Bicycles in London

London has a successful cycle hire scheme known as “Boris Bikes”, and has hosted some big cycling events this year – the Tour de France and the Prudential RideLondon.  But what is it like for the ordinary cyclist?

Some people are still riding old-fashioned bikes with wicker baskets.

NW3 Belsize Park Gardens

Some take it more seriously. (I’ve no idea if he is a Brazilian international cyclist or a tourist.)

Brazil cyclist

Other people offer taxi services.  (Of course this cab company does in fact have cars…but no proofreader.)

NW1 Lisson Street

These “Bikeaway” cycle lockers are a great idea if you are worried about bicycle thieves.

cycle lockers

I used to cycle to work in London, first from Islington to the City, and then from Kentish Town to Whitehall.  It could be scary sometimes, but it wasn’t until I moved to India that I actually sought divine protection for my bike.

Dussehra - bike blessing

Cycling in London isn’t  really THAT dangerous, but there are some hazards….so do take care!

cyclists stand back

How many Coconuts can you Carry on A Bicycle?

The one bike accessory that is essential in Bangalore is a string of tender coconuts.  The sickle on the handlebar is an optional extra.

coconuts on bike

coconut bike sickle

One little detail caught my eye about the next bike – it is propped up on a stand. My own bike leans to the side when its stand is in use, but this one is sitting upright.  Am I naive in only knowing one kind of bike stand until now?


bike stand close up

I guess it takes a strong upright stand to hold a bike steady when it is loaded with plastic containers.

bike water bottlesIf you do overload your bike, you can get it repaired at one of these places – Roadside Bicycle Repairs. But note the perceptive comment at the end of that post from B Gourley about the speed at which bicycles are being replaced by motorbikes on the streets of Bangalore.

Dussehra – At Home

Our driver, Dayalan, celebrated the Hindu festival of Dussehra this week by performing a ritual for the vehicles and tools in our household, i.e. our car, my bicycle, the driver’s own motorcycle, and – for the first time – my camera.

Here are two photos of Dayalan performing the ritual. In the first he is holding a pumpkin. At the end of the ceremony he threw the pumpkin to the ground to break it in half, and then placed the two halves at the entrance to our driveway.

puja with pumpkin

In the second photo he is holding a coconut, which smashed beautifully at the end, more easily than the pumpkin. Can you see the banana leaves on the front of the car?  This year we used leaves from our own garden, instead of buying them.

puja with coconut

We have a beautiful garland of roses on the car now.

rose garland

Performing the ritual on Friday afternoon at 4.30pm served two purposes – it was an auspicious time, and it was late in the week, so the prices of flowers had dropped by 40 per cent.

flowers on front of car
We placed lemons under the wheels of the vehicles.  The final part of the ritual was driving over the lemons to smash them.  Almost impossible with my bicycle; tricky with the Suzuki motorbike; but dead easy with the big Toyota Fortuner.  Now we are ready for anything on the roads of Bangalore.

Related posts from 2012 and 2013:
2012 Dussehra – part 1 – the car

2012 Dussehra – part 2 my bike

2012 Dussehra – part 3 the offerings

2013 Dussehra – the Prequel

2013 Dussehra – On the Streets

Roadside Bicycle Repairs

Who needs an actual shop to run a cycle repair business? After all, your customers are on the road. Just string up a few tyres, and wait for the victims of Bangalore’s badly-surfaced roads to ride by.

Is it my imagination, or have the roads got even worse over the past two months while I was away? Any pothole that had been poorly repaired earlier in the year has been attacked and enlarged by the monsoon rains. In other places it looks like the surface of the road has been peeled off. Getting across the city is harder than ever.

Cycle repair shop

By the way, today is a holiday in India – Gandhi Jayanthi – to celebrate the birthday of Mohandas K Gandhi (2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948).

Rice, Coconuts, Peanuts and Ragi

When the fields in the photo at the top of the Distant Drumlin blog are not covered in snow, they are used for grazing cattle, and for growing potatoes, turnips and barley.

Things are different here in South India.  In the countryside to the south-east of Bangalore, farmers grow rice….

Cow in rice field

(here is a closer view)

Rice paddy

….and finger millet or Ragi…..


…which is often intercropped with peanut….

Ragi and peanut

…and all of these are interspersed with palm trees….

Ragi and Palm Trees

…which produce regular crops of coconuts.

Coconuts on Bike