४ माघ २०७६, शनिबार

Rikshaw – Anusha Neupane

DiDi, You from Biratnagar? There must be rickshaws na? She asked
Yes, I smiled.
Oh! wow didi, Rickshaw ride must be fun hai?
How many times have you been in a rickshaw ?
How does it feel to be in Rickshaw?
How does it move?
There was a small rain of questions. I have not thought rickshaw could be exciting to someone who has never been to Terai. This curious Little school girl born and brought up in Kathmandu, is excited about Rickshaw. The ordinary Rickshaw which I have seen throughout my childhood, Which I didn’t like it much as a child because it always used to block my road for cycling. I didn’t love travelling through rickshaw because There used to be an old man pulling the Rickshaw with all his effort in the road full of potholes with sweat running through his body. I didn’t like people who used to travel through rickshaw because every time I used to hear they bargaining with the old man for the money. I didn’t like travelling in Rickshaw because the rider used to be the young man charging high for small distance travelling. But my likes and dislikes would not affect much in travelling through rickshaw in Childhood.
I had seen many Rickshaw through my life. I have seen many rickshaw riders struggling to ride the rickshaw. As a child, I have played the rickshaw Game.

"Rickshaw Wala Rickshaw Wala " Where do you go?

How much money do you charge for it?
10 rs
One two ..t..h..r..e..e

I didn’t know how this game started, and why did always in the game rickshaw wala has to take to Bombay. But this game I think is a tribute to those rickshaw rider given from children.

But going through all these circumstances I have never thought , Rickshaw would be so much fun for someone else who has never really been in rickshaw ride.
I asked her , Haven't you seen Rickshaw ?
Yes , I have , there are some near Thamel area, but they are for tourist. How could I travel ?
Please share your experience on Rickshaw ride na . Please didi Please.

How could I share the experience , about which I have never thought would be so valuable ?
How can I remember those moments which are not even in my prioritized list for memory. But I had to say something to this little curious girl. Why don’t you come to Biratnagar to experience it ? I replied back.

Then it was all over. I was busy elsewhere, she got busy elsewhere.
But Rickshaw was all in my mind.
The Same rickshaw which was used as a most easy vehicle for school. Returning back from market with lots of shopiing, returning back to home after vacations . The same rickshaw which used to block all the way for me while cycling and when I hated the most.
I don’t even remember which was my first ever rickshaw ride. But the lowest Rickshaw fare I remember is Rs. 5 . I don’t know how much they charge today for the same distance. Rickshaw are the part of life in Terai . Rickshaw has always been there at the time of difficulties. Carrying heavy shopping , holding large bags , to make a short travel to the market . Even rickshaw has been there at the time of strikes. When every others vehicles are stopped because of strikes rickshaw has never been the sufferers. Going out of town from bus stop or airport, it has always been there as a starter. It has always brought back home safely. From bringing necessary groceries items to buying expensive items. Rickshaw has always been there. Basically, rickshaw is the part of Terai. It is the culture of People of Terai. It is their lifestyle.
How about the life of Rickshaw Puller, Rickshaw Driver , or Rickshaw rider ?
It is Rickshaw Puller , Because one has to pull it literally.
The life of Rickshaw puller is not easy . He gives all his effort to make life easy , to make life happening and continuing the culture of Rickshaw .One has to give the manual effort to ride it. . Rickshaw are seen only in Terai. It needs plain land to ride. Life in Terai is not easy , especially in Hot summer days. The temperature can rise up to 40 degree. In such high temperature one has to pull and give all his effort to ride. He has to make sure he has not charged the fare high. He has to make sure and make it safe from potholes , he has to make sure about the speed . It must not be too speed or too slow. He has to ride for several kilometres throughout the day. He cannot even get time for drinking water. Facing all the difficulties Rickshaw pullers are continuing the rickshaw culture alive and fresh.
So How does a typical Rickshaw puller look like ?
Rickshaw puller are men of different age groups. But most of them are tired and worn out and looks older than they actually are. The lean and thin body tanned in hot sun , The grey hair , Wrinkled face and hands. And sweat covering the body. The earn pulling rickshaw everyday. As a child I used to be curious about their family .We never see their family . What they look like, what do they do . Who are there in their family. But my curiosity made its way to sort out the life of rickshaw pullers. There came a family of rickshaw puller in our neighbourhood. He had the normal family as we do . There was a open space which was our playground. One fine day , one family came, made a beautiful small cottage from bamboo. It was not their own land. The landlord had given a small space for their settlements. The family looks similar like ours . two children and two parents .
They shared the settlements in our neighbourhood thus got to see their way of living . I don’t know how other puller lead life , but it can be almost similar to what I saw in my neighbourhood.
At the moment, everyone got the news in the neighbourhood , Rickshaw puller is coming into the neighbourhood, everyone got terrified.
The gossips started " OH now we will not have peace in the society , They will steal our belongings . Children will get negatively influenced from their children. How can our children share the same playground with them and so and so . There was so much negativity going on around. However inside our home it was different . My parents was praising the landowner , at least he could give what he has. The unused land will be utilized now.
But still there was some suspicion on how he and his family would be like.
But their life , It was simple. Get up early in the morning , Pulling the rickshaw throughout the day , Collecting small pennies and making it large. Bringing necessary food items for that day, have fun , drinking , partying in family and have a sound sleep . and again the story continues. And Saving small amount for families. He had sent his children to school . But some years later the elder son dropped out from school to support his family riding the Rickshaw. Though the younger one was going
Once at midnight somebody entered in our neighbourhood, attempting to steal from the household. However , somebody from neighbourhood knew and cried louder awakening the whole society. The Rickshaw puller came out with a rod or stick . The thief Ran away . The moment when nobody was willing to get out of the house he alone made the thief Ran away. And he not only became the Rickshaw puller but became a Security Guard too. After that incident he had been able to make good image. They remain in our neighbourhood for almost 3 -4 years . I don’t know why they left that area , or where they gone. But gave some good memories
Yes, Life of Rickshaw puller is ordinary. They work hard for their survival. Every time, if I had to take the rickshaw I used to be in Dilemma. Whether to take Rickshaw and support him for his living or not to take rickshaw because it is difficult for him to pull.
This Dashai, When I returned back o my hometown again , I could see the number has been decreased. The Rickshaw had been slowly replaced by e-rickshaw. Where more numbers of people can travel without any manual effort these e-rickshaw works through electricity. Because these are fast and does not need much effort , people like to travel through e-rickshaw not the manual one. But the feeling of manual Rickshaw ride is different than that of this new electronic rickshaw. Creating its unique Identity, I hope The Rickshaw culture may remain forever in Biratnagar.

[caption id="attachment_50884" align="aligncenter" width="296"] writer: Anusha Neupane[/caption]

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