Of Rickshaws and Rickshawallahs


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Of Rickshaws and Rickshawallahs

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Language: English

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The University Press Limited
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Till the early seventies, rickshaws were the normal mode of transportation in Dhaka. Even today, this inexpensive, environment-friendly, non-polluting form of transportation is a way of life for thousands of people: the men who ply rickshaws, and those who make, repair, or embellish them, as well as those who ride on them. Rickshaws are often the only form of affordable transportation during partial flooding or heavy monsoon rains. Decorated rickshaws have been called moving masterpieces. Their colourful backplates reflect both male desires as they do contemporary politics, and serve as a useful barometer to gauge the mood of the people. Today, however, the rickshaw is viewed as a traffic hazard and an anachronism and is being increasingly threatened by rapid urbanization and mechanization. How long can rickshaws survive under these circumstances? Will they be relegated to tourist attractions such as Singapore or Malacca? Will Santiniketan be the only place where rickshaws continue to be the predominant form of transportation along with cycles? Of Rickshaws and Rickshawallahs is both a paean to the rickshaw and the rickshawallah as well as a sobering look into their world. It is a novel attempt to portray the different facets of the lives of the rickshawallah and the different forms of the rickshaw across Asia. It includes the several genres that the world of the rickshawallah and the rickshaw has inspired. This miscellany includes, among others, stories by Rudyard Kipling and Humayun Ahmed, photographs by G.M.B. Akash and Tanvir, paintings by Farida Zaman and Rokeya Sultana, poems by Mahbub Talukdar and Kaiser Haq, essays by Syed Manzoorul Islam and Sudeep Sen. The editor has masterfully woven the available literature on the subject to make this anthology a unique presentation. It projects a three-dimensional look at the rickshaw and those who depend on it, encapsulating a way of life that may, in a few years, disappear altogether.



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