Donna and Joe have finished their assignment in India. Occasionally they still travel somewhere.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Bicycle commuting in Bangalore

As part of my plan to live to be 100 years old (or die trying) I am getting some exercise in Bangalore by riding my bicycle to work.

I thought it might be interesting to make a movie showing a bicycle rider's view of Bangalore. So I strapped my digital camera to my helmet and rode to work, recording the view as I went. I actually did this two days in a row. After the first day of shooting I learned that the camera automatically shuts itself off after 10 minutes. Of that 10 minutes of film, most of the time the camera was pointed too low to show most of what was happening on the road. Only "The cow always has the right of way" segment was from the first day's recording.

It takes me about 40 minutes to pedal to work but this video is only about 4-1/2 minutes long. Hopefully the parts I kept are somewhat interesting, as well as being typical of what I see everyday.

At the start of the movie I am walking my bike out of the gate of our apartment complex. I then look both ways before climbing on and riding down the street. Throughout the movie when you see the scene swing widely from side to side I am swinging my head as I look around. I also wear a small mirror that fits on my glasses, so I generally know when something comes up behind me.

A few notes on the movie:

1. Right after the title "Chinnappa Rd" notice the girls in uniform. The two pairs must attend different schools because they have different uniforms. Most school kids wear uniforms to school here. Many of the boys wear ties--something you rarely see an adult male wearing. Notice the homes along this street, which is only a few minutes ride from my apartment.

2. The women doing laundry on the side walk are actually rubbing the clothes on the side walk to scrub off the dirt. After the laundry, notice the woman carrying a plastic water jug. Most of these homes in this neighborhood don't have running water so people carry water in these jugs from the public tap to their homes.

3. In "Turning Across a Traffic" notice the motorcycle turn and drive on the right hand side of the road until they can cross to the left, rather than waiting for a break in the traffic. At that corner there is a Hindu temple and your can hear their music in the background as I'm waiting to turn right.

4. After "A Tight Corner" notice the smoke from the tailpipe of the auto-rickshaw. Originally all of these were powered by 2 cycle gas engine and were very polluting. Now most have been converted to run natural gas, and run much cleaner. Also note the kids on the school bus who wave to me.

5. The street sweeper is inside the business park where my office is located. You will also see people sweeping public streets in the same way, with the same kind of broom. The movie ends at the entrance to the parking garage where I park my bike. These two guards are there to make sure everyone opens the gate by using their ID badge--no tailgating.


Karen said...

Joe, that is one of the coolest posts ever! To actually hear what you hear and see what you see is an amazing peak into your life in India. And it was MUCH cheaper than flying there to see if for myself. I am really glad that you know what you are doing while riding and dont get squashed by one of those other vehicles! Keep up the great and interesting posts!! Love Karen

Anonymous said...

I agree with Karen, it's wonderful to actually hear all the activity, not just see a still photo of what you're involved in. Altho the still photos are terrific. What fun we're having accompanying you bit by bit.
Are you tempted at all to stop and investigate what you're passing .. instead of heading on to work?
thanks so much for taking the time to share these adventures with all of us.

Jim Baross said...

Thanks for this bit of what bicycling and traffic is like there.

Donna said...

Some people are impressed that Joe rides a bike to work. Some think he's downright crazy. Others think he is recklessly risking valuable I.B.M. property--himself!

Steve Lovejoy said...

You must have been flying through those streets. I either hear wind from your speedy ride or cars.