A Rickshaw Ride on a Rainy Day.

I am sipping coffee under the usual influence of the dim yellow lights in my
room, trying to write about my travel adventures but there is this constant
disturbance of the traffic refraining me from writing. I restrain myself from getting angry about the constant traffic of this city. For around a week now the usual background in my room has been this; the rains have made matters worse for us.
Ahmedabad has received around 16-17 inches of rain in a span of 5 days which is, actually, not that a scary number but the conditions have made us believe that the rains are a horror for everyone.


Travelling in the rickshaw and going to my radio station which is in the other
side of the now overflowing river, I was treated with interesting sights. The rickshaw vallas were using this opportunity to earn more by charging extra in the name of water logging and, ironically, an Amdavadi would hardly deny it. The children didn’t care about what the conditions were or what their parents said. They were
drenched in water and were enjoying to their fullest.

Stopping at one signal and waiting for the red to turn green, I observed 3-
4 kids entering the traffic half naked. Their so called ‘helplessness’ was surely
an advantage in earning more. They were wearing good quality jeans, I could
see. Ignoring those beggars and turning my eyes the other side, I saw a girl
doing a little celebratory dance after bagging 50 rupees from someone. I turned
around and found a disheartened face of a boy who felt bad for not
earning enough. I was disturbed knowing that some parents can actually risk
the health of a child in such situations when what that child needs is the
warmth of that parent. But I guess that is what a ‘helpless’ situation looks like.

Clearing my mind after this incident, I shifted and sat at the edge of the
rickshaw to get my head out and enjoy the rains more. The concerned
rickshaw-valla with a humble voice asked me to sit safely inside and added that
the chances of getting sick are more; I smiled at the gesture and did as he said.
I shifted to the middle of the rickshaw again and initiated a conversation with
him.
As we were chatting about this city and those rains, I was noticing how the
people were adapting to this weather condition. I could see people wearing
polythene bags on their head, carrying varied colored umbrellas and switching to walking to avoid the traffic. The poor people had made a cover for themselves by using big sheets of plastic over their head. I could also see someone riding his 2 wheeler with an umbrella and someone folding their pants to walk in flooded
areas.

Life did not stop for the people here. It never does. They were enjoying somehow by
treating themselves with a chai and complaining to strangers about the rain, by
laughing at their situation when a scooter would stop amidst the clogged
areas. I could see more unity among people.

20 minutes had passed and I had just reached halfway. I was listening to the
rickshaw valla’s story about his daughter’s marriage when he suddenly stopped
the rickshaw. There was news that the road ahead was close as a tree had
fallen. I rolled my eyes as we had to take a U-turn, I was now sure that he will
charge me more. I just had 90 bucks.

Taking a different route the big pot hole on some road caught my eye; the
rickshaw-valla informed it was because of the rains. Angry at the city’s conditions
we crossed the Ellis bridge, one of the well known bridges of Ahmedabad, and saw a number of people clicking photos of the flooded riverfront under the bridge. So this was how my Whatsapp was always full of such pictures, I realized.


We finally reached the old part of the city and surprisingly, there was no water
logging. There were muddy roads for sure but not as bad as the one’s in the
‘much developed’ side of the city, as they call it. We easily reached my destination and that kind rickshaw-valla dropped me till the lift of the building. He just took 80 bucks from me and I could do nothing but thank him for such a wonderful ride
around the city.


Maybe our city has the tolerance to adjust to such circumstances but does that
mean that we can be taken for granted and left to suffer and merely ‘adjust’?
 
Keep thinking.

 

-Manasvi Shah.

1 Comment

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