The Loads We Carry on Bicycles!

Posted on October 12, 2009
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Photo of the Day, Society
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Owais Mughal

This post is a collection of photos showing diverse use of bicycles in Pakistan. In many of these photos you will see how laws of physics on simple machines and center of gravity are tested to their limits. The post also shows how bicycle is an important means of mobility and support for many Pakistanis.

The photo above defies our post title as balloons are not necessarily the heavy loads we carry but since ‘air has weight and occupies space’ we are techincally correct with our title. This photo was taken in Rawalpindi on February 9, 2009

Tire Recycling on a Bicycle:

All of the photos in this group are from Rawalpindi and taken at different times in 2009.

In the following photo to the right, note the geometrical symmetry with which the bicycle owner has arranged the tires on his bike.

The Egg Supply Business on a Bicycle:

Common wisdom will not allow a thing as soft as an egg to be transported on a bicycle on bumpy streets of Pakistan but this is one art that Pakistanis have perfected. Note this cycle has especially built iron carriers to place the egg crates. This photo is from Karachi and taken on July 03, 2009 . As once before I want to quote this ‘sher’ of Mir Anees which goes like this:

khayaal-e-Khatir-e-ahbab chahiye har dam
Anees Thes na lag jai aab-ginoN ko

Also see here for one of ATP’s early post on a similar topic.

manji kithay dhawaN:

A person is seen here riding down the famous Islamabad Highway and carrying a traditional bed called ‘char-pai’ (4 legged one) on his bicycle. This photo was taken on August 30, 2009. As soon as I saw this photo it reminded me of this famous Lollywood song of 1974 which has wordings of ‘mein kehRe paase jawaaN, meiN manji kithay dhawaN’ (Where should I go and where should i put my charpai). It never harms to take a short detour from a post so here is this song in the vocals of famous Ahmad Rushdie. The movie name is also manji kithay dhawan.

Home Cleaning Tools on a Bicylce

Note how many home cleaning tools this guy is carrying on the bicycle. I can see vipers, brushes, toilet bowl cleaners etc. The photo is from Rawalpindi and was taken on February 26, 2009 . Once again note how weight has been balanced by hanging tools on both sides of bicycles as well as how brush heads on one side are balanced by viper heads on the other.

This vendor is carrying different colorful household items to the city and looking for buyers. These plates are used to serve ‘roti’ (flat bread). Also visible are few hand drawn fans and boxes to keep roti (flat bread) warm. Photo is from February 9, 2009 and taken by Abid Zia in Rawalpindi.

Flower Business on a Bicycle:

This photo is self explanatory. I do however want to bring to attention the abundance of color in this photo. Note the wooden frame this guy has created to hold flowers. It is visible on top of front wheel. Also note how the vendor has carved a window for himself so that he is able to see infront. The notice on the cycle reads:

Sale Sale. Flowers and Vases from China, with variety are available at cheaper than market rates here. Special offer for the month of Ramzan. One Price – No Bargain

Cement Bag Recycling on a Bicycle

The photos below are from Hayderabad (L) and Multan (R). They show empty cement bags getting collected for recycle. Since Hyderabad and Multan are 600km apart, the photos also show the use of bicycles in this industry is common across the cities of Pakistan. Photo credits belong to Farhan Khan and Hassan Mahmood.

Oil Can Recycling on a Bicycle:

It is amazing to see how recycling industry of different products is thriving on bicycles. We saw several photos of old tire collection and cement bag collection above. This particular photo to the left seems to be an oil bottle/container collection for recycling. The photo was taken in Islamabad on September 9, 2009 by Abid Zia.

Yellow Date Selling on a Bicycle:

The photo below shows a ‘khajji’ (yellow dates) vendor running his business from a bicyle in Multan. The photo is from July 15, 2009 by Hassan Mahmood.

Recycling ‘Ghee’ Canisters on Bicycles:

Tree Trimming on a Bicylce:

This photo is from June 23, 2009. A guy is walking an Islamabad road with tree branches loaded on his bicycle.

Delivering Wholesale Candies and Snacks:

These two photos show bicycles being used to deliver different snacks across the cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

Balancing the Bicycle:

Will this gypsy boy be able to balance such voluminous load on his tiny bicycle is anybody’s guess. The photo is from May 04, 2009 in Rawalpindi.

Sometimes things do not go as planned. In the following photo this guy tried to cross the green belt with heavy load of recyclable goods and ended up losing its balance. Photo is from July 14, 2009 in Islamabad. Photographer is Abid Zia.

Raising Flags on a Bicycle:

Whether you want to show your patriotism or any other cause, cycles in Pakistan come handy.

Photo Credits: Abid Zia, Irshad sheikh, Farhan Khan and Jehangir Khan at APP

ATP’s Other Posts on ‘Bicycle’:

1) When bicycle dogs fail in Pakistan
2) Sohrab bicycle and Manufacturing in Pakistan

20 Comments on “The Loads We Carry on Bicycles!”

  1. Haroon says:
    October 12th, 2009 11:35 pm

    Great collection of pictures.

    Pakistan’s national mode to transport = saikal!!

  2. Ahmed Shah says:
    October 12th, 2009 11:51 pm

    Great collection of pictures and excellent story Owais. How about one in which “cycles” are used as mobile workshops next time. The mobile (bicycle riding) knife sharpener guy comes to mind! چھریاں تیز کروالو

  3. fatima says:
    October 13th, 2009 12:16 am

    nice pics and this shows that necessity is the mother of invention…

  4. Owais Mughal says:
    October 13th, 2009 12:35 am

    Ahmed bhai, good recollection on knife sharpening machine that came on bicycle. I’ll look for that photo. Another common site, ofcourse are the milk vendors on bicycle. The bicycle carriers come built-in with special ‘HOOKS’ for doodh-wala canisters.

