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The Rickshaw Run

April 3, 2013

Is it being needy, as a grown up woman closer to 40 than any other round number (ouch – that looks mean in print) to go up to a complete stranger and say “Please will you be my friend?”.  Probably a bit, isn’t it.  And ever so slightly ‘8-years-old-in-the-playground’.  And requiring a complete lack of pride.  And yet, that was me, yesterday.  H’s best friends are leaving and have, in fact, left, to go back to the UK for a bit before relocating completely in the summer and it’s left H feeling very sad, and me feeling a bit inadequate – I’m just not quite as good at playing with sticks as H’s friends and I have a much, much shorter boredom threshold for pretending I’m a crocodile. 

 So imagine my joy when I went to a ‘mums and tots’ group and there were two brothers, just H’s age and a little bit older and they all got on really well.  Swallowing any miniscule amount of pride I might have ever had (it’s definitely diminished as my children have grown) I foisted myself upon their mother and demanded that she like me; and I’m very happy to say that she didn’t run for the hills screaming ‘Get the weirdo off me’ but instead gave me her phone number which even works.  Our little chaps are meeting up to play again this week.  It’s all going well.

 This weekend we headed to the neighbouring city to Islamabad which is called Rawalpindi, or ‘Pindi’ to those in the know (everybody).  It’s only a short drive, but whereas Islamabad is clean with wide, tree-lined avenues and beautiful shops, Pindi is much more as you’d imagine a Pakistani city – chaotic and full of traffic with tiny shops selling all manner of things.  Our friends live there and suggested that we get a rickshaw to the central market.  Rickshaws are banned in Slammers and they definitely add to the chaos, but are very cool.  Imagine a tiny ride-on lawn mower with a small bench on the back, covered in a sheet of aluminium.  That’s your basic rickshaw, and they’re all basic.

 The journey to the market was uneventful, after I’d managed to negotiate my way onto the back bench which was less than easy with chubby J in a baby carrier strapped to my front.  However I managed it, whilst keeping the baby intact – no mean feat.  On the way back we split into 2 groups – J and I, my friend and her little son got into one rickshaw and our husbands and H got into a second.  We were to meet back at her house.  And so we set off.

 We hadn’t gone far before our driver pulled into the side of the road and disappeared.  We sat there for a few minutes and then he appeared, dragging a small boy in school uniform after him. We then set off again.  A few minutes down the road, he stopped again, disappeared and this time he came back with 3 more children.  We now had 2 in the back with us and there was 1 hanging off each side at the front.  When he stopped for a third time, my friend decided to intervene and, speaking urdu, asked just what he was doing.  Yes, you guessed it, our rickshaw was the school bus and we were on the school run.  As another child clambered into the back with us my friend decided to play her trump card and asked if he’d mind taking us back to her house directly because our husbands would be worried about us.  That seemed to work and so we proceeded (rather slowly) back to the house.  When we pulled up we saw our husbands and H all standing in the drive looking anxious.  Their faces were a picture though as they saw 5 children pile out of the rickshaw, slowly followed by me, J, my friend and her son unfolding ourselves. 

On the way home the rain started, and then the hail caught it up.  It may be 20 degrees here on a rainy day, but that doesn’t stop the hail from getting in on the act.  The road back from Pindi takes you on a bridge over a large motorway and as we drove we saw the traffic backed up in the direction towards the bridge.  A little further on we saw why, as all the motorbikes for miles around had just decided to stop under the bridge to shelter from the hail (they don’t wear helmets here).  A practical answer to a cold and wet problem, even if the chap in the car stuck in a traffic jam a mile back might not agree.


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One Comment
  1. abbeyjones permalink

    This is great! I’d love to be on the school bus rickshaw!


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