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Tuesday, Aug 30, 2005
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NEXT BEST OPTION: Cycle rickshaws now ferry goods instead of passengers in the city. Photo: D. Gopalakrishnan
HYDERABAD: Clink-clank. The jingling bells made one side step as the three-wheeler weaved its way through the maze of traffic. Be it a `sawari' or material, it was the ideal mode of conveyance. Now the wheel has come full circle. The cycle rickshaw is no longer the preferred means of transport - at least not for the city folks. Time was when this contraption was a familiar sight on the road. But now you will be `dhoondte reh jayoge' and yet not spot one.
No takers now
The once ubiquitous cycle rickshaw is an extinct lot. Occasionally one may chance upon a rickshaw, but there are no takers for it. If the puller seems to lose an inch of self esteem, the rider yards of it. "I wouldn't like to sit in that creaky machine," says Rakesh, student of a public school. Yes, for the generation next the slow paced cycle rickshaw is strictly no no.
Hyderabad, it is said, had the largest number of cycle rickshaws after Calcutta. Tens of thousands of famished souls eked out a living pulling men and material through heat, humidity and rain. In fact there were several places in the Old City where only cycle rickshaws operated. The fare was fixed. No haggling, no quibbling. Just hop in and ride.
"For me a ride through the rickshaw is a great way of enjoying the sights and sounds of the city," recalls an oldie.
However, one can't help being moved by the plight of the rickshaw puller. There were many welfare schemes in the past through Setwin to extend succour to the lowly-paid pullers.
But the cycle rickshaws are now gradually edged out. The urbanites have simply no time or patience for the slow moving machines. While many have quickly graduated to the autorickshaw others have turned to odd jobs. "Nobody wants to ride in a cycle rickshaw these days. They find it below their dignity," says Akram who now transports construction material in his rickety machine.
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