May 12, 2013 by anelim
After being so brutally debiked yesterday, I was already conceptualising the loss in terms of Sen’s Capability Approach. I had lost the means to convert a latent capability (to move) into a real functioning (biking around). The bike had provided me with a valuable capability (healthy, independent and cheap outdoor long-distance movement). Being debiked was all the more painful because it was a loss of an entitlement which I now had taken for granted. It felt worse than it had felt not yet having a bike in September. Or something like that. These theoretical deliberations didn’t assuage my feelings of loss, and neither did the nice new trainers that I bought (pretend-logical retail therapy: I convinced myself that I needed to walk around in comfy shoes now that I didn’t have a horse any more…and the shop had them in my favourite colours).
…today something I least expected happened: I’ve been rebiked. Would you believe it? The prodigal bike is BACK.
At 10am this sunny morning, as I was heading into town to vote in the Bulgarian parliamentary elections, the fugitive was standing in the vestibule of my building. Intact. Not even the bell was gone. Even the scruffy piece of blue string and the red and white Martenitsa were still tied to it. The tyres well-pumped (I pumped them last week). The front tyre still locked to the frame. Long story short, it was just as I had left it, only in another spot (where it most certainly was not yesterday), in front of my neighbour’s bad-ass motorbike.
I was so shocked that I immediately grabbed it and went to vote by bike instead of by U-Bahn, as planned. Luckily I wasn’t wearing a dress or anything unbikerlike, though I did have my laptop on my back because I had intended a civilised caffeine-powered writing session in one of the cafes in Mitte. Man, how I pressed those pedals along the empty Sunday streets, like there’s no tomorrow.
I tied the bike to the white-washed mast flying the Bulgarian flag in front of the Embassy (the EU flag mast was already occupied by another voter’s bike). I read the especially pertinently titled “Questions of
bike travel: postmodern discourses of vehicle displacement” in the queue among other expats, waiting to cast my vote and return to the bike. Then I met an (Indian!) colleague in the queue who was hanging out with his Bulgarian friends who had come to vote, so I queued again for another half an hour chatting to my new unexpected acquaintances in a mix of Bulgarian and English. I then spend the saved U-Bahn money on lunch.
Bike thieves/prankster borrowers, may your tyres only sometimes be flat. I’m not leaving this bike anywhere unsupervised any more in the next two months, even if I have to share my bed with it.