Two months in India

I feel like I have barely written my post about my first month in India, and now it has been two months today already !

Even though I miss most of them, the sunsets are still really nice over here.
Even though I miss most of them, the sunsets are still really nice over here.

Since last time, I calmed down about some things that annoyed me most, but some others annoyances are getting worse. Many events have occurred over these last four weeks. Amma has left the Ashram, I went on a couple of girlie escapes from there too, I went swimming in the Ocean and made some new Indian friends. My project started happening, the 500 and 1000 rupee notes have been declared illegal and Trump got elected. I started working again on some projects from back home, I moved into a new room and new students arrived.

Project Time in Coimbatore

One month after starting my project, the designing session was over, and we started production. If you’re curious about the manufacturing, have a look over here.

The Ricycle's first prototype bike
With my Ricycle bike and manufacturer after our first 4 days of work.

The manufacture workshop we were working in is located on another campus, 300 kilometres away. Don’t be fooled by the “short” distance, it actually takes 10 hours to get there.  In my new flat, I was happily surprised by finding two Dutch students in the living room. They were also doing a project here and it was nice to meet some new friends, and watch movies in the evening.

Amritapuri Ettimadai surroundings
The campus in Ettimadai (near Coimbatore) is surrounded by mountains and has a friendlier atmosphere than Amritapuri. It is also cooler in the evenings and has less mosquitoes, which is also enjoyable.
One great thing about the Coimbatore campus is the Swimming pool... until dozens of kids jump into the water for training along the width of the swimming pool. The Ashram swimdress also makes training more intense!
One great thing about the Coimbatore campus is the Swimming pool… until dozens of kids jump into the water for training along the width of the swimming pool. The Ashram swimdress also makes training more intense!
odissi dance
We were lucky to attend the Odissi dance performance at uni. The dancer was also very pedagogic and explained the meanings of movements and songs.

Ashram Life

Since Amma has gone, the Ashram is calmer, there are less people around but also less activities and shops closed most of the time. The swimming pool has been closed for technical problems. One day, after meditation, Amma scolded her swamis and devotees who arrived late, and sent them to run around the meditation as a punishment. Since then, devotees walk or run around the hall “for fitness”, because Amma told them to do so and her intention makes the action stronger. I find it hilarious to see the Indians in shirt and dhoti (“skirt”) run around the hall barefeet. But I joined them by doing 10 laps every few days followed by strengthening exercises, and it is a soothing practise. I hope to heal my knee who hasn’t recovered from the unexpected marathon in June (Run24Dorigny).

robots and food, two of my faves
One day, a colleague from the lab invited me to have a dinner he cooked in the lab, from Northern India.

New friends arrive, and old friends left. We have been playing music after dinner, eating loads of cake to finish our food cards and eating enough watermelon with Chris to carry baby watermelons in our full stomachs.

Akshay with a snake
The Ashram is sometimes like a zoo… after rats, pigeons and crows in my room, cockroaches, ants and millipedes crawling all around, here is a snake found just outside the building.

Sweet Escapes

Don’t ask me why I hadn’t escaped the Ashram earlier. Once I did it I was asking myself the same question. Part of the answer comes from numerous bank holidays and strikes we were not told of, otherwise we would definitely have gone on a week-end somewhere!

Houseboat in Alleppey

With 3 other girls from the Ashram, we decided to take 2 days off from spiritual life and go on a houseboat tour. The backwaters of Kerala are a very famous network of canals and lakes where houseboats can be rented overnight.

Justine, Lise, Teresa and I, enjoying the cruise. How great to find ourselves in a girls group on the backwaters!
Justine, Lise, Teresa and I, enjoying the cruise. How great to find ourselves in a girls group on the backwaters!

Beach time in Varkala

Another escape from the Ashram, just a few days ago, was to the beach in Varkala. My new friend Khan had told me about a music and arts festival he was organising, and as I was coming back from Coimbatore it would be the occasion to visit this beach resort.

gigantic jellyfish
Simona and a gigantic jellyfish. Loads of them were washed up on the beach, and many others stinged us while we were swimming. No jellyfish fights like back in New Zealand here!

