Dear reader, if you know me, you would already know the answer but this is an opportunity to learn the story behind everything (Okay maybe not everything).
Dark was the night, light fog is passing by and the smell of the tired asphalt is the night perfume in the streets of Tunis with the hypnotizing yellow lights. As I ride my way through the waves of sun-melted asphalt, I increase the volume of my favorite song to slowly take over the voice of the heavy humid air and I start seeing all traffic lights in green… is it heaven or I am caught in a dream, as usual ?
It was no dream, it was reality, a naturally enhanced reality. I think moments of small freedom like these are what keeps humans alive and positive.
My life in Tunis literally runs on a machine, a very simple and primitive machine, I am not an athlete, I am not a mechanic… but I am a huge fan of bicycles.
A day in my life in Tunis would be riding the bike to work, working with the bike, moving with the bike and just getting things done.
As student, it took me at least 2 hours to go from my house to university because of the congested traffic and the ‘’underdeveloped’’ public transportation system (underdeveloped doesn’t mean only that we need more buses and metros but we need better management and better urban planning). That being said, by bike, it would take me only 60 minutes or less (if the air blows in my back) to go to school. You don’t believe it ? here is a video for you : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6DIrWEEJBw (and yes, this small video won a local video making prize !).
After uni, a typical morning in my life would be as this schedule:
2-ride to work and around the city (part of work as well)
4-office hours at EL SPACE
5-bike tour on the way home
And for that, there is a video as well !
Every component for ‘’riding a bike in city’’ is there, the asphalt waves, the cars, the traffic, the music…. Everything !
The first week was about getting to know new people and start city routines like exploring the coolest bars and hiring a favorite one (I will tell you what it is in the next blog article), bookmark the delicious and affordable places (the list on the next blog as well) and getting back in touch with old friends who live in the DC area. But when the dust started to settle down, I went with my dear friend to Virginia and bought the bike, I got a free helmet with it ! the lock and the back lights were a donation from my friend ! How cool is that !
Here are the five facts about my bike:
1- Name: Mongia (the G is a J, pronounced like the J in ‘’Janet’’)-(pronounced with a tress on the ”i”)
2- Place of origin: Bike from Japan
3- Serving as: Personal transportation support unit for Mr. Nino
4- Social issue : Bike empowerment through human use
5- Fun Fact: All of my previous names started with the letters M, O and N ! (Monnay, Mondee, and now Mongia ! … what;s wrong with you HUMANS !)
So Mongia was rescued by Phoenix Bikes in Virginia under the great care of Paul, the coolest retiree I have met in my life !
Now, I bike to my host organization, but this time I am not in the bike-dry streets of Tunis, I am now facing the bike traffic jam, sometimes, and it would take me a maximum of 15 minutes (from Mt Pleasant to 15th and L) instead of 20 or 25 minutes by bus (maybe I will do that when cold winter hits up) . And having the bike messenger virus, I am passing through cars and buses like water crossing a dry valley ! I even was called ‘’ALLEY CAT’’ once, I am proud of that ! (fast and effective bike messengers are called ‘’alley cats’’ because they are like cats in alleys, they can slide everywhere and anywhere with their flexible bodies and they have one thing in mind : reach the destination with less sweat, and no damages to any component of the scenery).
I have to admit that going to work is easier but going back home is challenging with the crazy up hill of the meridian park ! First day was like ‘’ OMG I can’t do this’’ and I’d step off and walk my way up saying ‘’you weak stupid coward ! you can’t even bike up hill with your fancy tall legs !’’ , the next days were more like ‘’C’mon ! you can do this ! C’mon Mongia !’’ and I would lean to the handlebars and whisper those words as if Mongia was a horse…. Or maybe she is a horse, a steel beautiful black horse with red hair !
To know me is to go ride with me, my life is all about mobility and action, without these I can’t feel alive. That was my story with bikes, what’s yours ?
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org