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A Double Seat Life – photo feature

November 10, 2008
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The pictures below illustrate life in India…double seat, triple seat and yes even quadruple seat if there is such a word! The photographs are of people from different classes of society and shows them going about their daily life…to work, to school, to pray, to celebrate, or just for a joy-ride. For them life is all about double seat and triple seat…

This first picture was taken about a year ago, one hot summer while driving through Pune.

Some readers have seen this picture of mine as I use it in my header at times. I took this in Mumbai. One of my favourites.

I took this on a highway in the city.

I thought this kid was really sweet, the way she was clutching her father. Even her little legs were tightly coiled around the cycle. She was certainly safer than many other kids I have seen precariously balanced behind their moms and dads, barely holding on.

This picture of the teenage girls riding triple seat was taken in Mumbai. They were on a side road, away from the eyes of the cops. In Mumbai the traffic cops are strict and wouldn’t allow this.

This picture, of the little girl being taken to school by her dad, was taken in Pune.

The picture below was taken on Dassera day. A woman probably on her way to a temple.

You see the motor cycle at the back? There are four people on it! Well, this isn’t that unusual in India. The pic was taken in Pune.

Here is another one! (added later)

The last picture, where the boys look like skin-heads was taken during the Dahi Handi celebrations here in Mumbai. This happens on “Janmashtami,” a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna. In Maharashtra, various “Handis” (Pots) with dahi (yoghurt) are hung at heights (ranging from 20 to 40 feet) and groups of youngsters go around the city trying to break as many handis as possible and there are attractive prizes, some going up to lakhs of rupees. These youngsters train for months, and Dahi Handi is not just about religion for them, but a sporting event. There are all-women human pyramids too. The significance of breaking the Handi is that Lord Krishna was fond of dahi and would try and get it wherever it was kept.

We were traveling in a car side by side and I took this picture through an open window. These guys were on their way to break a Handi, and they saw me taking their picture with my cell phone. They had no objection to it! In fact they posed.

All the above pictures are copyrighted to me. Please do not copy.

Related Viewing: The Youth of two different Indias
Photo essay of street selling in India
Truck Art in pictures
Diversity of life in India in pictures
Colours in clothes…what do they mean? A photo feature.
Earning their daily bread on the streets of India – a photo feature.
Small town India in pictures and faces of small town India
Photo essay of a traffic signal in Mumbai

More: Photo posts.
Slide shows
Travel Posts.

40 Comments leave one →
  1. November 10, 2008 9:25 am

    This reminds me of a recent occassion, when 9 of us, 8 adults [including the driver] and a kid to ride in a single rickshaw..just imagine how stacked we were for a short distance of about 2 km

  2. November 10, 2008 9:39 am

    Reminds me of a trip to Mysore where I went with 8 of my friends. On a deserted road we were not able to get any vehicle to reach the station and finally all of us packed ourselves in one autorikshaw which appeared from nowhere. Imagine 9 people in one auto!!!!🙂
    Nice photos. I liked the little girl one.

  3. November 10, 2008 9:49 am

    Great pics of the everyday stuff.. we see it on and off through out the day.. police might also be seeing them, God knows how many of the people who flaunt the law are fined!

  4. November 10, 2008 9:59 am

    Do you remember this photo on ,y photoblog? You use it anywhere you need. No copyright issues from me.

  5. November 10, 2008 10:23 am

    I used to carry at least 2 jumbo’s behind me on my Hamara Bajaj Scooter😀 Reminded me of college days.

  6. November 10, 2008 12:22 pm

    @ Nita : They would not have been able to get away with this here. Oh and pillion riders need helmets as well according to the local law. The police here are quite tough on two wheeler riders.

  7. November 10, 2008 12:26 pm

    Nice pics, Nita!
    So, you have a camera permanently hanging around your neck or what?

  8. November 10, 2008 1:05 pm

    Most of those pics will be changed soon after the arrival of Nano ..

    Ofcourse, the ones who is riding cycles wont be able to afford it but the ones with bikes and scootes will surely buy it so that they can have a nioce ride of the city in an AC car and without any risk !!

    It will be a fascinating sight for me !!

    A dream comes true of every middle class family to roam around in theri own car !

  9. November 10, 2008 1:54 pm

    Rambler and Amit, once twenty of us fitted ourselves into a fiat!

    Sakhi, you should ask how many bribes are paid!🙂

    Suda, yes I remember that photo. And thanks, if I need for an article I will certainly use it!