I had too much to say about these adventures so read more about the houseboat tour and Varkala here!

Trump, feminism, shitty feelings, etc.

When the US elections were going on, I was in the workshop in Coimbatore. I was looking at the ongoing results with fear. When Trump was declared next president, I didn’t know what to think about the situation. I was in shock.

“To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” Douglas Adams (thanks Johann!)

I didn’t think Clinton was the best candidate, but I believed she was infinitely better than that misogynist, racist and islamophobic  guy. I felt terrible because as a women, I felt personally attacked by his repeated offences on women. I felt terrible because society didn’t care that much about sexual assault, and thought it was ok to have a president who could do such things to women. I felt like crawling in my bed and crying, waiting for the storm to go by.
I felt terrible because these elections were bringing up bad memories of harassment I had tried burying deep inside,  and I knew I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. Women were hurt all around the planet. I felt hurt not only because of the guy I feared, but also because I somehow identified as the woman I realised I admired, because she came so far and a white man less qualified got the job: “I cried because it does things to you to always come second.”

The only thing I hold to know, is the hope that you sometimes need to take a great fall to get back on your legs. Lets do this together.

Illegal Tender

Just the day before Trump became president, we had another piece of bad news. It was after dinner, the Dutch and I were watching a movie. Jelmer suddely rises and pauses the movie: “Guys, are you ready for this?!” and he reads the news about the new money situation. The government had suddenly declared that all notes of 500 and 2000 rupees (approx 8 and 30€) were worthless pieces of paper, from midnight the same day.

Our first reaction was: “Should we get a taxi to Coimbatore and get drunk?”. But we quickly resumed our movie, confident that we would soon be able to change our old notes into new and withdraw money from the ATM.

One week later, the situation was slightly getting better: after waiting in line for 2 hours I was able to withdraw 2000 rupees from both of my cards.
One week later, the situation was slightly getting better: after waiting in line for 2 hours I was able to withdraw 2000 rupees from both of my cards.

That was, we were thinking in our European mindsets. We didn’t expect banks to be locked down for 2 days and ATMs empty for a week. We didn’t expect the banks to refuse to serve foreigners. And we definitely didn’t expect a maximum amount of 2000 rupees (15€) to be withdrawn per day.

Luckily, at the university and Ashram, we didn’t have to pay for anything, and the situation could’ve been far worse. I couldn’t imagine being travelling around or having to pay for my stay somewhere and catch a plane with no money. We even managed to escape to Varkala with almost nothing, as we heard that the tourist spots accepted old bills. We also hoped that the money situation would be better in a city than in a village: it wasn’t.

In Varkala it became a joke: “No money!” we told the vendors, “No money no problem!” they answered, “come tomorrow!”. When I couldn’t afford soap, it was suddenly less fun.

At that moment, I realised it was a real serious situation. Government was fighting corruption, but wasn't able to foresee the consequences of taking out all the biggest notes. People didn't have money. Banks neither. There were people queuing in front of each bank for hours, not even sure to be able to deposit their old currency or withdraw from their bank account.
At that moment, I realised it was a real serious situation. Government was fighting corruption, but wasn’t able to foresee the consequences of taking out all the biggest notes. People didn’t have money. Banks neither. There were people queuing in front of each bank for hours, not even sure to be able to deposit their old currency or withdraw from their bank account.

Spiritual Pause

With Amma gone, the spiritual vibe of the place lessened. With all this travelling around and a new flatmate, I was practising less meditation and yoga. Now, with more uni students around, the conversations are more about fun facts about India rather than spiritual discoveries. I have read a few great books that helped me understand what is going on, and I’m looking forward to Amma’s return to get back into spiritual mood.

Monkey sitting on a branch.
Pensive monkey in his monkey tree… picture taken in the village where I will implement my project.

