Sunday, 18 February 2007


"Dhadak dhadak
Dhadak Dhadak
Seeti bajaye re..."

This is the first of many songs in a loop, and then some. I've always wondered where on Earth do Mumbai's rickshaw-wallahs (drivers, to the uninitiated) get their music from. As I hop in to a rick en route from work, I'm uhh... treated to some such delightful numbers. The prerequisite for this is the word loud, and I do mean LOUD. I have a firm belief that they're remixed to the Rickshaw Beat purely for them. Blaring from torn speakers, delightfully distorted know, the works. Basically, the cute guy in the rick three lanes away should hear the din. And you'll cringe when you notice just how cute he is, and that he notices you in a 'singing' rickshaw. That's one. Second, the 'ambience' in most such ricks...

There are embellishments to set the ambience:
a. Pom-poms and sundry other danglers gaudy enough to put a belle at a local fair to shame.
b. Holographic stickers, the more gross, the better: pouty red lips, hearts with arrows stuck through them, knives through hearts replete with drops of blood dripping off the edge and the like.
c. Social service messages roughly translated from the local language would read thus: A girl educated signifies progress, A small family is a happy family, yadda yadda.
d. Now this is a classic: Names. These can include anybody and everybody that the rick guy dreams of / includes in his list of family and friends. (Pappu, Monty, Sonu, Chinky being favourites, whoever they may be. Sometimes I think they're arbit generic names, like Xerox for a photocopy.)
e. Posters of Bollywood stars, mostly female with loud makeup (specially enhanced for the said poster).
f. And traditionally, last but not the least, lights! Now these have to be in flourescent colours, running the gamut from pink and green to a sickly (and sickening) yellow. If some of them can be programmed to march, blink, flicker... Wow. Err, whatever.
g. The horn. Tinny, bullfrog, bass... It doesn't matter, as long as it's effective to make meandering cattle (both human and four-legged), other unsuspecting vehicles and various other life forms jump out of their skin and incidently, out of the way of Mr. Dashing's three-wheeler autorickshaw.

The rick flying over potholes, the speakers screech:
"Meri haathon mein nau nau choodiyaan hain..."

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