City Life – Glorified Golf Carts, Around Town
The New York Times on Delhi autos
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s like Edward Said’s Orientalism, part two, and it tickles. Until now they were only after our pet snakes and harem women. Now they are also reinterpreting for us our humble autos, aka auto rickshaws, aka thuk thuks.
In April 2015, the venerable New York Times dismissed our green Delhi auto as a mere golf cart. In a business page story titled, Uber Adds a Low-Tech Twist to Its Modern Business Model in India, the Gray Lady said:
NEW DELHI — Auto rickshaws are the mangy donkeys of Delhi transport, glorified golf carts that are a cheaper open-air alternative to taxis, and whose drivers enthusiastically embrace Delhi’s perpetual, honking traffic chaos.
Some of the green-and-yellow “autos” come equipped with speakers in the back that blare Bollywood hits. Many drivers will allow more than the legal maximum of three riders, leaving some passengers clinging to the sides of the vehicles. Few use their meters without a fight.
Now Uber, the app-based car service that made its name matching technology with luxury, is trying to expand its ultramodern business model from cars to Delhi’s auto rickshaws, which are the definition of retrograde.
The Delhi Walla will not crib about our esteemed autos being compared to mangy donkeys (such sweet beings) but let it be said that it is quite common to hear the women and men of the Times in New York and elsewhere speak of changing the syncreticethographicpshysiologicalfreudian contorurs of the post-colonised, as if touchable and untouchable societies and myriad peoples and their imperfect autos can be shaken up like so many peanuts in a jar. Here’s bottoms up to the running turkeys of American everythingism.
Golf cart, eh?