In India, cycling isn’t a pastime; it’s a necessity. On the streets of Mumbai, you’ll see hawkers and farmers alike, pedaling modified transport bikes (think pallets, rope, and training wheels)—going to and from the bazaar and customers’ homes. On a recent trip to India, I witnessed a new level of ingenuity: the knife sharpener. And no, I don’t mean a foot-long whetstone.
These guys make a living riding their cleverly converted bicycles around town, blowing a whistle to signal that they’re open for business. Such knife sharpening bicycles are the epitome of Indian resourcefulness. Although they’re relatively common, each of these bikes is modified by hand using scavenged auto parts and old bikes. They’re rarely painted. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find one that isn’t rusty. But it works. And that’s what’s important.