There are two kinds of rickshaw-walas.
One is the slow rickshaw-wala. He goes through each pothole with love, letting his three wheels feel each and every bump with great delicacy, allowing you to savor every jolt of pain in the small of your back, and every rattle of your skeletal cage. He believes in the importance of the journey, and cares not about reaching. If you ask him to go faster, his eyes glaze over, his shoulders hunch fiercely over his handle bar, his knuckles jut out with grim determination, and his rickshaw makes loud noises, in an attempt to make you believe that he has speed-ed up.
When the hawker boy running beside you overtakes you, and you impatient say, ‘Bhaiya, bhaiya, please hurry, I’m going to miss my plane/train/film/boyfriend’, he does leap forward with uncharacteristic bravado, but at the first truck/bus/car/cycle that threatens to be left behind by his speed, he panics, brakes, your nose is into his back, which with anyone else, you would consider great intimacy, his rickshaw goes back to its soft rumble, and you make a call to your boss/mate/client/boyfriend to say you are going to be late.
Then, there is the fast rickshaw-wala. He hurtles across every fly-over, confident that he will land just between the bus and the truck, in the tiny space allocated to him by the god of moving things. He takes pride in overtaking the flashy cars, specially if they are being driven by women. He believes not in the journey, but in the ride. He doesn’t care about whoever may be in the passenger seat, he is intent on watching how far he can go, how fast, without his rickshaw toppling over.
As your neck jerks from whiplash to whiplash, your hands go numb with clutching the seat, and the rest of your body has become a limp, raggedy doll, you ask him to slow down. At first, he pretends he has not heard you. When you hoarsely whisper again, ‘Bhaiya, please, I don’t want to die’, he turns around without his rickshaw slowing down, looks at you contemptuously, slows down to an almost-halt, plods for a few meters, and as you just begin to straighten out the various parts of your body, comes the top of another fly-over, and there he goes flying again into space.
And you give up all pretense of being mistress of your own destiny, and pray silently for a mercifully swift end.