We figured out we needed a more fly way to get around here than by foot, and since you need a license to drive a scooter we chose to get bicycles. Proper, cool bicycles. One well-known manufacturer in India is Firefox, and after having a look through their site we decided to check out the merchandise at the closest shop.
We are located by the stars at map marker 1 (the apartment being to the West, office to the East, by Baner Road). The closest shop was in “Sai Chowk Pimpri”, and running that search in google maps had it pinpointed at marker 2, just on the other side of the bio-diversity park. After work we got an auto rickshaw, there is no route across the park so we had to go around, on the East side. Once there we started looking for the shop, but to no avail. Sajjad called them several times but that didn’t help.
After some further investigation it dawned on us that google maps had failed us, and that the location in question is probably in another city, Pimpri Chinchwad (3), a good few kilometers north from our location. A call to the shop confirmed this. Clock was about 19:30 at this point, the shop was closing at 21:00 so we figured there was still time. A short walk later we manage to wave down a auto rickshaw, the driver knew the destination and would be happy to take us there for 300 Rs. A tad pricey we thought, but what the hell, we need to get out of Pashan anyway.
Again there was no direct route, which according to the map would be going along the highway. That was not an option, which I feel is better for all of us. But this meant that we took the long way, through Aundh (4). The ride took a good 40 minutes and we checked the map every now and then just to make sure we were still in Pune.
When we got to Pimpri the streets grew narrower and the lighting changed. The area is nice, has a cozy feel to it. Many small streets and festive lights decorating the shops. As we came to a halt outside the shop the meter showed something in the vicinity of 15 km.
The Firefox store is managed by Singh, a turban clad older gentleman. An assertive salesperson, who after exchanging pleasantries swiftly guided us over to the all-terrain bike section. We had a look around and quite fast I laid my eyes upon a Target – a beauty in matte black, featuring disc breaks, front wheel suspension and Shimano gears. Very light weight. Thick wheels.
While I thought about my decision Sajjad also had a look around, but he didn’t find anything suitable.
I decided to buy the Target, but no way in hell was I going to pedal 15 km through unfamiliar territory back to Baner now, at 21:30. Singh offered to deliver the bike to the towers for a more than reasonable fee of 250 Rs. Delivery would be during the same day, after closing the shop. Hey nice, let’s do that, I said!
But wait. Occasionally I am blessed with the ability to come up with smart ideas, and this was one of those moments: if there was a car going to our apartments in a short while… could we… maybe… get a ride?
Yes! Yes we could! An hour later they loaded the bike into a station wagon and we got a ride with Singh. During the drive we chatted about Pune and how it has changed during the years. Turns out Singh has been in the business for over 50 years, second generation; his father had started the business by renting bikes. Now the city is becoming crowded, lots of construction and expansion going on.
Not too much later we arrived at the towers and unloaded the bike. I thanked Singh for his excellent service and bid him farewell.
Now my abilities to explore the surroundings has increased substantially. We just need to get Sajjad a bike too, then we can form a bike gang.