures do not really help when you cannot even drink before sunset.
So I tried to find somebody who spoke English, but no success. However, I remembered that you should use hands and feet when you don’t speak the lingo, and make yourself understood. So, I got out my tools, took the wheel off my bike, removed the outer tube, pumped up the inner tube and showed them the little hole. By that time I had a whole audience of people staring at me, which is not surprising as I don’t think they often see a woman on a bike – let alone a woman, who takes her bike apart.
Anyway, after a lot of staring a little boy, who was only around eight years old, took the tube off me and started working on it. It took about five minutes and the bike was fixed. The boy charged me 50 Rupees (which is about 80 cents), the rest of the audience wandered off as the show was over, and I was even able to purchase a puncture repair kit for future mishaps on my bike.