Over the weekend, police officers randomly stopped around 200 auto rickshaws in this town and found that over 50% of meters had been tampered with so they would run faster than they should! They followed that up with a raid on a local mechanic’s shop and found 150 rickshaw meters being adjusted. The meaning of all this? The rickshaw drivers have been cheating people left and right in order to make a quick buck. Now we all know how Indians are with their money… they will always try to get a discount! That means haggling over one or two rupees or flat out refusing to pay the full price of something. So you can imagine how furious Mumbaikars were when they found out they were being slightly overcharged for their daily commutes!
Word spreads like wildfire around here. So when the rickshaw scandal was discovered Sunday evening, the entire city knew about it Monday morning. The result? People started beating the rickshaws and the rickshaw drivers and literally chased them throughout town!! The rickshaws eventually went into hiding, thus starting the two-way strike. The rickshaws refused to operate until a) it was safe again and b) they could negotiate prices with the government, and people refused to ride the rickshaws until the meters had all been standardized.
So what does this mean for the rest of us in this town without a car? I love walking around the city… there is no secret about that. But when I have to walk almost two miles to school in the scorching heat (remember to factor in humidity) in jeans and a ¾ sleeve t-shirt (as per school dress code), I am not such a happy camper.
The streets were in a slight state of chaos Monday morning, so my aunt asked me to take the back route to school instead: the beach! From our house, if you walk straight down the beach for 1.5 miles and then exit to the main road, my school is about a quarter mile away. Pretty cool… just not on a morning when it’s 95 degrees out. The other downside of this beach trek? Walking on sand is not the same as walking on cement! Needless to say, I reached school completely exhausted (not exactly ideal when 9 energetic kids are waiting for you!), but I did discover tons of little beach cafes and food joints on the way that I can’t wait to explore!! I guess there is always a silver lining…