Relief was the first reaction followed by a happy face when my auto rickshaw driver waded through the walls of great traffic and ensured I reach office on time today. I could have kissed the top of his head if only he was not so sweaty and my action would have not provoked assault/ rape in the middle of a busy day!
When I say ‘my’ rickshaw-wala I mean ‘my partially’ for the moment owned riksha, whom, under any other circumstances I would be cursing inevitably.
The change of perception can be seen clearly in our day to day life. When I walk on Mumbai roads, I know I am the Queen and can strut around aimlessly amused at the other people hurry occasionally getting irritated and abusing everyone around for honking and screaming for no evident reason! At the same time, if I am driving I will keep an eye out for people walking on the road or those ‘horrible’ rickshawalas for driving recklessly and roaming around like tiny little cockroaches ready to climb on you and give you a heart attack! Yet, somehow, today I felt the relief when my rickshaw victoriously managed to cut through an unavoidable uncanny Mumbai traffic that appears anywhere/ anytime of the day!
Hail to the Mumbai ‘ rickshaw-wala ‘ who get abused all the time and proudly do everything possible to be abused at. The worse being not doing their job! Every time you are late for your office/ college or any urgent work, you are bound to get haunted by the Rickshaw gods until it comes down to a frustrated you threatening the last rickshaw into dropping you (which is still not free of course). Now this was a perception I held when I could not get a Rickshaw; yet had I been riding the Riksha I would not have felt very comfortable diving in the middle of a jammed up road just for one complete stranger, would I?
Somehow changing my perception still does not justify for the overcharges, tantrums, fiddling with the meters, reckless driving and accidents caused due to Mumbai Rickshaw Drivers. Everyday there are multiple cases recorded of Meter Tampering, Physical assault to the passengers, Extortion indulged with passengers who do not reside/ are new to Mumbai and of course rejection of passengers requests to go to their destinations. The lawsuit placed on the Auto- Rickshaw is mocked regularly and being in Rickshawala shoes is just as dirty and rotten as Indian economy leaves it to be.