Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Aren't Our Rickshaw Walas The Richest Community After All?

Rickshaw walas are undoubtedly one of the richest communities in Mumbai. A businessman is constantly looking for clients, a shopkeeper tries his best to sell the product, and brands spend millions in advertising and marketing to get a boost in sale and market share. But not our rickshaw walas! They are least perturbed. They work according to their whims and fancies.

Heavy downpour, innumerable mini lakes and ponds on the roads and a throng of commuters wrestling with their umbrellas and running behind every single empty auto asking if he would be kind enough to drop them to their desired destination. But it only takes a second for that auto driver to say no and take his empty auto on an indefinite voyage.

It seems to me that our helplessness is a kind of sadist amusement for these auto drivers. They wander the streets and with their vacant autos waving their rejection on our faces. This happened with me today. I had to go to the Post Office and I asked this rickshaw wala if he would take me there. He said, “nahi madam, aage bohot traffic hai. Abhi nahi jayega.” Considering how firm they are to their word I moved on in the deluge seeking many more rebuffs.

After a while I saw this same fellow roving round and round generously snubbing everyone giving the same excuse he gave me. The only sane inference I could come up with after this was that they are all god damned critters. And of course bloody rich.

Only a rickshw wala, in Mumbai, can say no to business. He would rather sit in a corner with a cutting, music blasting in his “office” chatting away with others of his kind. Every now and then they make their way into the news demanding hike in fare or they would go on a strike. Aren't they always on some sort of a virtual strike? Whether they are on strike or not, the scene is not very uncommon for the commuters. The only thing that changes is the upshot the hyped strike has on our pockets.

I’m being a pessimist here but I do not envision any recuperation in this condition any time soon. There is always a huge chunk of people standing at the stands waiting for an auto. And then there is this other chunk of people who are mostly headed in the same direction on their bikes or cars. They say Mumbai is spirited and helpful and full of life. This may be true in case of a disaster but not always. Those people on bikes and cars can always offer a lift to the other chunk. Sadly, that never happens.

The battle continues. Sometimes you are lucky. Most of the times, you are not.


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