Not “Finding myself in India”

So many people talk about “finding themselves in India”. I was feeling like I lost myself. With all the rules from uni I didn’t dare break, and all the fear instilled in me by people who had never been to India themselves, I didn’t recognize me in my habits. Add to that the discovery of spiritual stuff and I was getting lost, not found.

I walked in the street gazing down, afraid of the disgusting dirty looks I once noticed when I walked past Indian men. I was staying in familiar places, not even trying to explore. I was locked by a fear that wasn’t mine, the fear people had for me when I said I was going to India. Just like in Brazil, I wasn’t scared, but people made me feel insecure.

Where did my inner explorer go? Where is the crazy girl who keeps running away on adventures? I haven’t even climbed up the highest building of the Ashram, and that’s a mere elevator ride.

Getting high, on 14th floor, but still not on the rooftop.
Getting high, on 14th floor, but still not on the rooftop.

When we went outside for the first time, and I could pull out the GPS on my phone to check the directions or train stop, I was back into my normal self. Not lost, confident, and having loads of fun. It was a great way to prove myself that I could do it, I could travel India with my friends and I could do it alone. These baby steps proved me that India wasn’t that different from countries I’ve travelled, I know how to be safe, and I’m not afraid.

After a MONTH AND A HALF, I went swimming in the sea. It was awesome, and I caught the cutest sunburn I've ever had. I can't believe I waited this long.
After a MONTH AND A HALF, I went swimming in the sea. It was awesome, and I caught the cutest sunburn I’ve ever had. I can’t believe I waited this long to go to the beach.

Sweet escapes from the Ashram

Houseboat in Alleppey

Houseboats and kids in a kayak
The backwaters of Kerala are a very famous network of canals and lakes where houseboats can be rented overnight.

With 3 other girls from the Ashram, we decided to take 2 days off from spiritual life and go on a houseboat tour.

I had been tricked by a friend into believing renting a houseboat was crazy cheap. It is not. Actually we got the overnight rental for around 120€, 2 meals, driver and cook included. Okay, it is “cheap” but my friend was telling me 5€… I should never have believed him!

Justine, Lise, Teresa and I, enjoying the cruise. How great to find ourselves in a girls group on the backwaters!
Justine, Lise, Teresa and I, enjoying the cruise. How great to find ourselves in a girls group on the backwaters!

 The boat cruised along the canals, and we had glimpses of people’s everyday life. Men bathing, women washing pots, kids waving… The canals are their bathrooms and kitchens, as well as their roads.

We had shared one beer, which was delicious after more than a month in “no alcohol land”. Dinner was very tasty, and pineapple for desert was a must. We had “girlie girl” conversations, and were glad the driver didn’t speak English!

In the evening, before sunset, we had to stop our cruise as it was time for the fishermen to go out. Our cruise would resume in the morning.
We had breakfast and resumed our journey. to find ourselves in a gigantic lake. From the crowded canals (I can’t imagine the traffic in high tourist season), we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of fishermen, birds and vast stretches of calm water. The backwaters are definitely a must-see, especially if you can afford the houseboat experience!

Back in Alleppey, we met Teresa’s friends at Lemon Dew, where Khan cooked us a delicious lunch. In the afternoon, we went to have a massage for the girls and face care for me, and a walk around Alleppey. It was awesome to be on our own, outside of the Ashram, and actually doing this all by ourselves! I couldn’t stop smiling, we were on an adventure! A short one though, it is better not to be outside after sunset, especially as a woman. We asked around to find a bus back to the Ashram, and once in there got help from the locals to get off as close as possible and end our great journey in a rickshaw!

