India Diaries – Rickshaw Rides

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For the two weeks I worked at the host company’s office, my coworkers and I have had a fleet of cars to shuffle us back and forth to the hotel. On our last full day of work one of our coworkers arranged a surprise, cycle rickshaw rides. A cycle rickshaw is a pedal cycle with two rear wheels, supporting a bench seat for passengers. Most have a canopy that can raised to block the sun and rain.

Up to this point, some of the group had been on rickshaws already. The rest of us were green and kinda terrified. After experiencing the crazy roads, I was in the latter camp. The hotel organized a bunch of drivers that lined the street outside of the hotel complex. However, there were some drivers that tried to muscle in on the action. I shared a rickshaw with my coworker but most of the group went solo. One of the drivers tried to lure my coworker and I with the sounds of English words. Our driver caught wind of what was going on and a heated argument started. I called the hotel security over to shoo the man away. I didn’t want it to get violent.

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With a line up of about 20 rickshaws along the side of a busy road, it was quickly becoming a Western spectacle. Indians were staring from across the street and a few feet away. It was a little disconcerting for me at this point. Until then, the staring didn’t bother me that much. Morning entertainment I guess.

It was an exciting and terrifying ride. Buses, motorcycles and cars rushed by mere inches from the rickshaw. Horns were honking like crazy. We feared for our lives, there was little laughing. Our driver expertly navigated the roads with ease. The video gives you a taste of the experience.

We got to the office safe and sound. We were given 50 Rupees to pay the drivers with. I had shared a ride with a coworker but I gave the driver the 50 Rupees anyway. I didn’t need it. As I was about to head into the building for work I saw the security guard harassing my driver. Then the driver came back over to me and tried to give me the 50 Rupees back. It was disheartening to be part of this little game. I couldn’t believe the security guard told him to return the money to me. I refused and told the driver he had to keep the money.

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In the end I was glad to experience the rickshaw ride which is a major part of Indian life. It’s just something you have to experience if you are visiting, like seeing the Taj Mahal.

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