Byline: Crank Bengaluru Bureau
There are many who persistently ask us about commuting on a bicycle in the Indian traffic especially in the metros. Every rider who commutes has his or her own formula and is eager to share it with the new comers as words of encouragement.
Bruce Taylor 49, was new to Bengaluru, having migrated from Australia for work in a software firm here, he cut the number of suitcases short to accommodate his beloved hardtail MTB. But when faced with the traffic and safety set up or lack of a set up, he hesitated to take up bicycle commute. He reserved much of his riding for the weekends with few likeminded neighbours. He found many trails around the city to help put his riding bug at ease. But that wasn’t enough. He worked on the advice and support his neighbour offered and took up commuting and now rides a bamboo bicycle to work every day and has also got the dormant artist in him to create what can be called as a graphic guide to riding a bicycle in Bengaluru. He authored the “View from the Saddle. Tales of commuting in Bangalore.”
Bruce trained in design way before he stepped into the IT industry and he remembers his teens back in Australia when he would illustrate ink based comics, take photocopies of them and circulate them to the book stores around just to get the stories out of his mind on to paper and into other people’s lives. Bruce’s house in suburban Bengaluru is also full of canvas paintings of the sights that bring the contrast between his life back in Australia and the vibrant and loud one he leads here in Bengaluru. He also keeps the arts alive in his children by encouraging them to use drawings and paintings for their homework and projects. In fact, some of the illustrations in the book are coloured by his children using good old crayons.
The book came from the fading of the whimsy with which he used to photograph everything that he saw when he first arrived here. Everything that symbolized India. Everything that caught his wonder. Over a period of time he had lost that sense of wonder and he decided that it was unfair to the land he was living in and he opened up a lot more to observe. Cycling on the streets helped him observe more and record them even more. But a digital photo did not seem to justify the sights and that is when ‘View from the Saddle’ was conceived. It took Bruce over a year to get the book together.
The memories and photographs were first put to paper using pencil and ink and then developed and coloured digitally. The layout was painstakingly set during the little free time he would find from work and family. The style of the artworks were kept more associable to the Indian viewer, resembling a lot of other Indian contemporaries and with the evergreen watercolour type fills and many new textures that were digitally created by Bruce himself because evidently, many of the Indian textures are not readily available in Photoshop, the book is a delight guaranteeing a whole new thought at every page. Bruce has documented everyday happenstances and scenes like flower vendors, workers, technicians of different varieties all performing their work right there on the side of the street. Like they have no inhibition whatsoever. Being devoted to machines, he has carefully documented the various vehicles he sees and even presented their individual capabilities and specialties.
The book has a funny take on some of the things that we as Indians are used to and tend to overlook, but Bruce’s drawings and narration of these seemingly mundane items bring about a fresh perspective to them. And to propagate this perspective to the ones involved is why the book has both English and Kannada narrative included into it. He had the help of Asif, his colleague who has his interests in poetry do the translations and Soudamini help with the narration in Kannada. The book has Bruce making his appearances in his cycling attire, pollution mask, helmet, goggles et al and this makes the book a more believable narrative.
View from the Saddle was meant to be a personal documentary and for the same reason, Bruce never thought looking for a publisher and got only a modest number of copies printed to show it to his friends and family, a lot many copies have made to his family in Australia and Bruce is sure they are having a laugh at what he has to go through every day. Bruce has given copies to many of the characters that appear in his book and has gotten mixed reactions from them.
At Crank, we simply love the book and urge you to find it online on Bruce’s website