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Kolkata, India

I’ve given the bike away. Or sold it, but for 2500 Rupees, which is just over £30, to the guy who works in the hotel I’ve been staying in for the past two weeks. He’s been asking about it most of the time I’ve been here, seeing it sitting out the back not being ridden.

It’s actually GediBikes who have given the bike away. Donated it to kolkata. Not the most bike friendly place in the world. Probably one of the least bike friendly places in the world, but it is one of the most congested so a bike could be a great way of getting around. It could also be a great way of getting killed, though probably safer than being a pedestrian, which is what most people here are. Almost every day in the paper, The Calcutta Telegraph, I read about someone having been killed in an accident. A lorry carrying a crane tipping over as it went around a corner, killing three. A man out for an early morning walk being killed by a speeding truck trying to get past a police road block set up to take bribes, according to bystanders who rioted and blocked the road themselves after the accident in protest. That was the day before yesterday. And when buses run people over, which apparently happens quite regularly, people will storm the bus and set fire to it. A number of buses look like this has happened to them several times. It’s for that reason that most vehicles here won’t stop after an accident.

One thing the new owner will need to get for the bike is a bell.

I have mixed feelings about seeing the bike go. I don’t want to cycle around India, and it felt like a waste the bike just sitting out the back of the hotel, and travelling on a train would be awkward, on a bus possibly impossible. So being free of it is like losing a burden. But I’ve been through a lot with that bike. That part of me would like to place it in a glass cabinet. On a gold plaque on the base of the cabinet would be written: The GediBikes’ Rush Hour, ridden 6649km from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Vancouver, British Columbia between July and October 2005. And sticking out of the cabinet, through holes in the galss, would be the pedals which spectators could turn to see that the bike was still in full working order. But no one would be able to ride it. It would be too precious for that. That’s how it was starting to feel. Too worried about it being stolen wherever I went. Now I don’t have that worry any more.

I still have possessions I’m worried about losing. It would be much better if you could just hire possessions rather than having to own them, which you can but that’s not the point.

I’m not sure if I charged him too much or too little. I could’ve got 3000 Rupees. That was what he agreed to pay, but he was saying he only earns 1500 a month and would have to borrow to get 3000. 1500 a month is 50 Rupees (65p) a day, which would buy a coffee and two biscuits in the cafe I went to today. Maybe he lied about what he earns. Since I’m paying 200 a night for the room I’m in, and the people in the dorm are paying 70 a night, someone is making quite a bit of money out of this place. Though it’s on Sudder Street, the main tourist area, so rents and property prices must be high, and this hotel seems to support about ten people, so once the profits are divided between them, if that’s how it’s done, perhaps they’re not getting that much.

I don’t know. After any kind of deal there’s always some uncertainty. Especially in this country, when you come from a country where prices and values are fixed. Looking at buying a rucksack this evening a guy on one of the stalls where I’d looked at a couple but decided they were crap and I didn’t want them, the guy was trying to get me to name my price, but I wouldn’t. I just repeated the price he’d said to me, 850, as if it was a fixed price. You told me the price was 850, I said. But how much do you want to pay? It doesn’t make any difference how much I want to pay. You told me the price was 850 and I don’t want to pay that so I’ll have a look around some other places. You can have it for 800.


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