Rickshaw in Pune

Some of you may have seen this photo already, and I have included it again because I’d like to recount the experiences I’ve had with the motor-rickshaws.

First of all, they are some of the best fun I’ve had in a long time. I love riding in them. They provide a different view of the road, a bit between a bike (motor) and a car. And they can ride over pavements, on sand and rock, which is pretty handy when dodging a traffic jam. And this is great. If I could speak Hindi, I would probably be assisting the driver (kind of like a rally navigator) where to drive over so as to miss the traffic jam – LOL! and they do just fine without my intervention.

The really interesting part is in negotiating the rate. Some have meters, others don’t, or they don’t use them. There is a set rate per kilometre. And a rate card can be bought from one of the drivers, although I have yet to buy one. Then it’s easy. For those that don’t use meters, a price is negotiated beforehand. I know what the maximum should be, based on how far a place is from where I am. So I am prepared to negotiate to that maximum. All’s good so far.

What I was totally unprepared for with the rickshaw drivers I’ve come across, was their apparent lack of city knowledge. The one time, the driver stopped half-way to my destination to ask other rickshaw drivers for directions! Ok, I thought, maybe it’s my pronunciation of the place name. So for the next day I wrote down the address of where I wanted to go and showed it to the driver. He seemed to know where to go. And promptly proceeded to turn in the opposite direction to where he had to take me. I managed to get him to turn around and back in the right direction. At this point I decided to start taking a taxi to work.

I admit that I did start to feel somewhat taken advantage of. Until my colleague, who is a citizen of this country, wrote to me and said [in his words], “So you are not taking Auto Riksha anymore? I also have same experience when I visit Pune. Some how Rikshawalas know that I am not local and they would try to make me city tour :-).”

Ok…well, will I ride a rickshaw again? – hell YES!

PS: My commuting to work in India has just become a lot more fun – a colleague fetches me on his motorbike! For those who know me – you will understand my delight at this.

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