Rickshaws are an integral part of any Pakistan’s daily routine. Even if you don’t use one for travel, you still get to see these cute little vehicles annoying you at every step of your car ride; making sure they get noticed. In a nutshell, there’s no escape from these beauties if you live in Pakistan.
As most of us came to know last week, completely revamped Pakistani rickshaws are being imported to Japan and the Japanese are in plain awe of our three wheeled stars. Now that shouldn’t really be very surprising as rickshaws were in fact invented in Japan (yes, we were surprised as well!).
They’re mostly using it for leisure it seems but the convenience of a rickshaw is something even they wouldn’t be able to deny. It’s like your very own cute little chauffeur driven vehicle except a lot more interesting, not to mention, colourful!
These beautiful rickshaws are enough for us to get excited about how beautiful they can get. But it turns out that contrary to the general perception, rickshaws aren’t really used for travel purposes only! They have been used to create awareness and convey messages ever since they came into existence.
Following are some of the most interesting versions of our favourite desi sawaari that we’ve across, and the many ways that it has been used apart from travel:
1. Iconic Rickshaws for Relief (IRFR) is a charitable campaign in London, aimed at raising funds and awareness of the inequalities faced by disadvantaged communities still persistent today in many developing countries.
2. In 2013, a local NGO Pakistan Youth Alliance sent out around 50 rickshaws refurbished and adorned with peace messages, into the streets of Karachi. These beautiful rickshaws came with beautiful poetry and images about peace, instead of the usual poetry that we can see all around the place.
Needless to say, these beauties were an instant hit.
3. What was up with these back-to-the-future-ish rickshaws? Thankfully we never came across one of these on the roads.
4. A Britain based group, The Adventurists started out an activity in India, called the Rickshaw run which attracts daring travelers from all over the world to enthusiastically embrace the challenge of driving a 7 horsepower ‘glorified lawnmover.’ Many colourful rickshaws take part in this much anticipated, three times a year activity.
5. Cycle rickshaws used by a street theatre company, Chennai, India
6. It seems like there’s no end to the ways these vehicles can be used. Rickshaws are getting extremely popular these days as photo booths!
7. Just married! As a ride for newly married couples. We have tongas, trucks, carts for this purpose and now rickshaws join the ranks as well. Tantalising!
8. We were very excited when we heard about rickshaws being launched that’d have women drivers and for women passengers. It was quite an initiative but couldn’t be successful in Pakistan. Oh well, it was good while it lasted!
9. BBC does an annual The One Show’s Rickshaw Challenge in which a team of riders, travel all over England to raise large sums of money for ‘Children in Need’, which is a charity in England.
It’s a little sad to realize that contrary to what we may have thought, rickshaws aren’t really exclusive to the sub continent (and were in fact invented in Japan!! Yes, that one we still can’t wrap our heads around).
But at the same time, it is so so good to come to know that our colourful three wheeled beauties can be used in so many more ways than one.