Shot over the course of a day or so here in Pune
Because we don’t have wheels of our own, our main mode of transportation these days has been via auto rickshaw.
These little buggers can be found put-putting all over the city: big enough to cozily fit 2.5 people (or seven if you are out on the town with a crafty, three-generational Indian family), they’re easily hailed at any street corner.
The meters in the cabs count the number of kilometers in a three or four digit format, i.e. 530 for 5.3k (note that this does not signify the number of rupees one owes, as I found out the hard way). At the end of you’re trip, you’ll be required to do some money magic by multiplying and add some numbers to those kilometers and voila!: your fare price.
But, the fare isn’t quite always, well, fair.
Usually the autowallah will voluntarily turn on the meter (you’ll feel as if the rickshaw-gods have smiled benevolently upon you). But, every now and again, you’ll get bartered with when you ask them to clock the distance. The excuses run the gamut: “Oh, that’s far.”; “Oh, it’s raining.”; “Oh, it’s dark out.”; “Oh, it’s the local price.” which all mean the same thing: you look like a sucker, you-silly-little-American-thing. Raised eyebrows are exchanged, exasperated hands are thrown in the air, haggling is done, and then you either walk away or jump on board.
Once inside, it’s a good time. The ricks weave through the cars and around bikes and even up on sidewalks, blaring their shrill buzz-horns as they go. In traffic, and at stop lights (the few and far between), the wallahs turn the engine off only to start it again with a lever — like a go-kart – just as traffic kicks up and everyone simultaneously guns it. Think of being in a rick as riding in the erratic little-chariot-that-could that’s being smoked at the Indy 500.
But, I love half-hanging out the side and looking around as we zip along. There’s nothing like the wind in your hair and exhaust in your face the first thing in the morning… ahhh.
The following photos were all taken en route from the inside of rick —
just a few quick snapshots of life alongside Pune’s busy roads.