When we arrived near Lemon Dew, and these
When we arrived near Lemon Dew, and these “rasta” Indian guys showed up on their motorbike under the communist flag, I wasn’t confident. “Is this safe?!” I asked myself… Well Sanil and Khan greeted us as friends and we had a great experience in Alleppey thanks to them!
This is the houseboat we cruised in overnight. It is very comfortable, and we also had great food!
This is the houseboat we cruised in overnight. It is very comfortable, and we also had great food!
Some of the best food I've tasted here, Khan is definitely a great cook!
Some of the best food I’ve tasted here, Khan is definitely a great cook!
Nice view over Alleppey, we didn't stay there for long but it was a great first experience of going out on our own!
Nice view over Alleppey, we didn’t stay there for long but it was a great first experience of going out on our own!
Walking in the streets in Alleppey
Walking in the streets in Alleppey

Beach time in Varkala

Another escape from the Ashram, just a few days ago, was to the beach in Varkala. My new friend Khan had told me about a music and arts festival he was organising, and as I was coming back from Coimbatore it would be the occasion to visit this beach resort.

varkala beach and cliff
Varkala is famous for its long beach with the tourist shops and accomodation overhanging on “the cliff”.

With the new money situation (the government suddenly declared that all 500 and 1000 rupee notes were illegal, leaving the whole country wish worthless pieces of paper and empty ATMs for days), I had nothing left. Well, I had 100 rupees, which is basically 1.5€. India is cheap, but you’re still not getting very far with that money. Luckily, my partners in crime had some money in both old and new bank notes.

We set off after lunch, got an auto rickshaw ride to the bus station, hopped into a bus where a man was yelling “Kollam! Kollam!” and got there for less than 50 cents. Easier than we thought! Another auto and we get to the train station, where we discover they do not accept old currency despite the government’s sayings.

Simona and Peppiina, my travel mates for the week-end!
Simona and Peppiina, my travel mates for the week-end! “Ladies Only” wagon in the train, with great views on the landscape and backwaters through the open windows.

In Varkala, we walk along the cliff to find accomodation, and negociate a good price at Kerala Bamboo House. Our room is quite fancy, and we’re a short walk from both the beach and festival location.

Making new friends at the Off Beat festival. We were surprised to see many local men but no local women.
Making new friends at the Off Beat festival. We were surprised to see many local men but no local women.

Khan welcomed us at the Off Beat festival, where we had good food and drinks (fresh pineapple juice and rum is a new favourite for me). The band playing was great, transporting us through Indian rhythms, Spanish lyrics and reggae inspirations. The locals were very friendly with us foreigners, and helped us along the week-end.

gigantic jellyfish
Simona and a gigantic jellyfish. Loads of them were washed up on the beach, and many others stinged us while we were swimming. No jellyfish fights like back in New Zealand here!

The second day, we had breakfast at noon, then went to the beach. Hoping to get sun tanned but not burnt, we smeared sunscreen on our white bodies before diving playfully into the waves. Shortly after, we started to feel itchy all over, and Peppiina discovered a huge jellyfish on her lap! We all had stringy red marks on our skin, and decided to get out of the water for a while.

Out there, another surprise awaited us. Most of the people on the beach were westerners in bikinis and shorts. Some Indians walked along the shore, fully clothed. But when we raised our heads from our towels, we were surprised by two lines of a dozen Indians each, on either side of our sunbathing spot! Feeling observed, I decided to walk around and go hide in the ocean, trying to avoid the “selfies”. When I was back, the guys had moved to sit on rocks behind us and this was definitely and uncomfortable situation.

How to get rid of a line of suspicious Indians? Get a professional juggler to perform in front of them!
How to get rid of a line of suspicious Indians? Hire a professional juggler! All these guys were sitting behind us minutes before this picture.

Luckily, as we were covering up, a guy started juggling just in front of us. From us feeling observed, they soon became the centre of attention on the beach as they cheered and clapped at the performance.

We had a delicious dinner with fluffy puppies in the evening, and “Happy Hour” cocktails for 100 rupees. Luckily, all the businesses on the cliff accepted the old notes. Otherwise, nobody could buy anything and they would be as broke as we tourists were.

The money situation was serious, but the local people didn't seem that much bothered as they queued at the bank for hours, hoping to get money.
The money situation was serious, but the local people didn’t seem that much bothered as they queued at the bank for hours, hoping to get money. Notice Simona, the only white in line!

