Meter Down: The Rickshawalas of Bombay


Everything about Mumbai is so unique. From the people to the places, it is all so typically Mumbaiiya. For instance, the rickshawalas of Mumbai: they are a peculiar kind of species found only on the streets of Mumbai. They are everywhere, and they appear from nowhere. Yet, it is so hard to get into one of their rides. Here, we break down the rickshawala code that has been haunting the city’s streets for decades. You know you’re from Mumbai if you have experienced at least one if not all of these “types” of rickshaw rides, and also if you’ve called out “rickshawww..” only a thousand times already!

Chal, Dhanno! 

You know the positive aphorism that if you want to get somewhere; the universal forces will conspire to take you there. Well, that clearly does not work in the case of Mumbai rickshaws. The urgency of reaching a destination is directly proportional to how slow the driver is. The ‘chal dhanno’ man will ride at the speed of a snail, in spite of constant reminders of how late you’re getting. You could walk and reach faster, really. But you give in anyway. It’s happened to you, hasn’t it?

Neverland Man

Andheri? NO. Bandra? NO. Borivali? NO. Santacruz? NO. Dubai?! NO. The ultimate rickshawalla trait: the power of saying no. The only way to get them to say yes: stab them and ride the rick yourself.

Slumdog Millionaire

He has probably more money in his pocket than your bank account thanks to the “chhuta nahi hai” (don’t have change) theory. Whether you give him hundred, a ten or a five hundred, he will never have change nor will he move a limb to get it for you. You will have to let it go. So you helped someone become a slumdog millionaire. You did good. Be proud. NOT.

Schumacher’s Elder Bro

This one’s a sworn enemy of the ‘chal dhanno’ man. He will zoom through the narrowest of lanes, try to overtake Jaguars, jump over potholes and probably give you Spondylitis by the end of your journey. God bless you if you get into one of these.

Jeepers Creepers

For such men, rear view mirrors were not made to see the traffic; they were made to look at their passengers. Creepy much?

The Reporter

If you haven’t watched the morning news, how about meeting the reporter rickshawala. He will talk nonstop and give you all the latest goss – from politics to Saifeena’s (Saif and Kareena) next holiday. Trust me, he knows it all.


He’s your new Best Friend Forever. He loves to talk and listen, and you have to hear the poor guy out. I mean, how can his landlord ask him to pay rent in advance? That’s just cruel.

Disco Dancer

He has his earphones on, the music’s pumping and you don’t exist. He’d rather stick Kareena’s photo with a Fevicol on his auto than care for your life. 

While our trusted rickshawalas will take us home safe, it’s always better to be precautious. Always try to mentally note down the rickshaw number before getting into one, especially if it’s late at night. Look confident of where you’re going even if you’re not sure of the way. Keep a phone handy at all times.

Safe Journey!

- Sneha Mankani

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