    Odzer, looks like they are strict in Chandigarh. In Pune they aren’t and in Mumbai they are strict in town, not so much in the suburbs. Actually if they see you, they are, but there are too few policemen in the suburbs.

    Rambodoc, I try to carry my camera at all times, but if not, there is always the cell phone!

    Soham, thats a good reminder, the Nano! For any family with a two-wheeler it is a dream come true. I remember when my dad bought his first car, we were in school and so excited! We will see fewer two-wheelers and the face of Indian roads will change forever!

  10. Vinod permalink
    November 10, 2008 2:02 pm

    aren’t there Bajaj scooters anymore with little boys standing in the space between the rider and the handle of the scooter? That was the way I travelled with my father on scooter.

  11. November 10, 2008 2:22 pm

    hmm many breaking the traffic rules… i guess thats what the rules are meant for.. atleast here in pune.

  12. November 10, 2008 2:45 pm

    Nita, you have captured the circus on two-wheelers we see on our streets which speak volumes about the massive transportation needs and the way we go about it.

    @Sharad Bapat -Rules are meant for breaking…. but .when you throw caution to the winds, it is the spines that will break sooner or later.

  13. November 10, 2008 2:48 pm

    Nita, thanks for this interesting angle – you always find some unexpected perspectives to share with us, that is amazing!

  14. November 10, 2008 2:54 pm

    Wow, very interesting…I loved the 4th one most where the little gal is holding on to her dad tightly, that’s very sweet. BTW what an interesting post out of such normal day to day pics🙂

  15. shanmani permalink
    November 10, 2008 3:19 pm

    Nita, thanks for this interesting angle – you always find some unexpected perspectives to share with us, that is amazing!

  16. November 10, 2008 4:18 pm

    HAHAHA!! Hilarious pics, indeed! I once tried three ppl on the bike, and it wouldn’t move!😀

  17. November 10, 2008 4:24 pm

    I have seen 5 people on a bike,no i am joking,seriously🙂

  18. November 10, 2008 5:10 pm

    Great snaps. Now we know why Ratan Tata thought of the Nano and why that car will sell like hot cakes. Send these to Mamata, Nita!

  19. Joss permalink
    November 10, 2008 5:10 pm

    It’s all too mind-boggling for me! And that’s not just because of the triple seats, nor the lack of helmets. I used to ride a scooter a long time ago, and I always went out with padded jacket rather than t-shirt; well-fitting trousers not a sari wafting about in the breeze; and boots rather than flip-flops. OK, I didn’t look in any way glamorous, like these ladies manage to do. But I never had an accident, apart from when my wheels slid from under me on an icy side-road. There we are, I suppose, it’s a different world here.

  20. November 10, 2008 5:45 pm

    Ok I beat all of you! Recently I saw 6 people on bike. Parents and 4 kids! Making fun of traffic rules, safety and their lives and others’ too.

  21. wishtobeanon permalink
    November 10, 2008 6:46 pm

    Hi Nita, I liked the two pictures of fathers taking their girls to school – firstly because of the innocence it portrays and secondly, due to the environment-friendly transport they use.

  22. November 10, 2008 7:05 pm

    Truely ‘indian’ pictures..lol..

    Agreed that middle class people ,and that includes me,don’t have a choice and are forced to have a circus ride,instead of a safety-caring ride..But is the cost-cutting worth the risk?Maybe we are saving 20 rupee by travelling in tricycle..But what about the money,time and effort lost if the rider loses his/her balalnce …Well,even a sprain will cost,time and effort and of course money,worth more than the 20 rupee saved…I hope people realize that …

  23. Vipul permalink
    November 10, 2008 7:45 pm

    Hi Nita – Interesting pictures.

    I sometimes wonder why the concept of the scooter with the ‘dummy carriage’ on the side (remember Sholay – Yeh Dosti song!) never became popular?
    Is it because the guy sitting on the side would look stupid!!🙂

  24. November 10, 2008 8:00 pm

    Axinia, Kanupriya, Shanmani, thanks.

    Vinod, that is exactly where I used to stand on my father’s scooter and he had a lambretta! No, there are no such scooters now, those large ones where there was standing space for a kid. Now you have these smooth new fangled designs which take up less road space!

    Sharad, there just aren’t enough police!

    Gopinath,we are pretty innovative aren’t we!

    Nikhil, just three? You better get your bike examined!🙂

    Vishesh, I believe you!

    Vinod Sharma, Mamta won’t care!!

