When Bicycle Dogs Fail

Owais Mughal

Eons ago I used to have a Sohrab bicycle. After a million revolutions of the wheel and few rotations of earth, it developed a certain mechanical fault. The fault was beyond my capabilities to repair so I took it to our street corner bicycle shop. The owner and chief mechanic of this shop was known as Badshah Khan. He was indeed the badshah (king) of this street corner. After I explained to him the problem, he asked me to ride the bike infront of him and give him a demonstation of what was wrong. So I did. Watching me helplessly trying to ride the bike and failing miserably, Badshah Khan moved his head up and down as if he understood every thing, then he let out a cold sigh (sard aah!) and said:

woooaay, is ke kuttay fail ho gaye haiN (bow-wow, its dogs have failed)

(Note: The word “woooaay” as written above has no meaning. In Urdu (and Pushto) it is called ‘muhmil’ word and it is used to put stress on the meaningful sentence that follows next)

“Whaat?” I asked in disbelief. “What do you mean by ‘kuttay fail ho gaye haiN’?” There are no dogs around here. And what did they fail in? Their exams?

ye jo tum cycle pe khaali khaali taang chalata hai…ye kuttay fail hota hai Badshah Khan answered.

I think I understood then. The ball bearing which connects bicycle pedals to the main gear had got some ‘play’ in it. It is mostly caused by the misalignment or overloading. Therefore I kept pedalling but the cycle never moved as the force never got transferred to the wheels. This mechanical failure, where a bicycle’s ball bearings fail is commonly known in Pakistan as ‘kuttay fail hona’.

Once I came over my amusement, laughter and disbelief, I noticed that it is a very common terminology in Pakistan where almost all bicycle riders know what is meant by ‘cycle ke kuttay fail ho na’.

Badshah Khan told me that it was not possible to repair or adjust ‘kuttay’ (ball bearings) in his workshop as it will require advanced machinery, therefore he replaced the whole bearing for Rupees 10. ‘aakhir marta kia na karta’ (what other choice did I have?), I said ok and got my bicycle repaired.

After that day, whenever I see a biker running pedals fevereshly but without being able to move, it makes me smile – becaue it does look very funny – but more than that I exaclty know what is mechanically wrong with the bike. “os Cycle ke kuttay fail ho chukay hotay haiN” (That cycle’s dog have failed).

I wonder what was the background/ history of this terminology in Pakistan. I have thought and thought again but to not avail. I can not relate a ball bearing’s failure to a dog’s failure by any stretch of imagination. Can you?

Do you also know of any other funny terminologies that are commonly used in Pakistan’s Auto/Machine industry?

Photo Credits: Title photo is from wikipedia.com

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