There are many small delights for me in this great country and one of them is riding in a ubiquitous tuk-tuk. Small and breezy, their easy availability and low cost means that a short ride is a pleasant if rather noisy experience.
I went for a morning walk in the Juhu Beach district, which is where my hotel is located, and after about two kilometers in the heat decided I’d had enough exercise and hailed a tuk-tuk for a ride to the Santa Cruz railway station a few more kilometers away. The cost for the ride was only about thirty cents. The taxi ride back by comparison was a beastly dollar. Although where in the U.S. could you ride for a few miles in a taxi for that price?
The tuk-tuk is a small two or perhaps three passenger, three-wheel contrivance power by a small two-stroke engine and driven up in front with motorcycle handlebars. In Mumbai all taxis and tuk-tuks are powered by CNG so the pollution is nearly nonexistent.
That is not to say that there is no pollution since the main item of safety in Mumbai and elsewhere is the horn. And the horns do blow constantly; sometime I think it is a recreational activity. The brakes are another safety item in this madness of traffic where marked lanes means nothing at all. Cars, tuk-tuk, bicycles, motorcycles fit in wherever they can. “Tailgating” is a word unknown here. There was a sign on the causeway that said, “Lane Driving = Safe Driving”.
Overall, once the fear of immediate death has passed, riding in these remarkable machines is a pleasure. I learned on the Great Interweb that someone is actually importing them to the U.S.A. which means that they will now have to comply with our safety regulations. It would certainly be fun to own one.
Safe travels everyone.