From my apartment’s balcony, I watch people in the morning. Joggers jog by, walkers walk by, and the occasional car drives by. Nothing unfamiliar.
Sharp at 6:30 AM, the newspaper boy arrives at the building. I observe him riding his ‘newspaper wala cycle’.
When we think of cycling, names like Giant, Scott, and Trek come to mind; flashy cycles with multiple gears and gizmos. As the sport gains traction in India, more people buy these branded cycles.
But we forget a vast demographic to whom these cycles are inaccessible. They are too expensive. For the Indian masses, the ‘newspaper wala cycle’ remains the most affordable means of transport.
The ‘Atlas Goldline’ Super’ or ‘Hero Jet Gold’ model is found in all cities, coalescing unnoticed into the backdrop.
Atlas Cycles Ltd (more about them here) manufactures this run-of-the-mill bike. It has no gears, no streamlined seat, no carbon fibre frame; it is simple.
My father recounts memories from his youth, racing his friends on the Atlas cycle. It has played a key role in the childhood of many.
Its ubiquity has rendered the Atlas cycle generic. But in it, I see a deeper meaning.
This cycle symbolises the Indian way of life. It represents all the postmen, the watchmen, the ordinary folk who remain invisible, overlooked. In photographing this automation, I acknowledge these forgotten people.
Caught up in the world of Google and Instagram, have we forgotten there’s beauty in the ordinary?
More on the Atlas cycle here.
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