On our last day, we rushed around Varkala in a rickshaw to try to get money, but after a few hours, we returned empty-handed. We just had enough food for breakfast and going back to the Ashram, what an adventure!

Manufacture

Barely a month ago, I started working on the idea of a pedal-powered tractor for rice transplanting. This was for my Live-in-Lab project in India. I have just spent four days in the manufacturing workshop in a campus in Tamil Nadu, a 10h trip from my main campus. This post is tells how the manufacturing went on.

Manufacturing overview document and CAD drawings...
Project presentation and blueprints for manufacturing…

Day 1

After a short month of design work on my project, we are already starting manufacture! Aymeric, who is also doing a project in my lab, and who has already started manufacture announces in a stern voice: “one centimetre”. That is the precision with which our projects are being created. I’m not sure whether I should laugh or cry. As a microengineering student, I feel kind of sad.

In the manufacturing workshop, as well as the “Indian precision”, I also notice the Indian safety standards, or rather the lack of any. Here, the workers are bare feet or wearing sandals, and none of them is wearing safety gloves or glasses. The noise of the machines is deafening, and I often find myself plugging my ears while averting my gaze to avoid the bright flashes from the welding. I would be happy if I don’t become deaf and blind by the end of this project!

The Indians don’t have workbenches: they work directly on the ground. To discuss the design, we crouch besides the parts we’re talking about.

Discussions à propos d'une pièce. accroupis dans l'atelier de manufacture.
Discussing the design of a part, crouching on the floor.

My project is a rice planting machine. When I started doing my research about what already exists, I was disappointed to discover many machines already existed. From cheap machines to massive agricultural monsters, the subject seemed under control. Additionally, while checking out Youtube, I found so many student projects it seemed like all Indian MTech students have to build a rice planting machine. What is the purpose of my project then? I couldn’t see how my work could serve the subject. So I decided to take a radically different approach. Rather than building an average machine that farmers would push or pull across the paddies, I decided to create a pedal-powered machine. Based on a bicycle, with a transplanting trailer, I am convinced that my design could do the job. With countless hours of pedalling in mud as a mountain biking competitor, I knew it was possible to ride through a thick layer of mud. Now I had to prove them.

On rencontre l'artisan/ouvrier qui va construire la majeure partie de mon vélo...
First meeting with my project’s maufacturer…

Apparently, manufacture starts with a prayer. I join my palms in front of my chest, close my eyes, and listen to the prayer in Malayalam. I even recognise some sentences after a month and a half in the Ashram!

We start by building the back wheels. Soon enough, the long strips of steel get bent and welded together as tractor wheels. Yesterday, we went to get a second-hand bike. I like its “old school” looks, but it will soon be disassembled by a gang on young Indian workers.  Only the main parts are kept for my design.

Mon nouveau vélo... qui sera vite démonté !
My new bike… while it was still in one piece!
Voilà comment on fabrique des roues ! Des grandes bandes de métal sont courbées à la main, puis soudées aux rayons et au centre de la roue.
This is how wheels are made! By bending strips of steel then welding everything together..
Construction des roues. La précision : pas plus que la largeur du trait à la craie.
Building the wheels. Precision? Not more thant the width of a chalk mark.
Tout feu tout flammes : qui ne voudrait pas être ingénieur quand son équipe de manufacture fait cracher du feu à un simple bicyclette ?
Who wouldn’t like to be an engineer when your manufacturing team can turn your bike into a fire-spitting dragon?

