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Cycle Repair Wallers

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Every busy street, outside office blocks, by the side of markets, anywhere there are cycle-rickshaws, cycle-carts or just workers going to or coming home from work there are roadside cycle repair wallers. Plying their trade from early in the morning to late at night, rescuing unfortunate cyclists from the all to often hazard of punctures, broken wheels, snapped chains and the rest, the roads of Delhi being strew with deep potholes, debris and rubbish. They never seem to be idle and will even walk up the road, carrying their equipment of ancient stirrup pumps, old inner tubes for cutting patches and relics of tools to a stricken machine. For less than 100Rs or about a pound they will fix almost any problem with a cycle, keeping them on the road for as long as the frame holds out and even then a friend along the road will weld the the pieces back together so the life of many push-bikes and cycle-carts go on for years indeed a fifty year old or more cycle is not uncommon and new bikes seem to be rare. Many repair wallers will also fix punctures on auto-rickshaws, mopeds, motorcycles and cars, all by hand and often with the help of a young son learning the trade alongside their fathers. Some have lockers with many spares in and intricate, home-made tools while others just a bent piece of metal as a tyre lever, a pot of glue, a stirrup pump and a bowl of water, all providing an invaluable service to keep the wheels of commerce greased and inflated. Their pitches are often passed down through the family for generation after generation, amassing old spares and recycled parts, favoured tools gifted to the younger wallers, fast skills and tricks of the trade handed down to their apprentices. They do a valuable service for every community and no matter if the stranded cyclist has no money, just drop it in the next day as they pass. Often char wallers will set up shop next door to provide the waiting customers with tea, people in India never seem to miss an opportunity for a bit of trade, spotting a gap in the market and a chance to make a small living, even when a new road is built it’s not long before a repair waller will pitch-up and begin a brisk trade.

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