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You’re in for a Ride by Joanne Skourletos

August 30, 2015

Before going to India, I didn’t know what a rickshaw even was. We were told that there are no addresses, and that taxis and rick shaw drivers get around based on known landmarks. This was pretty confusing to me and I couldn’t understand how no addresses could exist. Well, on our first day of school, Samina hailed a rickshaw and explained to the driver what area our school was located in. The three of us jumped into the back seat and he sped off! Traffic in India is nothing like in the US. Cars, bikes, and rickshaws are weaving in between each other with little to no regard to the lanes. A constant noise of honking horns is in the air as vehicles whizz past each other. After about 20 minutes our driver began pulling over and asking other pedestrians if they knew the direction of our school. He kept doing this until we got closer and closer, finally reaching a school (no wonder we were taken to the wrong one). The drive to the school should have taken about 15 minutes, and wound up to have taken us 40 minutes instead, because of all the times we had to stop to get help from others. This would become a common theme in the rest of the rickshaw rides we would take. After school that day we found another rickshaw driver to take us back to the hotel. The common landmark that we told him was that our hotel was located near the Pizza Hut (which was a well-known spot). After he drove us back, we asked if he could return the next morning to take us to school at 7:30, and he agreed. The next day, we ended up leaving the hotel later than planned, but we figured our rickshaw driver would realize we weren’t coming after ten minutes and leave. To our surprise when we walked out of the hotel, our driver was still sitting there waiting for us! He had waited 45 minutes for us to come out! I couldn’t believe this. This is definitely not something that would have happened in America, where instead they would have quickly left, not wanting to sit there unpaid. I think this is an example of how strongly workers stick to their word, something that doesn’t always occur to the same extent in the US.

On my last night in Hyderabad, I was going back to the hotel from a shopping mall. On the way to the hotel, I asked the driver to stop at a store on the way back, and he did. He pulled up on the opposite side of the street, and I got out, and looked at traffic, wondering how I was going to be able to cross all of these lanes of traffic safely. The rickshaw driver got out as well, and helped me to safely cross the lanes of traffic. This was such a small yet extremely kind gesture that also would not have been something that I would have experienced in the States.

Every rickshaw ride though noisy, and often a bit scary was unique and helped me to better understand the culture and the ways of people from India.

Jo 5

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