Ayman Ramadan

Biking and the Kindness of Strangers

I am not a habitual bike rider, but as I said before, Amsterdam is the city of bikes, and we were all provided with one by Mediamatic. In addition to my daily walks, I decided to give bike riding a try, and liked it—until I got a flat tire.


Footsteps in Noord - Ayman Ramadan

My friend’s bike had a broken chain, so we decided to just swap the tires. I was determined to do the job myself and set to work in the kitchen of my apartment…only to realize I had no clue what I was doing, and my bike was even worse off than before. Now we had two ruined bikes on our hands, instead of just one.
The next morning I was walking around with my bike looking for a repair shop. Suddenly, a disheveled man with a shopping cart appeared, speaking in Dutch, and gestured for me to follow him. Curious and not sure of how to politely tell him no, I followed him back to his place, where his partner was waiting. Luckily, he spoke English, and told me to come back in two hours for the bike.
It was a curious situation, but I decided to take the chance and left. When I came back, sure enough, the bike was fixed! But suddenly the man’s neighbour burst into the room, shouting and taking pictures—apparently the nosy neighbour wanted to report the repair man to the police, since he was stinking up the building with the stuff he brought in off the street and making noise with his repair business.
I quietly took my bike and left the neighbours to their fight.