2006.03.11 Urumqi

Sharpening Knives
Sharpening Knives

While walking to the bookstore Thursday afternoon I saw a man sitting on a bicycle. Cyclists are rare enough in Urumqi, but this one didn't have to worry about traffic: despite that he was vigorously pumping the pedals around, the cycle wasn't moving.

At first I presumed he might be in the process of repairing the bicycle, or perhaps he had modified it for use as an exercise bike. As I drew nearer, I realized that what he was doing was far more clever--he had converted the cycle into a whetstone.

Rather than connecting from the gear to the axle, the chain was connected to a pair of stone wheels. These were being spun against a large knife, held just above the man's lap.

Perhaps this wasn't a unique invention, but I found it novel.