Monday, 4 July 2005

Travel log - 13

A doesn't like Delhi's autorickshaws.

But I seem to have better luck with them. Haven't got majorly ripped off to date, despite knowing little of the city except CP, New Delhi railway station, Nizamuddin and the roads that connect them. And had one experience that warmed the cockles of my very cynical heart.

I was heading to Nehru Place to get myself a ticket from an Air Deccan booking office.

First, the auto driver didn't make any demands, just turned on his meter, which, I'm told, is a minor miracle. And reinforces my belief that I lead a charmed life.

Then, on the flyover between Nizamuddin and the Ashram junction, traffic slowed to a crawl. I was starting to worry about whether I'd make it to the travel agent's in time. Peering through the windscreen, I saw that the hold up was party because of a cycle rickshaw, laden with bulging sacks of atta, being pulled by a scrawny man straining every sinew.

The cars ahead swung to the right of him, in typical Delhi style, unmindful of what might be in that line, some swearing at the hapless rickshaw puller. Shit, I said to myself (we do a posh line in soliliquy), I'm never going to make it at this rate.

My auto finally came up just behind the cycle rickshaw. And the driver began what my Bombay instincts think of as a risky overtaking manouver. But, as he drew level, he slowed down, stuck his left leg out and instead of the passing kick I thought he was going to deliver, braced his leg against the back of the rickshaw, revved his engine, and began to push the cycle rickshaw up the long slope. The rickshaw puller feeling the load lighten, picked up the pace to a shambling half-run. Our convoy was now sticking even further out into the traffic, and the impatient horns behind us built to a crescendo. Angry faces glared at us as they overtook in the remaining one-and-a-half lanes. But we proceeded slowly right up to the crest of the slope before my driver brought his leg back in and scooted ahead, barely acknowledging the rickshaw puller's grin of gratitude.

Random kindness, senseless acts of beauty. Never thought I'd find an example on Delhi's roads.

(Yes, I got my ticket. Though I honestly wouldn't have minded if I hadn't.)

1 comment:

Ashish Gorde said...

I have the highest contempt for Delhi's rickshaw and taxi drivers because they seem to have a knack in making one of the most archaelogical rich cities into a living hell. However, your account of this rickshaw-wallah makes me wonder that, perhaps, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and, maybe, there is a silver lining after all.