Every Sunday and holiday, in Bogota, 120 kilometers (74 miles) of streets are closed to motor vehicles. It’s called Ciclovia and although there are now Ciclovias all over the world, it was invented here in Colombia in 1974.
Bogotanos love to exercise. Every day, the weather is always 65 F here, so every Sunday is a great day to get outside and exercise. Ciclovia starts at 7 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. There are bikes for rent, food stands, bike repair stands, and a vast array of non-motorized conveyances. Hundreds of staff work as crossing guards, counters (I don’t know exactly if that’s what they are doign but that’s my guess), and sign-movers.
I’ve seen more kinds of wheeled vehicles here than I knew existed. Tricycles, scooters, duo-scooters, skateboards, inline skateboards, bikes, trikes, unicycles, tandem bikes, quatro-bikes, strollers, and a reclining wheeled things (I don’t know what it’s called). Some people even transport their own stereos in their bike basket.
Not everyone uses wheels. There are joggers, walkers, dog walkers, and bouncers (shoes with bouncy springs). There are people of all ages and all shapes. Even some with parasols.
For some expats, the biggest souvenir they buy in Bangladesh is a rickshaw. I decided to buy one for the blogging experience. There are many places where you can get them. Apparently the folks at River Tours will arrange a sale for you. If you want a used one, it is unlikely that the local rickshaw puller owns his own and so he may not be able to sell it to you. A colleague bought two rickshaws so I got the shop information from him.
Then I enlisted the help of two Bangladeshis. One arranged for us to go out to the rickshaw “shop” and made an appointment with the rickshaw maker for us. The shop we went to was back in the rabbit warren of streets to the north of Baridhara (it ended up being somewhere near the train tracks, for those of you who know your way around Baridhara). Without my Bangla-speaking Bangladeshi, I would never have found this shop. The shop was more of a “parts” shop and there were no shiny ready-made rickshaws for sale. That said, looking at the photo, now I see the tires on the roof.
Rickshaw Maker: Hasan
Address: Maria Cycle store, 97/1 Joar Shahara Bazar Road, Dhaka.
The rickshaw took one week to build, it weighs 250 pounds, and cost 20,000 taka (about $250). I paid 5,000 taka in down payment and rest on delivery as you can see from the receipt but you can pay all of it at once if you prefer. If I had bought two or more, I would have received a bulk discount (and remember that everything can be negotiated so I could have perhaps haggled to a lower price. Frankly, I was distracted by the gentleman on the right in the photo who was performing depilation in his nostrils — I could not take my eyes off his fingers!).
I left the decoration of the rickshaw completely up to the craftsmen making it. At one point, the shop owner called to find out which name I wanted painted on the back and my friend told him to put my name on the back! I will most likely paint over it at some point. The rickshaw also has the maker’s telephone number and name painted on it. I like how my rickshaw is decorated although I would have chosen to not have guns painted on it, despite this being the tradition.
The rickshaw was ready a day early and the rickshaw maker wanted to deliver it as soon as possible. I asked why the urgency… they did not want it to get dirty. It was delivered to me fully assembled and driven by a professional rickshaw driver. Since then, it has only been driven by two people. I will mostly keep it in my future home, as a piece of installation art. Some people have suggested I take it out and give rides on it…
Yesterday, a friend recently sent me the link to World Market’s site advertising Bangladeshi rickshaws on demand for $3,000! But, theirs are not meant for actual use (it says so in the ad). Therefore it is better to buy one while in Bangladesh.
Normally, I try to post a new blog every sixth day, but because of yesterday’s rickshaw email, I decided to publish this now.
The answer to my previous post’s trivia game of “M’s Adventures moves to ______?” is: It is a country with a river famous for being the most _colorful_ in the world. Thanks to the random person on the Internet who decided to play along.
Visiting New Delhi for the first time, I was looking forward to what would be different from Dhaka. Fancier roads, oxen in the roads, monkeys on the toe… yes. But, I didn’t expect the rickshaws to be so different. In Delhi, an “auto-rickshaw” is what is called a “CNG” in Dhaka but in Dhaka the CNGs are caged. In Delhi, they are open like the tuktuks of Thailand. The “cycle rickshaw” of Delhi is called a “rickshaw” in Dhaka. The cycle rickshaws of Delhi less colorful and more solid looking than the ones in Dhaka.
I mostly enjoyed the oven temperature breezes from my ride in Azad’s Taxi Service…