7.30am — I hear the sound of a bell, in the passage outside our apartment. A familiar sound every morning at sharp 7.30. I can set my clock with that sound. In fact, whenever I hear that sound, it’s my cue to hurry up with the husband’s breakfast and snack-box preparations.
What am I talking about? The doorbell? An alarm-clock? Nope — it’s the sound of our neighbour’s e-bike as he starts it up in preparation to riding it down the lift on his way to work every morning. In fact, he’s the answer to my observation of a few years back when parking was a huge issue on the streets of Abu Dhabi.
There would be double parking in the middle of the streets and some people even parked their huge 4-WDs up on the footpath. Looking at these huge monsters, I had remarked to the husband that soon people would take their vehicles right into the building.
And guess what? Today, my neighbour and many like him do take their bikes home with them. They ride it up the ramp and up the lift and into their home.
I met one such guy in the lift one day. I could hear him before I actually saw him. When the lift door pinged open, a song at top volume preceded the guy sitting royally on his e-bike. No, he wasn’t singing, the song was issuing forth from the mobile strapped to the handle of his bike.
Songs on the playlist
It was in an unfamiliar language. I debated whether I should ask him to switch it off or lower the volume, or better still, join the party with a Bollywood number myself! I did none of the above. Instead, I asked him if he had any English songs on his playlist.
“Sorry?” he asked above the din. I repeated my words and he grinned, “No, sister.” He said regretfully, before the lift doors opened at G.
It’s obvious that it’s the age and rage of e-bikes today, in Abu Dhabi. Inside building lobbies, on the pavements, on roads, at traffic signals — different shapes and sizes, different makes with the riders either sitting or standing tall and erect — all of them zipping up and down, left and right.
They’re all over the place. Some of them don’t stick to the designated biker’s lane. One whizzed past me with a rush of wind like a low-flying aircraft the other day, almost scraping my elbow off and I yelped with fright. “He shouldn’t be doing that!” I exclaimed.
My husband nodded sympathetically before jumping nimbly aside, as another e-biker came flying at us suddenly, out of nowhere.
I wonder then, if we alert adults can be taken unawares by these flying meteors, it must be a nightmare for aged people who are not so quick on their feet or parents with toddlers and young children. Is it time to install traffic signals on footpaths too?
I did come across a newspaper article recently that said new rules have come up regulating the use of e-bikes on roads and elsewhere. Let us hope that owners of the bikes follow them.
Meanwhile I came across the 7.30am guy, later in the evening, as we waited for the lift in our lobby. He hailed me cheerfully saying, “Sister, I downloaded for you!” He proceeded to tap on his mobile and soon strains of Ed Sheeran’s ‘You look perfect tonight …’ filled the air.
I gave the guy a thumbs up. I love that song! It’s — perfect!
Radhika Acharya is a freelancer and author of two books Adventures of JP family and Girl from Goa