“Small Metal Body, covered with Black Thick sheet above, running with two-stroke engines and mighty three wheels on the road, it could surpass any hurdle, muddy, concrete or paved; Auto Rickshaws or Tuk Tuk were once the most favored public vehicles in Kathmandu. It is still widely famous in many south Asian countries.”
Once upon a time, Auto Rickshaw (Bajaj Tuk Tuk) filled the Kathmandu. You could find it in every nook, any road or alley. I still remember visiting my relatives on a mighty three-wheeler, or sometime going to school in it. The joy of its shaking body was soothing enough to make me sleep, most of the time, or some chats with the friends inside its cove was endless. The best I can remember, auto rickshaws were the only vehicle left at that time in which I didn’t ever puke! Funny, aye?
Imported from the neighboring state of India, Auto rickshaws once ruled the Kathmandu street. It’s Harley Davidson’s engine (bhut bhut) was familiar to each ear in town, and almost everyone, rich or poor, rode on it.
The earliest models were built and distributed by Bajaj Auto, one of the oldest manufacturer of Indian vehicles. The passion with which it carried itself on the road was truly inspiring and thrilling, compared to its 4 wheeler counterparts, which were in upper hand due to their 4 wheels and a great engine. However, most of us Kathmanduties preferred auto rickshaws over any other public vehicle, due to their cheap rates and shaky maneuver.
In my yore, I used to find auto rickshaw wallah the bravest rider in the world. I was amazed with how they carried themselves –their shirt collar up, scarf hanging on the neck, and red tika over the forehead. The way they started the bhut bhut engine, and how they took the twisting turn on every possible road, was breathless! I even saw them in the movie doing flawless stunts –running their auto rickshaw faster than the light, chasing villains, or doing some unthinkable stunts. Such an impact was once made upon me by our very own, apna hero Rajinikanth, the God of South Indian Film Industry. I could see Rajinikanth chasing the villains, the villains who kidnapped his heroin. He could jump along with his rickshaw or even fly with it in some scenes. I do not wonder why the billions of Indians admire him as their God, and millions of Rickshaw wallah admire him as their leader, Godfather, and a Hero. If you ever visit the southern side of India, you can find Rajinikanth posters stuck on almost every auto rickshaws there.
To be open to the readers, I go nostalgic whenever I set my eyes on an auto rickshaw, because they have been banned by the so-called Nepal Government, during early 2000. Its old mode engine had always been a pain in the a** of vehicle regulators, in Nepal.
Along with being the king of street, it was the leader in emitting smoke and carbon. Therefore, there are good reasons for banning such 600 auto rickshaws in Nepal. I have an admiration for their countless and continuous service, that can never die within me. Today, you find only find Safa Tempos (Clean 3 Wheeler) or CNG fueled 3 wheelers, on the Kathmandu street.
What a sad thing!!