  5. ASAD says:
    October 13th, 2009 1:20 am

    What is interesting about this collection is how many Pakistanis would not be able to earn their livelihoods if they did not have a bicycle!

  6. Babar Khan says:
    October 13th, 2009 5:41 am

    Bale, Bale :)

  7. muniza says:
    October 13th, 2009 6:16 am

    Zabardast, it needs a lots of courage to carry your burden of life. I hope i can do it.

  8. Nabeel says:
    October 13th, 2009 7:01 am

    Who needs a truck… :-)

  9. October 13th, 2009 7:25 am

    Hi,
    I was looking for some other content but found it and it was my pleasure reading this post. You have great collection of photos and excellent story.

  10. mazHur says:
    October 13th, 2009 8:18 am

    Beautiful post
    Congrats!

  11. Adam Insaan says:
    October 13th, 2009 8:45 am

    Indeed it`s fabulous to be rather glad every day -in and out,
    it might be raining cats and dogs or sunshine cutting like blades through the pores of skin
    -having only the bicyclette as a accomodation for facilitating the purpose of transport and livelihood !

    These people each and every deserves my outermost appreciation and Salam for being Pakistanii`s
    -and for showing that life is not just driving around escorted in Mitsubishi Pajero, Porche Cayenne or whatever alike it be…….
    These are amongst the Pakistanii s that make me proud of the true Pakistaniat !

  12. October 13th, 2009 8:46 am

    Great post!

  13. Aziz says:
    October 13th, 2009 12:03 pm

    Great post. Apart from knife sharpening guy and the milk man that some readers mentined, another art of the bicycle rider I witnessed during my teen years in Pakistan was the newspaper boy. Although he would not carry a heavy load like these people did, he would be able to throw a newspaper rolled up and tied with a rubber band 5 – 6 stories high without even stopping. His aim was always accrate and the newspaper always landed in the balcony of the desired apartment. The protection grills that some people installed in their apartment balcony did not bother them at all and their throw was always accurate.

  14. Rehan says:
    October 13th, 2009 12:12 pm

    BEAUTIFUL post…

  15. Owais Mughal says:
    October 13th, 2009 12:19 pm

    Adam Insaan, good observation on newspaper men on bicycle. Yes their aim is usually impeccable and newspaper always lands in the right place :)

  16. AllahWasaya says:
    October 13th, 2009 1:28 pm

    Great post as always. Babaji in the first pic is looking so sharp in those aviators! I wish Rayban sees this pic and makes him their spokeman!! :)

    The song manji kithay davaaN is a classic, thanks for sharing!

  17. Owais Mughal says:
    October 13th, 2009 1:54 pm

    allah wasaya, when i was writing this post, i also commented on babaji’s Ray Ban in the first photo. I don’t know why i later edited it but i agree it makes him look ‘stylish’

  18. AwarahGard says:
    October 13th, 2009 11:53 pm

    Ghubbarey/Ballons or Dastaney/Gloves..highly inflated

  19. Owais Mughal says:
    October 14th, 2009 12:30 am

    @Awarahgard. you are right. in the first photo it indeed looks like the inflated gloves and not balloons.

  20. Nadeem says:
    October 14th, 2009 3:36 pm

    Although this article is about cycle and it’s strange and unbelievable kind of uses but don’t know why it reminds me a poem, ‘intesab’ by Faiz where he admires, salutes and as it celebrates the resilience and courage of Pakistani proletariat.

    I find it’s translation, for your visual treat…

    Dedicated to these times, and the sorrow of these times.
    The pain of today, that is set against the plentiful garden of life.
    The forest of dead leaves, that is my land.
    The collection of pain that is my land.

    Dedicated to the gloomy lives of clerks
    Moth eaten hearts and words.
    Dedicated to the postmen
    Dedicated to the coachmen
    Dedicated to the railway workers
    Dedicated to the innocent beings in the factories.

    O Emperor of the World, Master and God’s representative on this Earth,
    this is dedicated to the farmer
    whose herds were run off by the wicked men
    and whose daughter was carried off by the dacoits.
    One finger of whose handful of land was cut by the bureaucrats
    and another finger by the government, in the name of taxation.
    Whose pride is destroyed under the feet of the men with power.

    Dedicated to the sad mothers
    whose children sob at night.
    Sleepless, who are not steadied by an embrace.
    Don’t share what ails them,
    and are not consoled by entreaties or tears.

    Dedicated to the beautiful girls,
    the beauty of whose eyes
    on every balcony, behind every curtain,
    blossomed in vain and withered away.

    Dedicated to those wives
    whose bodies have grown tired of trying to look beautiful on loveless beds
    …-dedicated to the widows.

    Dedicated to the lanes in the slums and colonies
    Whose scattered garbage and refuse the moon often contemplates and sanctifies
    In the night.
    From amongst whose shadows emanates
    The hennaed hair under the veils
    The clink of bangles
    The scent of loosened tresses.
    The stench of impassioned bodies burning in their own sweat.

    Dedicated to the students
    Those who arrived at the gates of the officials
    Petitioning with open arms for pen and paper.
    But never came back.
    Those innocents who, in their idealism,
    took the fire of dedicated learning in their young hearts
    and reached where
    Were being promiscuously distributed the shadows of endless nights.

    Dedicated to those prisoners
    in whose hearts the future shone like a pearl
    But was burnt in the troubled nights of the prison
    and diminished into a tiny flicker.

    Dedicated to the heralders of the days to come
    Those, who, like the scent of a rose, are
    Enraptured by their own message.

Have Your Say (Bol, magar piyar say)