Monday, March 19, 2007

The Rickshaw

11.10 am Just getting out of the Ratnagiri station with thoughts of ' now how to proceed further' From far, saw the rick stand, just as viewed on Google earth . A line of ricks and a group of drivers near the first one , all eyes towards the passengers--- their potential customers-- coming out. On nearing them, one well fed rotund person with a look of a pack leader asked ' Where to ? '. I replied ' to the bus stand '. He asked again guessing rightly ' No no where exactly do you want to go' I said ' to Ganapatipule ' . 'It is better you take this Rick directly ' he suggested ' it will be Rs. 350/= '

As I knew the distance to be about 50 kms , I thought it reasonable as they usually expect a half return fare, the unwritten rule being that they cannot pick a passenger from the other village , and vice versa for those ricks when they arrive in Ratnagiri. As we were getting in the rick , Shyamala noticed that our rick driver handing Rs.50/= to the pack leader .

We started the journey , the rick was quite new and so did the driver . I am more used to the rough driving , the zooming in and out of lanes and bursts of speed interrupted by sudden braking of rick drivers in general . Our driver , Nishad , as we came to know him ,was very steady and alert . My apprehension of traveling by rick on the Mumbai Goa Highway was put to rest on seeing his driving. On the road nearing Ganapatipule he suddenly took a wrong turn , when I realized that either he is new to the area or conning us.

12.20 noon We reached ,exactly in an hour as told by the pack leader. Paid him the amount and complimented his driving a 3- wheeler. He said it was his first visit as a driver and we , his first clients to Ganapatipule. It was his first time to get in the Ratnagiri rick stand and had to endure the bossing that goes on there. He did not know that he had to part with a ' Fee ' out of his earnings . That was the Rs.50/= he handed over .He then chatted for some time . It was his new experience as well as one for me, after a long time ,to travel by public transport .

We went in the reception area and came across a typical Government approach by the staff . The person behind the counter ........ that's another post ............

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