Day 2

The manufacturing is going well, and my Ricycle is starting to take shape! When I arrived in the morning, I discovered with awe that my back wheels were almost finished, and they are impressive. But when I try to lift one up, suddenly, it isn’t as stylish: they are almost as heavy as my travel backpack. At 13kg each (ok, a bit less than y backpack), I start to lose faith in my project… How will my small farmers manage to pedal this prototype through the fields?! A sturdy mountain biking wheel weighs less than 2kg, I would never have imagined mine weighing more than double this figure! My supervisor tries to comfort me: “worst case, we give your system to an ox, it will be able to pull it!”. Cows are sacred in India, the ox gets all the work. I still haven’t understood the difference, but if they say so…

En arrivant les deuxièmejour, mes roues sont presque terminées ! A l'atelier, il n'y a guère d'équipement de sécurité, et mes yeux souffrent à chaque fois qu'ils s'arrêtent par mégarde sur un poste de soudure. Comme il y en a partout, c'est très dérangeant. Je ne suis là que pour quelques jours, je me demande comment les ouvriers font pour ne pas encore être aveugles !
When I arrived on the second morning, my wheels were almost finished! In the workshop, there is almost no safety equipment, and my eyes suffer every time they fall upon a welding station… As they are everywhere, it is very uncomfortable. I am only here for a few days, and I’m wondering whether the workers are turning blind!

The explanation for this general overweight is the materials used for prototyping. While mountain biking wheels are made out of lightweight aluminium, mine are in made out of heavy mild steel. I’ll have to write down the exact name of it. If we use less material, they would not be solid enough… So they’re heavy. Very heavy.

The other materials and parts used for my Ricycle are mostly second-hand and scrap parts from whatever lies around the workshop. For the gears, we swap the front chainrings and back sprockets. The bike will be easier to pedal with this configuration. For the transplanting system, we find some scrap sawing bands and cut them out. I was imagining having flexible blades, but that was in my ideal designer mind. When I see them hammering the strips to flatten them, I understand they won’t be flexible any more. We learnt in first year’s material class that if you work the metal it won’t be as flexible. Oh well…

Contrairement à l'atelier de mécanique où j'ai fait mon stage d'usinage en deuxième année, ici, tout semble être rouillé. Les matériaux sont les moins chers possibles, ce qui change la donne au niveau du poids, de la résistance, etc.
Unlike in the workshop where I did my metalwork course in second year, here, everything seems to be rusty. The materials are cheap, which changes everything regarding weight, strength, etc.
J'avais fièrement décidé d'introduire des lames flexibles dans mon mécanisme afin d'éviter l'utilisation de ressorts (spéciale dédicasse au Professeur Henein). Je trouvais ça très intelligent jusqu'à que je voie comment ils tapaient sur des bandes à scier le bois pour les rendre droites avant de les retordre et espèrer qu'elles soient toujours aussi flexibles...
I was proud to use flexible blades in my design to avoid using moving parts and springs (special thoughts to Professor Henein!). I thought it was very intelligent… until they started hammering the blades in shape, believing it wouldn’t change the material’s flexibility!

Day 3

My prototype is looking more and more like my computer designs, and I’m impressed. Until now, the biggest project I had made was my robot for the Robopoly contest, which had to fit into a cylinder of 30cm in diameter. The Ricycle isn’t anything alike! The bike is elevated by a dozen of centimetres and the back wheels are one metre apart.

Certaines pièces sont très semblables aux dessins que j'ai fournis, d'autres n'ont absolument rien à voir. Tous ont un point commun : un surpoids manifeste qu'en tant que microtechnicienne, je n'avais pas imaginé !
Some parts look very much like the ones I’ve drawn on my computer, other seem to be nothing alike. All have one thing in common: a considerable overweight that as a microengineer, I would never have imagined!

As the day goes on, the project is getting fine-tuned. At first, we set the parts in the right disposition, then we partly weld them (careful with the eyes!), and afterwards the position is adjusted according to additional parts. Everything is getting together thanks to the manufacturer’s work and it is an awesome thing to see. When I have a close look, I notice that it is far from being precision work, and when “fixed” parts are more that one centimetre lose, my microengineer soul dies a bit but then I take a step backwards and am still quite proud of my project.

Ca commence à ressembler à mes dessins 3D sur l'ordinateur !
It is beginning to look like my 3D drawings!
La mise en place des éléments est aussi soumise à la précision
The disposition of parts is also subjected to “Indian precision”! As one of my metalwork teachers would say: “there’s a shitload of sideshift!”.