    Joss, for someone not used to it, these sights can be quite a culture shock from the point of view of safety! About the saree, I don”t know how women even drive scooters with sarees billowing in the wind! I have some snaps of those and will post them one day.

    Reema, 6 is something! I guess that seriously Nikhil needs to buy another bike!🙂

    wishtobeanon, well the environment friendly didn’t strike me! well said!

    Nimmy, it’s amazing how many risks people here take and it makes me wince. Its nto surprising that two wheeler riders get into accidents a lot…specially on the highways where the traffic is fast.

    Vipul, if you see India now you will know! There is no road space!🙂

  25. November 10, 2008 10:49 pm

    I remember walking into Tiruvannamalai one afternoon and we began to play a game, counting how many riders on the scotters we might see. The winner was 5. Mom and Dad and three small children.

  26. November 11, 2008 8:05 am

    Nita: The scene in the second last picture looks very familiar to me- people trying to make use of every single inch on the road, bikes here and there, car drivers sweating and cussing.🙂 I miss Pune!

  27. November 11, 2008 9:12 am

    hehehe, very nice pictures, In my town everyone lots of people go four on a bike, specially college students.🙂

  28. November 11, 2008 9:37 am

    Nice pictures! I used to ride around my hometown in a bicycle and I loved that. We used to call 4 people on a bike as Fourbles. So it was Doubles, Triples and Fourbles and yes as kids we tried to ride 4 persons in a bicycle. That was fun!

  29. November 11, 2008 12:17 pm

    Your pictures are awesome and makes me remember the times when an autorickshaw would carry 1 driver and 5 passengers.

  30. November 11, 2008 12:58 pm

    Paul, didn’t quite think of it like that before…counting I mean!🙂

    Ruhi, Pune is waiting for you!🙂

    Goli, normal day to day life for us!! Although not in Mumbai, but all smaller places.

    DineshBabu, Fourbles huh. Now that’s an interesting word! I love new words and I think this could be Indian English.

    Nandu, good to know that the photos brought back some nostalgia, I think they did for quite a few commentators. If the Nano comes, these sights will become rarer and rarer.

  31. November 11, 2008 1:51 pm

    Somebody said Pune??? I am waiting on Airport/Bus Stand/Railway Station with हार तुरे आणि गुलाल खोबरे for “Welcome Back” 😀

  32. November 12, 2008 1:51 am

    Nice pictures Nita.. I always seen this in Chennai too.. for a record I have seen 5 people in a bike.. hard to imagine.. but they done it😀
    I don’t have camera at that time so couldn’t capture it. But with rules are there, our people are
    just happy to break them which will cause some severe troubles to them.

  33. November 12, 2008 9:46 pm

    he he ..nice photos ..
    like the last 2😛

  34. November 13, 2008 1:20 pm

    Nita, just noticed your fiat comment. Twenty maybe not, but i remember this one time when we fitted about 10 people in our fiat🙂

    Nice, and very different post.

    Mine included two babies and several toddlers!🙂 – Nita

  35. Padmini permalink
    November 14, 2008 12:45 am

    Great pics. They transported me back to when about 100 of us (it felt that way) squeezed into the very old Ambassador all the way from B’lore to Mysore – or rather,Bengaluru to Mysore.What fun:) I cannot imagine ever doing it again.

  36. Dnyanesh permalink
    November 14, 2008 2:19 pm

    Yes. It is very common. I have seen youngster going on a bike, then with a girl on the back seat and then whole family going on a bike. Nano may change this but I feel bike will still remain choice for youngsters, couples as it is more romantic.

  37. November 16, 2008 12:25 am

    nita you always go an extra mile and it always brings a smile😛
    thanks for sharing the snaps…..the pic posts are always worth reading

  38. November 22, 2008 7:30 pm

    I love the little girls being taken to school by their dads🙂
    People who do use Two wheelers will not be able to afford a Nano. We just need to create awareness – campaigns like recent ‘Bell Bajao’ campaign. And make separate lanes for two wheelers, where ever possible.
    I too have ridden, like you, on a Lambretta as a kid.

  39. December 20, 2009 11:20 pm

    I hope I hvnt violated the copyright of your pics, since i have put one of the pics only as a reference for my blog…

    • December 21, 2009 7:50 am

      I do not know what you mean Anushri as you have not given a link to your blog. If you are using it for a non commercial purpose with a link to my blog saying that the picture is from nitawriter.wordpress.com, then it is not a copyright violation. Any other use (except for a student project) is a copyright violation.

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