Friday, March 2

Rickshaw recollections

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I was in Paris recently and spent an immensely enjoyable afternoon walking along the Champs Elysees, ogling the impossibly elegant window displays and enjoying scrumptious Ladurée macarons (more about that in a separate post). It was all fun and good but by the time I reached Place de la Concorde my sore feet reminded me how far I had walked from my hotel. Imagine my surprise then on coming upon a rickshaw, right under La Grande Roue! Talk about finding something just when you need it.
Parisian Rickshaw and my friendly driver
Tempted by the drivers friendly summons I went for a short ride on the Parisian rickshaw. It made me smile as I compared this comfortable rickshaw, smoothly gliding along the grand boulevards with the tangle, screech and jolts of a rickshaw ride in “purani Dilli” or old Delhi. My mind drifted to a hot summer afternoon – three girls crammed into a tiny rickshaw, hanging on for dear life as it maneuvers speedily through the narrow alleys. We wedge our toes tightly into the foot-rest, for we know that when the driver brakes sharply at the next obstruction, it is the only thing which will save us from toppling over.

A rickshaw ride is the best way to explore the sights, sounds and smells of any new place. You are on the street, moving along at a leisurely pace but at the same time you don’t need to worry about getting lost. Moreover, it is a green mode of transportation, reduces congestion and creates jobs. For this reason, the rickshaw is increasingly becoming visible in tourist hot spots of London and Paris.

An artist who like me seems to be completely enamored by rickshaws is Rajkumar Sthabathy, he has done a whole series of watercolors depicting this ubiquitous mode of transport on the streets of South India. I love the way he captures the colorful patterns painted on the rickshaws along with the burnt sienna of their rusting iron bodies. What makes his work take on a deeper meaning is the fact that he captures these strong hard workers in a moment of quite reflection, lined sun burnt faces telling a story of lives filled with endless toil. He depicts the rickshaw as a precious source of livelihood; the driver waiting alertly for the next passenger adds to the sense of anticipation in his work. I find myself waiting along with them, wondering when the next passenger will come along. Here is a selection from the beautiful paintings for you to enjoy. The rest of the collection can be viewed here.

1 comment:

  1. It's very good . The watercolour paintings are very beutiful.


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