Rickshaw drivers are the bane of my existence.
They make dealing with day-to-day travel my least favorite part about living in India. For those who may not know, a rickshaw is a three-wheeled vehicle without doors that is used as a taxi in India and several other countries.
The rickshaws themselves are fine, apart from the bumpy rides and occasional rain spill due to the lack of doors. But my experience has shown that many rickshaw drivers in the city are lazy, conniving and love to argue.
I always finish my work at the Times of India office right around traffic hour. When I walk outside, no matter how many rickshaws are on the road, it always takes me at least 20 minutes to convince a driver to take me home. Taking the bus is not even an option. Buses are labeled in Hindi script, come at no particular time and are typically so full that people hang out of the door.
I couldn’t believe it the first time a rickshaw driver refused to take me somewhere. He just looked at me, shook his head and said no. I came to realize that in this country, you have to be going where the driver wants to go, not the other way.
As for their love of arguing, just the other night I got in a rickshaw, told the driver the usual landmark movie theater called E-Square to explain the area I live in and off we went. When we got near the theater, I told him to turn right down another road, but he refused.
“You say E-Square!” he demanded. “I take you there only!”
No matter how much I protested, the driver refused to take me half a mile further. The language barrier didn’t help either, so we ended up yelling at each other in our respective languages, which was actually pretty funny.
I ended up walking the half-mile home in the dark through traffic and on the side of the road because the sidewalk was under construction. I still don’t understand why he was so opposed to driving me the whole way. Good thing Pune is a safe city.
At the very least, I know I look forward to driving my own car when I get back to the States, even though I hate driving. Until then, rickshaws will be a permanent part of my routine. All I can do is hope for nice drivers who, so long as history repeats itself, come only once in a blue moon.