Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Rickshaw : As I lay waiting

A daily adventure for me is the one during which I procure a rickshaw. You see , I live in the great Indian city of Mumbai , variously called The Pot Pourri (charmingly , 'Pot' is pronounced as in 'teapot' , and 'Pourri' as in 'pani-puri'), The City That Sometimes Sleeps, The Financial Capital, The Tenacious City, and Bombay.

I make a moderate journey daily and this makes the vehicle that features in the title, necessary. There is a method
by which one obtains these precious conveyors of humankind. If you observe the Bandra-ite , he does it by standing stiff, shooting out a ramrod straight hand and saying 'Rick-Shore'. The Andheri-ite differs slightly in that he flaps the arm about a bit  before squealing 'Rick-Shaa' . Up further north, they probably use a different language. (In Delhi, the rumours are that it's a strangely unintelligible 'Aah-Toe')

There are always numerous encumbrances in executing whichever method you choose ( mine is the Bandra method) . Today was different , though. After just one incident, I had the wind knocked out of me so absolutely that I decided to put my tail between my legs and seek my rickshaws elsewhere.

 I was standing near Podar School, Santa Cruz, in my usual manner , arm outstretched and brow furrowed. A rickshaw was chuffing along ; he seemed to see me but showed no signs of speeding up or slowing down. I assumed he would brake sharply on reaching within a foot of me , for dramatic effect. My little fantasy was rudely interrupted though , by a fat local lady.  She had been shuffling dangerously from side to side, fifty feet behind me, moments earlier , indicating a brand of lameness that many Indian women acquire as soon as their sons get married and a daughter-in-law is available for the enviable task of massaging the legs. This particular fat lady's magically repaired legs started moving forward at an extreme  pace on her beholding the rickshaw . She interposed her considerable being between the rickshaw's front and me, bringing it to a premature grinding halt. A husband and children appeared out of nowhere , bags and suitcases materialised ; before the driver or I knew what was happening, children and bags were being hurled inside in a similar manner ( I think the order was suitcase, girl , large bag , boy) and the couple elegantly took it's place with the shuffling manner of the lady now properly resumed. I don't think the driver had a chance to even splutter 'kahaa?' , he just drove away, gasping and I was left gaping.

I am still learning about survival. The average Indian is far ahead of me on this count.


  1. For a 'first post', this is brilliant!

  2. It's brilliant anyway

  3. Thanks. Would like it if you left your name. :)

  4. Good one..But I would like to make a point..I feel the situation is much better in Mumbai..In Bangalore one has to ask autodriver's permission before entering it. He'll take u only if he's going in the same direction. Autodrivers' dont need passengers in bangalore but its the other way.
    But u had a nice encounter out there..

  5. I did, Darshan. You are right , we actually have it good as far as Ricks are concerned. I was pointing out that the average Mumbaikar is so obsessed with 'getting ahead' that he often , discourteously , and also very comically, neglects basic human courtesy.

  6. Darshan is right Andrew, you know we should plead drivers here to take us. Most irritating thing is that they simply lay in Auto stand smoking doing nothing. Don't know how they earn money.

  7. Such innate observation, Andrew! :D I love the eye for detail. This particular line is commendable! : "...indicating a brand of lameness that many Indian women acquire as soon as their sons get married and a daughter-in-law is available for the enviable task of massaging the legs." :D (I'd have never expected you to know that :P)

    And "Aah-toe" cracked me up

  8. Thanks Faye :)
    Well, it's not great observation when it's thrust in your face daily ; the other day I saw a line of them at the airport! With another line of dejected bahus behind them. The smug and indifferent looking husbands were a sight to see , it's so much a matter of course.