Saturday, January 31, 2009

South India—Kerala & Tamil Nadu

Banana delivery bicycle
Hercules bikes are commonly converted to three-wheel cargo haulers for delivering produce.

Philippe Varichon has some great photos of south India (Kerala and Tamil Nadu), including cargo bikes, on


  • The produce-hauling/vending Made-in-India Hercules bikes—lots of those.
  • Note the TaTa trucks and buses. The trucks are mostly school-bus yellow with lots of yellow/green/pink/blue decoration, garlands draped and eyes painted on the front. There's a gadget under the dash that makes the horn warble when you blow it (which is quite often).
  • Those old-fashioned looking cars are Hindustan Ambassadors, usually painted white, a few black. When you rent one, the driver is included. They're generally operated with the side mirrors folded in, to keep them safe.
  • The van that looks like a VW-bus is an Indian "Matador".
  • Those "STD/ISD" signs are for telephones.
  • Some good pictures of "auto-rickshaws" (usually called simply "auto"), they're painted mostly black in Kerala, yellow in Tamil Nadu. They're made with the side mirrors INSIDE the cab, to keep them safe.
  • Some one-man fishing boats. They're well worn, rough hewn vessels. Over in Tamil Nadu they're mixed with brand new boats—Tsunami/Tidal wave relief donations. Those are painted bright colors and bear sponsor logos from international banks, making them look like NASCAR.
I think Kerala has the highest literacy in India. Also, most religious diversity and is especially peaceful. They also resist big-box stores, over development and capitalism—they have TWO competing communist parties, though neither is currently in power. They're making news for banning Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Probably not big pepsi drinkers anyway, though I imagine pepsico has designs on converting the heathens. Lot's of lush greenery, though much of it is in the form of tea plantations. Temperatures usually in the 70s and 80s (°F). Good place for a bike ride! Sridhar has plans to grill fresh fish there. Also known for massages, yoga and Ayurvedic medicine.

Note also the "Safe motherhood bicycle rally" from Goa to Kochi: Team Safe Motherhood
"The message we want to disseminate is simple:
Eyes are for seeing, ears for listening and haemoglobin is for intelligence."
(Article from The Hindu)

If you're inspired to go, Mr. Pumpy has tips and Tim Gilbert has his South India bike-trip travelogue online too.

No comments:

Post a Comment