Friday Feature: Faces of India

Who: Autorickshaw travelers
Where: Delhi-Agra Highway, NH 2, where the speed limit was between 20-80km/h
What: This three-wheeled auto-rickshaw is a popular mode of transport; it sometimes holds up to 16 people, more if there are children. It travels at between 20-40 km/h and can be seen on the National Highways of India transporting people from one city to another. The almost $200,000 Audi A8 may have 4500 buyers in India but most of India's 1.2 billion population doesn't earn that much in their lifetime. (Thanks, Kitt, for that last link!) You might call these travelers brave — I do — but most of them have little choice when it comes to transport between cities.

The ubiquitous autorickshaw
Always adorned, with people half-spilling out

small kid and eggs
A child peers out at me and a woman sits in the back with eggs

Kid in the auto-rickshaw
this time, a kid's sitting alone in the back

Blurry but she's looking at me!
four women and a child

Urban transport
in the slower lane; the shoulder is reserved for even slower traffic, sometimes in both directions


Kelly Davis said...

I saw a family of five on a motorcycle in Baroda. Little girl on the sitting on the handlebars, young boy in front of dad, dad driving, baby wedged between dad and mom, who was riding sidesaddle. All except dad were barefoot. No helmets.

Nupur said...

For all the years I was in primary school, I joined 11 other kids in a rickshaw for the ride to and from school. And each of us had a school satchel that weighed as much as a small child!
But the rickshaw maamas (as we called them) and the kids were like a little family. My rickshaw mama took us all out for ice cream the last day of school. Would any parents today allow such a thing?

GB said...

Yup, the ubiquitous auto! You wouldn't have gotten any shots of the patpatiyas in purani dilli by any chance, would you? It seems that the bones of patpatiyas are actually harley davidsons dating back to the second world war(!!)...

Loving this series!

Torviewtoronto said...

wonderful post and pictures enjoyed reading

john k.Tas. said...

Manisha, as usual , love your "extra" items. hope none of those eggs hatched in all that extra warmth ! loved the standard air-conditioning laid on with the transport! regards, john k. Tas.

Anonymous said...

Manisha, I love the caption of the first pic - 'always adorned with people half-spilling out'
When the Tata Nano came out, I was hoping it might turn into a safer alternative for autos - but now I think that it would never work - the doors would get in the way of everything hanging out :)
@Nupur I too went to school packed in a rickshaw like that and @Kelly, in Baroda :) - ice-cream was too posh, so we would get those ice chooskies in long plastic tubes. These were locally called 'pepsi' before the cola brand arrived in India. They're also sold in the US as flavor-ice or otter-pops (

Unknown said...

Lol - good read :)

Unknown said...

PS -I am feeding your ego - please feed mine too ;) See you at now serving (rocking Indian food)

Indian Food Rocks said...

Kelly, I don't know what they are thinking! I am terrified each time I see something like that! But I guess if the entire family needs to go somewhere and public transport is not an option, they make the most of what they have!

Nupur, your childhood memories sound delightful! I don't think any parent would allow such a thing in today's world. I know I wouldn't. Have you read this? The comments that follow are heart-wrenching.

GB, unfortunately, I did not! My pretty guide did not tell me this tidbit. Next tim, for sure!

Torviewtoronto, thanks!

John, a ride in these is often like the game of chicken! My daughter had a blast!

sacredfig, the doors! The doors! That was my first question about the metro, too; but they close! I never had pocket money for those 'pepsis' and was always jealous of the kids who had one almost every day!

Now Serving, thanks! Hope to see you around here more!