I am at Johri Bazaar in Jaipur after an expensive meal at LMB, over rated & over priced, typical. I need to go back to my hotel in Bani Park for a snooze and decide to ask a cycle rickshaw. 50 bucks, 30, no 50, 40…, okay 40. It’s a tough ride in all the traffic, though not for me, the slow pace and open view allows me to see Jaipur - something that isn't possible either in the mini bus that I had taken to get there or in an auto rickshaw. In any case the cycle rickshaw is probably as fast if not faster than a car in this mess of a traffic and I bask in the satisfaction of paying 40 bucks to a poor man whose sinewy legs pedal away the distance. Eco-friendly transport to boot!
It is only after we get out of the old city mess that I start a conversation. My main motivation to take the rickshaw is actually that this is an improved design.
Is this rickshaw better than the older one?
The earlier one was better, this one takes more effort.
So how is it that this one is so popular?
The customers like it, then what is the choice, and in any case I rent it… @ 25 rupees a day.
How much do you make in a day?
300 on a good day,
…and on a bad day?
0, when unwell its 0. This work is very difficult, start at 11 am and go on till 11 pm then I earn 300 some days.
So how much do you make?
After all expenses, on an average 100 a day. Room rent is 1000/month, have to give 5/day to my landlord to keep the rickshaw at my room every night. Repair is all at my cost. Have to pay 25 irrespective of whether I work or not, whether I earn or not.
And in month?
1500 is what I save in a month, I have my wife and children here. I do not know how I am going to manage like this.
12 hours of work that gets the veins in your legs standing out like a blue network I am thinking
Its time to get off
Where are you from?
Whats your name?
I give him a 50 note, he starts to look for the change to return 10 to me, I ask him to keep it
He has the semblance of a smile on his bearded face all of some 20 something
As I write this I think maybe I should have asked him for a chai…next time
There are many Muhammed Munnas out there, some of them sleep out the nights on the rickshaw on the street sides, it saves them 5 per day