|Market at Kanyakumari - the southern tip of India|
A recent Twitter photo of a bike rider in India brought back memories. It’s almost four years since my visit to south India and, at the time, I was not the fanatical bike rider that I am today. Even so, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the things I saw people carrying on their bikes and notice how normative bike riding was.
|Outside a temple in Kanyakumari|
It was the first place I saw people with disabilities using hand-cranked bikes – not sleek high-tech versions – but sturdy vehicles cranked with contraptions that looked like old-fashioned eggbeaters.
|Courtyard in Chennai|
My India blog maintained lists of the things I saw people carrying on their heads and things transported by bicycle, some of which I share here, along with photos of bikes I saw in India.
|"Jew Town" in Cochin - at the time there were eight Jews remaining.|
Things I saw transported on a bicycle:
|On the road near Trivandrum|
|Porur - suburb of Chennai|
- stack of straw mats
- pile of burlap
- many (at least 6-8) large cans of cooking oil
- 2 HUGE rice sacks
- 2 big milk cans
- inner tubes
- fuel cans
- aluminum pots
- sugar cane
- other fruits and vegetables
- fresh coconuts (which grow everywhere)
|Toy store bike - my Porur neighborhood for 2 weeks|
Businesses I saw conducted from a bicycle:
· ice cream vendor
· tea (the large urn and cups for the tea)
· toy/mask store
|Selling chai on the beach at Kanyakumari, where people gather to watch the sunset|
The courtyard in front of every school was filled with bikes – sturdy workhorses able to withstand rutted, dusty roads.
|Porur public school|
|My neighborhood in Porur|
And if we think bike riding in traffic is bad in the U.S. – you can’t imagine the chaos of roads in India, in which the concept of “lanes” is nonexistent. Buses, trucks, autorickshaws, motorbikes, cars, and bicycles fill every inch of space – amid sweltering heat and pollution – making way for cows that meander along with priority rights.
|No bike here - but a sense of the traffic|
|Porur - try riding in a long dhoti!|
I don’t think I’d be up for riding a bike in urban India, but I’d certainly return for the sweet chai, spicy food, vibrant colors, and – most of all – the people.
|Chennai - goat and bike coexist|