I never met Ghandi, but i met Ian. He must be a friend of his.
He is welsh. He is the Guy who is fixing the bikes, bringing them back on the road, he says. It is for everyone, he says. Good for me, I needed one.
Nothing extraordinary, just something simple, used and affordable. I liked this idea – not throwing away, his thoughts about things, about people and environment.
Ian was smiling. “Help yourself, the bikes are in the back. Let me know, when you need help.”.
He stood there, oily hands, fixing an old race bike. It must have seen better days, but there it was, still a bike, ready to be back on the road, spinning wheels, carrying another cycler, along the prom, the seaside and through the mountains of this welsh town.
This little town. Has seen better days, coal, copper, but now poor people, mid class people, rich people, greedy people, generous people, the university with all this students, teachers and artists, the Muslims, the Indians, Immigrants, the elderly people, a mixture of all, like many human settlements in this world.
I walked in the back, not knowing, what I would find.
In the front I heard people, a kettle humming. “Have a tea?” I heard Ian. “Wanna have a tea” louder now. He meant me, obviously. “Sure, thanks” was my reply. Tea for a stranger, how nice.
I went to the front with a bike, I wanted to buy. It was an old one, but aluminum. Somebody has painted it green. “Good choice, this beauty just found it’s way back. A donation, like every bike. If you want it, let me fix it for you. It must be safe, you understand?”. Ian took a good look at it and towards me. “What’s your name?”. “Mikel, I replied. “Nice to meet you. Here is your tea. Look, this is Petra, this is Stan. They are my Volunteers, working for a bike, without them I could do nothing. They are helping me.” he said.
I sat down for a chat and a cup of tea. It felt nice and right to be here. Would I have known, what happened through this? No, I was not prepared for it.
I had my tea and bought the bike – and came back. I offered my help, began to work in his little workshop in the back yard, sometimes, became one of his volunteers, a little part of his life. I learned about bikes, I learned about the people, working with him, listening to the music, African, European, Russian, Classic, a mix like them. Coming from all over the world, chatting, working, the kettle humming and all the bikes, ready to carry new people, affordable and reliable.
Friendly people, donating bikes with a smile, friendly people, taking them away.
Friendly Ian, never a bad word, patiently and politely, helping with his knowledge.
“If you want, you can work for a bike, this will help me.” Ian knew about poorness, knew about those mothers with little children, often alone, knew how hard it is to find work. To help them and give them their honor back. Working for a bike, head up, worthy. Working for a bike. Living the dream, sharing.
I never met Ghandi, but I met Ian.
He must be a friend of his and he is now a friend of mine.
A true hero.