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The writer's second car is a...cycle rickshaw.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Life has become exciting in the sleepy C block in Nizamuddin East after its eminent resident, writer Sadia Dehlvi, owner of a Maruti Zen, purchased a private cycle rickshaw for Rs 6000 - less than the price of a mobile phone!
The other evening the proud malkin was stopped by former Foreign Secretary Salman Haider, her neighbour. "Did you actually buy it?", he asked. A friend exclaimed, "what made you buy it?" Sadia is unfazed. "Me and my mother who live across the road in Nizamuddin West share just one car and it is convenient to have another vehicle between us," she says.
Until now it was the poor Zen shuttling between the homes of mother and daughter all day long carrying koftas, biryani, newspapers, and vegetables. Now it will be the humble rickshaw.
Couldn't…ahem…Sadia have got another Zen or Benz?
"It's vulgar driving huge fancy cars in a crowded city like ours and rather cumbersome to have a fleet in colonies with parking problems," she says. Indeed. Just 4 days old and the rickshaw is already a hit. "My parking space is no longer hijacked by others while the car is with my mother," Sadia says.
Although the writer's fifteen-year-old son, Arman, is excited about the career possibilities of being a rickshaw-walla, Sadia is encouraging her thrilled cook to pick up the art of handling a rickshaw.
However, she is no memsahib. Every evening Sadia plans to ride the rickshaw herself through the tree-lined avenues of Nizamuddin East. "The rickshaw is fun," she says. "Its great exercise, inexpensive and environmentally-friendly."
There's a drawback though. Though new and shining, Sadia's rickshaw still looks like a commercial rickshaw. It has more than once been accosted by unsuspecting passengers wishing to go to the railway station nearby.
To avoid embarrassment, Sadia has asked an artist to paint it in metallic gold so that it looks distinct. There will also be a smattering of Urdu couplets. "In the evening I will decorate it with garlands of freshly plucked chameli flowers and drape it with a white muslin curtain," Sadia says. She already has "Ya Gareeb Nawaz" painted on both sides. "I owe everything to my Khawaja including this rickshaw," she says.
How to buy a rick?
Go to cycle market in Chandani Chwok
Find direction to the shop that assembles the rickshaw (Sadia went to Prem Cycle Works, Phone-23254176)
Browse though the catalogue and pick the model
Pay the advance
The rickshaw will be home delivered two days later
Be careful, Sadia
She can do it
Owner's pride, neighbour's envy