Monday, July 13, 2009

Should they come back?

That bright yellow vehicle has all but disappeared from the streets of Chennai. What was once a strongly preferred mode of transport has been relegated to a few corners around the city. The reasons for its fading away are many. For some, the idea of having another human take you around with his physical effort seems to be abhorrent; it is far too slow to match the pace of modern man; even with the shade up, it is too hot to travel in - or, it is just that it seems to be socially infra dig.

Maybe all of them are valid, but there are other, equally valid points for continuing to use these cycle-rickshaws: they are non-polluting, they can be used far more effectively for short-hauls than any motorized option, they provide employment for many who are unskilled... all of it going to show that the 'man-powered-carriage'(*) can still find a niche for itself in this crowded city.

These rickshaws are filling one such niche. They are waiting, close to the Chennai Central railway station, for folks who cannot afford any other means of getting to the closest lodge after a long and tiring journey. In many cases, these newcomers to the city have wrenched themselves away from their native lands with all their possessions and this is the best way for them to soak the atmosphere of a new city, while they seek out the most economical lodgings. In the meantime, there is also a proposal somewhere in the works to have a bunch of cycle rickshaws traverse the Marina, as an attraction for the well heeled tourist who wants the 'experience' of travelling by the rickshaw!

(*) 'Rickshaw' is derived from the Japanese word jinrikisha: 'jin' - a man, 'riki' - to power and 'sha' - carriage. Apparently the term was popularized by Rudyard Kipling during the late 19th century. Didn't know that, until now!


Leif Hagen said...

Namaskara! I think the yellow rickshaw looks like a fun way to see Chennai! How much for an hour ride? Dhanyavadagalu

dyanna said...

Beautiful pictures.I like your blog.

Shantaram said...

@ Leif: For you, a special price! Let me know when you want it scheduled!

@ dyanna: Thank you for the kind words! Welcome to this blog and hope to see you around often!!

Unknown said...

Interesting views into Chennai. Your sense of history is very nice. I particularly like the way you introduced what we today call Chennai.

Shantaram said...

@ Stone Skippers: Welcome to this blog! Thank you for your kind words and look forward to seeing you around often!!