Rickshaw Wanla This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 21, 2013
By , Chiang Mai, Thailand
When the tourists pay a visit to India, they are always surprised to see the most popular and unique transportation, rickshaw. It is a small, historical and dusty transportation, but even today, people still love to use them. Rickshaw is an inexpensive transportation; however, the sneaky rickshaw drivers triple the fee to the foreigners who have no idea about the actual rickshaw fee. But for me, it was a complete different story. I had have lived in India for seven years, and through plenty experiences I had finally mastered how to bargain with rickshaw wanlas (drivers). I would confidently go up to the driver and show off my fluent Bengali. “Amake mitakeota bolbena” and this would solve the entire problem. It means “Don’t lie to me.” Then they slightly lowered the fee. Even though riding a rickshaw gave me a headache, it was hard for me not to use rickshaw. Somehow I had to bear the pain, because rickshaw was the most common and useful transportation in India.

The seat of rickshaw is made of wood and the number of cracks in the wood showed the mark of history. The foot supporter under the seat looked like it could collapse at any moment, letting my feet touch the sandy ground, ironically, it never did. Right above the seat, there was a sheet of fabric that helped to avoid the direct strong sun rays. While the fabric protected the traveler, rickshaw wanla had to continue cycling right under the skin-burning sunlight without any protection. Most rickshaw wanlas were shirtless and in bare feet. Around their wrinkly dark neck, they wore a typical Indian red and white checkered towel which helped them to wipe off their sweat. On the way to my destination, the most painful thing for me to go through was their armpit smell. As the rickshaw broke through the wind, it carried their unpleasant smell and blew into my nose. As I looked down the seat, there were several pictures of famous Bollywood stars and the drivers admired them like idols. Sometimes, the picture of bloodcurdling Hindu gods showed up on the seat which seemed to be staring at me. Occasionally the rickshaw wanla stopped in the middle of the road and started fixing his old squeaky chain, since it tended to come out of its place very frequently. It was not a big deal for them. Periodically the rickshaw stopped working in the middle of chaotic traffic where big trucks would appear regularly with loud horns and engine noises. Being adapted to such dangerous situations, I put my trust in God who never let me get into an accident. It was always galvanizing to go on a rickshaw and meet new rickshaw wanlas every day. Getting on rickshaw was a big entertainment for me during my last seven years in Kolkata, India. I was actually inspired to see how they worked so hard from day to night to feed their family. They earn fifty rupees per day which is about 0.93 dollars. I learned to be thankful for what God has given to me.

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