Rickshaw driving in Madras…..as long as Im strong enough

(interviewed in Tamil and translated – In Madras, India, one of the main transports is the AutoRickshaw, motorcycles with little carriages in the back which allow people to ride in and which will take you door to door for a minimal price. We caught this rickshaw outside our hotel to go to the mall.)

I am a rickshaw driver. I started this job because it is an honest living. I’ve been at the rickshaw stand in front of this hotel for over 25 years. They know me here.

I don’t own this vehicle. I rent it and everyday I have to pay the owner a fixed amount. If I owned my own vehicle then all the money I earn would be for me and I wouldn’t have to give it to somebody else. This way, there are often days when there is no profit and I have to give money to the owner from my own pocket. Somedays there may be a profit and somedays there may be a loss.

I studied only up til 8th standard (about 8th grade) and then I got a license. Once you get a license, you can get a vehicle. Just the license is enough.

One time, I was going at about 11 oclock in the night along the right when another rickshaw overtook a lorry and crashed into me. All of us were thrown out of the rickshaw and the vehicle was torn into pieces and we just escaped with our lives as somebody came and crashed into the pieces.

In the future, I want to get a vehicle of my own so I can help with the devlopment of my family – right now, I can’t save all that much. I have money to eat but that’s about it. We don’t earn that much.

I see myself doing this for the forseeable future – as long as I’m strong enough.