5.09.2008

Nepal: Work bikes of Kathmandu

Since it has been "Way to Work" week in Vermont -- meaning, a week where people were encouraged (as if almost $4/gallon gas wasn't enough incentive) to not drive to work*, I thought I would post these photos from my trip to Nepal. Kathmandu was quite an overwhelming place, crowded, dirty, noisy, chaotic -- the list goes on. Modes of transportation included walking, biking, motorized rickshaws, motorbikes (probably the most popular mode), cars (tiny little suzukis), overcrowded buses (passengers rode on the roof), etc. Crossing busy roads as a pedestrian was thrilling -- and not necessarily in a good way.

If I had found a few hours to myself I would have tried to do a photo essay on the bikes of the city which were universally old and used for very utilitarian purposes. I never really had the chance to put this idea into action but I did take a few images of old bikes that had been turned into rolling fruit & vegetable stands around the city.

Most of these bikes were no longer rideable -- in their decrepit state they became space-efficient, portable stands for fruitsellers. They would be rolled into position at the start of the day and moved again when it was time to go home.

Bananas were a local commodity and were commonly available, and very fresh.

Guy with baseball cap #1.

Guy with baseball cap #2: Same person, different location. While trekking (trek video here), we walked through Nepal's apple growing region, it was kind of an odd experience, and nothing at all like Vermont.

Not really a bike, but a cart making use of mis-matched old bike parts.

Lenin, Marx, Mao and a Hindu text share space on a Kathmandu bookstore shelf. The Maoists won the recent elections which can't be good news for the country -- however, previous Nepalese governments set an extremely low bar, so who knows how things will play out.

*For the record, I rode my bike to work 4 out 5 days this past week, so I did my small part for this cause -- and I plan to keep at it as much as possible. I did see a couple of other bike commuters out on the roads as well, maybe the tide is starting to turn a little bit. But traffic still thunders by on busy Vermont Rt. 100, the volume of cars and trucks doesn't seem to have diminished much, if at all.

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