I feel like a site supervisor, being a snob hidden behind my sunglasses. I have decided to cut myself out by wearing earplugs. My ears thank me for this but the already limited communication is further degraded. The workshop is so noisy that I hurt my ear. And the welding flashes are still as aggressive on the eyes. As I start coughing, I am thinking that with all these metal dust particles in the air I might replenish my iron deficiencies!

During the day, many Indians come to have a look at my tricycle. They try to spin a wheel, to understand how it works… They smile and nod in the typical Indian fashion, and my supervisor explains them what it is. In Tamil. I am almost never included in these conversations, or at the most with a slight nod towards me.

Les indiens sont curieux de mon projet et semblent heureux de le voir prendre forme.
The Indians are curious about my project, and seem to be happy to see it take shape.

Despite the language barrier, I feel some complicity with the other women in the workshop. They are five, two of them are working on machines. We curiously look at each other, and try a shy smile while nodding our heads. Yesterday, at the tea break, they asked me if I spoke Tamil. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried learning. At the chai break, they show me where to get my cup and make a sign to tell me to sit besides them. One of them speaks a bit of English and asks me some questions. Where I come from and for how long am I here. Even if we don’t speak I appreciate this outreach which makes me feel more accepted than in any of the technical conversations about my project in which I was barely addressed.

Day 4

The project is being brought into life! With pride, I get on my tricycle and start riding… before derailing after a few metres.

Une prière s'impose avant de tester le Ricycle pour la première fois.
Of course, we pray before testing the Ricycle for the first time.

The Ricycle has made its first steps! Or rather, its first wheel rotations. I can’t even imagine the efficiency of the machine, every part is lose. We spend the day assembling and disassembling the wheels and axle to align every part and tighten everything up. Little by little, the parts are welded and lined up with washers, and the wheels don’t have a path difference of 10cm when turned in in opposite directions.

My supervisor brought the axle to the lathe workshop to thread its extremities, and the wheels can now be tightened. This also allows the bike to turn, as one wheel slips while the other is rolling forward when the handlebar is turned. Now the bike is not limited to straight lines! Well this might not be a sufficient permanent solution, as when the bike encounters resistance both wheels slip and the bike gets stuck.

Une étudiante indienne a essayé le Ricycle, et ça a l'air de fonctionner aussi pour elle ! Dans ma conception, j'ai voulu prendre en compte la morphologie des fermières indiennes, qui font en moyenne 1m50, afin que le vélo soit adapté à leur taille.
An Indian student tried the Ricycle, and it seems to work for her too! In my design, I wanted to take account of the Indian female morphology, who are around 1m50 heigh.

Besides building the tractor-bike, we build the seedling tray. But with the change in dimensions of the back wheels and sprocket, we now have to adapt the length of the connecting parts between bike and transplanter. To solve this problem, I feel lost without my computer, I cannot manage to visualise the best bay to rearrange the parts so that they fit together. Luckily, we move on to another problem, which gives me more time for thinking about the former one.

Une fois boulonnées en place, ça tourne mieux, et en plus on peut faire des virages !
Once the wheels bolted on the axle, it moves more smoothly, and we can even take turns!

The bike moves, but is often derailing. Once all the parts have been fixed, it is better, but to guarantee parallel parts when no measurement is precise is a big challenge. We fix small pipes to the frame to align the chain with the sprockets, so it doesn’t derail from the back any more, but from the front! At least now we can pedal a bit further.

Avec l'artisan/ouvrier qui a fabriqué la majeure partie du Ricycle :)
Me with the manufacturer who built most of the Ricycle!

Work in progress…

Maintenant, il ne reste plus qu'à fixer le mécanisme de transplantation... et ça va pas être une mince affaire !
Now, we only have to attach the transplanting mechanism! Well, only… it will definitely be a difficult task!

In four days, we managed to build a mostly functional bicycle-tractor! Now that the biggest part of the job is done, the most challenging part stays ahead: linking the transplanting mechanism and make it work!