Richard Wright

author of strange, dark fictions

Journal

Tuk Tuk

October 16, 2009 by Richard Wright in Journal, Life

You never forget your first, I suspect. The tuk tuk is a three-wheeled, open sided auto rickshaw, that looks insanely dangerous, and probably is. They’re everywhere in Delhi, and are about the only thing on the road that you can flag down. There are taxis here, of course, but they don’t stop for you (you either find a taxi rank, or phone for one). If you’re out and about with no driver, a tuk tuk is an inevitability.

While they seem to have meters, they don’t use them, so if you don’t want an argument when you get off it seems best to agree a price before you get in. The drivers appear to have a variable knowledge of the area, although they all know where there mates have shops. When they ask you if you’re interested in shopping, the correct answer is ‘no’, unless overpriced tourist tat is high on your shopping list. While they might not have the faintest idea of where your destination is, I get the impression that their solution to this is to pretend they do, and worry about the details later.

Then you climb in, and they launch sedately into the Delhi traffic, more or less assuming that nothing is going to hit them. I wonder if anybody has ever done a study on the average lifespan of the tuk tuk driver.

It’s a rush though, like a fairground ride before they invented health and safety.

Today we took a taxi down to Lodi Gardens, a gorgeous, maintained park full of fourteenth century ruined tombs (put up by the Lodi Sultan dynasty, fact fans). They’re massive, ruined things, and for Eva it was like having several run down castles to clamber through. She had a great time, as did we, and it finally felt like we were getting a peek at the sort of things we came all this way to explore. And these were just the tip of the iceberg, the first touristy things we found. Today, I was excited all over again to be here.

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