Desi jugaad or Indian ingenuity is legendary. Be it churning lassi in washing machines or using condoms to provide a smooth finish to tarred roads, necessity is the mother of amazing inventions in our nation. Even governments here run on jugaad.
Yesterday, in Vaishali, the boom town of Ghaziabad, came across a rickshaw that looked a little different, with headlights, indicators and all. On further investigation, discovered an engine beneath the seat.
The driver/owner of the rickshaw (I cannot recollect his name) says that his motorcycle rickshaw contraption is one-of-its-kind in the area.
He charges a premium of Rs 5 over the usual rickshaw fare in exchange for speed. Fitted with a moped engine, the motorcycle rickshaw (or should we call it a moped rickshaw?) gives 40 kilometres to the litre. He assures that his vehicle wouldn’t topple if it encounters a bump at 40 kmph (the top speed according to him).
Asked about braking, “Power brakes,” he replies with pride.
His only worry is that the transport department says that he cannot ply his vehicle without a license plate, something he expects to get soon.
With the narrow cycle rickshaw tyres, travelling at high speeds doesn’t seem to be a good idea. Moreover the absense of proper suspension wouldn’t make the journey very comfortable in the bylanes of Ghaziabad.
It is quite common to find carts (thelas) fitted with scooter engines on Indian roads, but it was the first time that I saw a petrol-powered cycle rickshaw. Do let me know if such example exist elsewhere.
By the way, what happened to the much hyped solar-powered rickshaws that were supposed to be launched in Delhi?
And here’s a bit of rickshaw trivia. In 1902, hand-pulled rickshaws in Calcutta were priced at around Rs 160 to Rs 180. Would’ve been quite a sum then.