|“Mash Allah” written on the front. Means “Go with God.” Written on nearly all the rickshaws, amjats, and buses.|
Up until the last few months rickshaws were my least favorite mode of transport here. Not just because the drivers are generally somewhat reckless or that I have seen many involved in accidents–mostly it’s because I don’t like the one-on-oneness of them. I dealt with a fair deal of inappropriate chatter my first while here. Lately that hasn’t been a problem so much. Partly because I’m getting braver at being sassy when they get inappropriate, but mostly because I think I’ve just been lucky lately and not had to deal with too many creepo’s.
I’m not sure how the locals do it, but I was taught to bargain with the rickshaw driver beforehand. Most of the time I am not an aggressive bargainer. I wish I was. Usually I just prefer to pay the extra 20 or 40 cents or whatever than quibble over it. Every now and then I get into it, especially if their starting price is laughably high. But I usually know roundabout how much it should be to where I’m going and I offer a jineeh or so below that. Works well most of the time.
Sometimes I still forget to settle on a price up front. After explaining where I’m going and sometimes having to twice, I hop in and forget about agreeing on a price. When that happens I usually have some idea about what the price should be, but by that point you’re kind of stuck. I will say that I haven’t really encountered anyone here who has tried to gyp me by some exorbitant amount. Usually just a couple of pounds. Most are pretty honest though. I like that.
|View from the Inside|
I learned recently about a friends rickshaw paying strategy. She’s been here for a good couple of years and never bargains up front. When she gets out she pays how much she thinks/knows it should be. I think this is how most of the locals do it. Sometimes though the driver starts to fuss that it isn’t enough. So she turns around, smiles, and gets a piece of candy out of her bag and hands it to them. Says it works every single time. I believe it. They’re either happy about this little gift from a khawajja or so thrown off or both that it seems to work. I think it’s brilliant. Not sure if I’ll give this strategy a whirl, but it’s something to keep in mind.
We live close to a little rickshaw repair shop. There’s always a bunch of guys there hanging out and fiddling with their rides. It’s kind of cute. It kind of reminds me of a biker hangout or something. They mill about, reveling in their coolness. Nearly all rickshaw drivers are young guys. Most have little trinkets hanging from the windshield. Some get really into is and literally have so much junk hanging from the front that you wonder how they even see out of it. At night you see some with fancy lights. Some even have little sound systems. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of any of the really decked out ones, but they make me smile every time. Though, I do avoid riding in those if possible. I like to think the driver can actually see out of the windshield at least. For the same reason I also avoid the ones with the drivers wearing sunglasses at night.
I like seeing how many people and things can fit into one rickshaw. They seat three people comfortably in the back. You can squeeze four into the back seat, and up to two more squished up front next to the driver. If there are little kids you can fit even more on peoples laps and such. One day it was like watching a clown car unload. There had to of been at least four adults and four or five kids packed in. I have seen beds on top of rickshaws–not even tied down just being held by an arm on each side. Chairs on top. Large pieces of wood and other materials sticking precariously out of the sides. My favorite was the day I saw a rickshaw with just a goat riding along in the backseat.
While I don’t rick it on a super frequent basis (I’m usually pretty content on the bus or walking), it’s a nice option to have around. And, literally, they are always around. If I get stuck or I’m in a hurry it’s easy to get on and rick it to wherever I need to go. It’s nice to have options and to be able to get around the city relatively easily without having a car.