Monday, January 18, 2010


Aaaand we're back. Sorry for the delay. First a picture update. Then some words.

Results from the testing done on water from the tap in Kolkata. Blue is fecal coliform (e.coli) which can cause roto virus (severe vomiting and diahrrea that can sometimes result in dehydration or death) and red is regular coliform. There's a lot of both.

The slum that is tucked away and hidden right smack in the middle of the bustling Kolkata marketplace.
Hand pulled rickshaws lined up at the marketplace. Notice the compact stance of the rickshaw puller.

In the state of Assam- Gwyn and the cycle ventures team leaning out to check if traffic is coming. We are on our way to the Rickshaw Bank Sweat shop.

Suprio Das checking out the rickshaw prototype of a proposed double gear system.

Deceiving! Looks like protective welding eyewear, but it's not. They are working on the frame of the rickshaw.

Double gear system. Again.

Tina attempting to peddle a CRD rickshaw on the bumpy dirt roads behind the rickshaw factory. Understanding the product you want to improve is a lot easier on the ground.

Brooke as she attempts, also, to drive a rickshaw.

Brooke and Adam working on a design to protect the ball bearings from the dusty roads.

Since we last updated the blog, we've done a number of things:
1. Visited the Calcutta Samaritans
2. Welcomed Bernard of Tanzania to Kolkata
3. Packed our bags for Guwahati
4. Strolled along the Brahmaputra
5. Searched the electronics market high and low to locate the appropriate materials to make a magnetic induction flashing LED light system for the rickshaw
6. Worked alongside the Cycle Ventures class for a day or two in the Rickshaw factory
1. The Calcutta Samaritans were very helpful. We were very lucky to be shown through a slum that is located in downtown Kolkata. Amidst the buzzing marketplace, tucked away in an alley, lay the site. We saw the community center (two small rooms) as well as homes. They were very close together and were beginning to build second stories in illegal areas near the marketplace.
2. Bernard is 'poa' (cool in Kiswahili). Now that Bernard is here we get to learn four languages: Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, and Kiswahili. We are helping Bernard finalize his cell phone charger design that runs on a bicycle and looking into manufacturing.
3. We packed what we thought was important and forgot everything electronic that we needed to make an LED flasher for rickshaw drives at night run in the same way a speedometer on a bike does – coils! We didnt really finish it because the speaker magnet was inadequately large but will work on it later for fun. The flight was short. Guwahati is colder than Calcutta
4. The Brahmaputra is a really wide (2 mi) river that comes off the Himalayas and floodingly inundates Assam every year. This is why they have very wide sidewalks with huge sewers. Tina even got a chance to check out an island in it that has a Hindu temple as its main attraction.
5. We got an old speaker magnet, LEDs, many many meters of copper wire, and played with it for some time. Wrapping coil makes for great hang out time, especially when Indian cookies and sweets are involved. More to come on this.
6. The CRD (Centre for Rural Development) was one of our main original contacts but little has come of that. Instead of getting a chance to learn more about the overall NGO operations, we worked with the MIT Cycle Ventures class led by Gwyn Jones to help them redesign rickshaws. We spent two days helping them with structural analysis, design process, energy production and consumption, and positive negativity.

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