the rickshaw wala and the city

Rickshaw walas in Nagpur – go home at 8 pm. Have to be called on their cell phones and cajoled into giving up their favourite TV show and bribed @ 50 Rs. per km, to drop you back to your hotel. The fully satisfying dinner your friend made digested by the time you are through kicking yourself for dismissing the production car in a spirit of benevolence.

Rickshaw walas in Bangalore – exhaust you. They demand too much money, they answer you back in a strange language, all through the journey you wonder whether you are headed towards where you want to go. My encounters with all the rickshaw walas in Bangalore redeemed by the one hero who helped me get my snatched handbag back on a dark street, at night. When I screamed hysterically, “He’s got my bag, he’s got my bag”, the rickshaw wala made a sharp U-turn into a No-Entry lane, jumped out, chased the thief, all the while screaming like a warrior, and me following, doing the same.

Rickshaw wala in Chennai – deliberately took me from the airport to the wrong bus stand, where there were no buses going to Pondicherry during the day, and where he could get Dhanno and me to book a taxi instead, with a commission for himself. When he saw us digging our heels in, he disappeared. Another rickshaw wala took us from the wrong bus stand to the right one at 50 Rs for a distance of 1 km.

Rickshaw walas in Delhi – I avoid. I feel very unsafe in Delhi, and would prefer to book a car. Provided I could trust the driver.

Rickshaw walas in Pondicherry – had a standard 40 Rs. rate for within the city, and 100 to 200 Rs. for outside. I didn’t even bust my head about it, Dhanno and I just walked, and then took a rickshaw when we were tired.

Rickshaw walas in Pune – are rude.

The rickshaw walas outside my gate in Mumbai – are there 24 hours of the day. I can take early morning flights without worrying who will drop me. I suspect their meters run a bit faster than the standard, even then Mumbai rickshaws are cheaper than anywhere else.

Of course, what I ought to have done is kept a record on the antecedents of all the rickshaw walas I’ve been subjected to, then this would have been a useful analysis for the MNS.

The General Secretary of the MNS defending her leader’s statements with shining eyes and a sincere voice said, he only meant to talk about those people who are arrogant, who don’t mix in with society. As a woman, she said, there were so many times she cannot find a taxi to take her where she wants to go, they don’t do their job well.

I didn’t know that taxi walas take a professional oath to serve the public come what may. Maybe they do, but it gets a bit watered down as they pass along their permits and licenses to each other in shifts.

If we are doing away with (no, oops, sorry, we are not doing away with, just sending back) people who don’t do their job well, the city could be cleaned up in no time at all.

In the meanwhile, I suggest the lady take rickshaws instead.

15 comments

  1. lovely.

    though i did make my peace with the bangalore wallas. seldom got cheated.

    george did not, he would scream “you wont go to r.t. nagar? come then lets go to chennai or dilli, they are better than you in cheating!”

  2. I never crib about Bombay. be it Bus, train or cabs. One trip outside Bombay cures me and I am always happy to be back.
    Wonderful post, liked reading it🙂

  3. truly, they are peaceful in bombay. you can get into an auto and relax instead of being on edge about where you’re being taken.

  4. Those people should try to get a taxi in New York City at rush hour to go anywhere EXCEPT LaGuardia airport.

    Bombay’s taxiwalas are awesome. I’ve always had good experiences with them…

  5. In Kolkata the rickshaws ply fixed routes, but the cabs are plentiful, run by the meter, and the taxi guys are generally honest. They are good old Ambassadors, excellent when the roads are flooded and the sexy new cars with low slung chassis are liable to get waterlogged.

  6. The best rickshawala in all of India is Ali in Jaipur. He is a low commission fellow and took me to the best places in town for really inexpensive shopping. I concur with your comments about rickshawalas in Bangalore. It was infuriating when the driver took me far out of the way to take me to MTR for breakfast. If I knew how to speak Kannada, I could have told him that I reward rickshawalas with good baksheesh for their efficiency (not for the long ride!).

    Great post!

  7. I did not know that Nagpur rickshawallas watch tv serials.I guess that because my mom is my driver. Next time you go to my city, take my mom’s number. She will happily drive you around!

  8. Even though I am from Mizoram, I have spent at least 80% of my life outside Mizoram, so I have a pretty good experience with the auto/taxis of kolkata, mumbai, bengaluru, chennai, coimbatore, cochin, delhi and hyderabad, places where I’ve spent at least more than 1 year each. (I am not mentioning the countless number of other Indian cities where I’ve spent just a few months or two…)

    If I was to give my rating, I would award the number one spot to Mumbai, and thats it. The others don’t deserve anything.

    Deepali mentioned above that taxis in kolkata run by the meter. True, but I don’t agree with the honesty of the driver. They always take me by the longest route possible, I wonder how she never experienced that.

    And I will not use my “oriental face” as an excuse for duping me, because if that is the case, then how come the mumbai auto wallas never try to dupe me? Won’t I look oriental to them if I look oriental to the taxi walls of kolkata?

    I love the mumbai auto wallas. Too bad young Thackeray is kicking them out…

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