Friday, November 21, 2008

Will you Ride a Rickshaw?

Just saw an old picture in one of the magazines – Nehru and the Frontier Gandhi walking while Sardar Patel was moving along in a human-drawn rickshaw. I do not know if this photograph was intended to show that Patel was less “human” than Nehru. But there is one thing I definitely know, and this is something I discussed with a friend who landed in Delhi on the same flight as I did.

On our first day in the city we found that the easiest transportation from our house to the nearest Metro station was by cycle rickshaw. Do we allow ourselves this “inhuman” pleasure of letting one man pull our weight across a couple of kilometers, by rationalizing that this was the most eco-friendly method of moving in the city in these times of high oil prices? Or do we let ourselves be overtaken by the poignant pictures of Kolkotta’s rickshaw men as painted in the “City of Joy?”

Well, we decided to use cycle rickshaws, not just that day but whenever it was feasible, and for this reason – by using rickshaws we would be allowing a poor person to earn his livelihood honourably instead of pushing him to starvation or begging.

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