The Original Convertible !

Some of us are born with heavenly blessings. I read about Jawaharlal Nehru going to college in swank luxury. But then, he didn’t go to school in a convertible. Well, what is a convertible ? ( Wikipedia defines...“A convertible is a type of automobile in which the roof can retract and fold away, converting it from an enclosed to an open-air vehicle”. )

An original convertible. How many of you have gone to school in one? My chest swells many inches. For i have !

In convertible like this.

The cycle – rickshaw as it is called it is a simple contraption of some metal framework at the base, a good hard seat with some cushion topping, a pedal, a chain that hauls, a cycle bell (that has been replaced by a circus hooter these days), a sheet of hybrid material for the roof. With a peep window at the rear !

Now, throw in some good calf muscles and some resounding attitude : That is a guarantee of a good ride !

For a few years, we went to school in one. And then, the school buses made an appearance and we graduated to motor transport. Arumugam, our rickshaw man was one heck of a puny man with bones all over the the body ! Except his calf. In his calf, he had SOME muscles !

I haven’t been in a rickshaw for a long time now. There is a discomfort in the mind, to sit on the energy and physical effort of another man. That apart, wonder at this contraption of sorts hasn’t ceased !

Of all the parts in the rickshaw, the most important was the seat ! That completely removable seat ! The rickshaw pullers used to guard it with all their lives. Creditors, policemen, rivals all used to take / steal the seat away when there was some issue at hand !

The hood will come down at times, when us children would pester to get a feel of the open air and sunlight ! Those were carefree days ! And we suddenly would feel like tourists of some sort. To go in an open rickshaw !

I saw rickshaws again. Last week. They still seem to be doing the rounds. And pretty well too. And here is the artistic part to the rickshaw. The rear still gives way for some form of art. A painting. An inscription. Something like that. Hold your breath : No product advertising !

On this Rikshaw there is Karunanidhi, Muthuramalinga Thevar and Rajinikant. The first man is the chief minister. So. Muthuramalinga Thevar is quite famous too.

And then, there is Rajinikant. Well, what is Tamil Nadu without him !!!!

I seek to draw your attention to the ‘ears’ of the rickshaw. Those artistic shapes ( in blue here) protruding on to the sides. Well, that’s where my school bags, with all their loads of books, report cards used to hang. On the way, to and from school.

My educational foundations always hung in the balance drawing in all the air !! (Now you know me….!)

Many years later when i went to a another school and discussions used to surface about convertibles & wealthy classmates used to state that owning a fancy convertible was their ultimate dream.

It was there that i wondered, what all the fuzz was about. After all, i went to junior school in one !

17 thoughts on “The Original Convertible !

  1. Kavi,

    Really enjoyed this post, and the fabulous pictures. I have gone to school by now, on 2, 3, 4 and more-wheelers, and I dont think those B-school-hankered -convertibles can match up to them anyway….

    I mean how many suited executive types in convertibles would enjoy being splashed with mud in the monsoon, as a bus overtook your “convertible”…?

    Someone needs to do a song called Zinadabaad ?

  2. ME, ME, ME too!! In fact, I guess, most children in Kolkata and Bengal are ‘converted’ to this mode of transport. In fact, I am proud to declare that Kolkata has two varities of this convertible – one being the cycle-rikshaw and the other being the man-pulled-rikshaw (check out Om Puri in The City of Joy).
    Of course, Rajnikant was replaced by Amitabh Bachchan.

  3. ashok says:

    good post…Me & my brother went to school in our own private rickshaw with personal ‘driver’ 🙂 good old days!!!

  4. I am emotional when I read post.

  5. hahah!! This is called reverse snobbery!! Real good one! I like your imagination!

  6. amreekandesi says:

    Nice post! You brought back some old memories!

    Also you will be surprised to know that they have rikshaws in Newyork. They are called ‘bicycle cabs’ here!

  7. nsiyer says:

    Good one and thank for kindling nostalgia. I have travelled in this covertible both in Chennai and Cuddalore. I also felt gulity. My children went to school in this convertible and they had a nice guy called Mayavan who took them. Is it maya van -AGAIN MAYA AND HIS VAN.
    Great Kavi!

  8. KK says:

    You brought some fond memories of my school days by this post…

    //There is a discomfort in the mind, to sit on the energy and physical effort of another man.//
    I too havent travelled in a cycle rickshaw for some time now, for the same reason. I feel very guilty… so I take up walking instead of taking a cycle rickshaw.

  9. ♥ Braja says:

    I love this post; India wouldn’t be India without its convertibles 🙂

  10. I used to walk to school, which was really really close. I know it sounds boring but trust me, it turned out to a reservoir of ideas for my upcoming novels. Gotcha:)

  11. newspaanai says:

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  12. Cris says:

    Lucky you! I dont think I have even seen one outside movies!

  13. SGD says:

    Loved the line…”..educational foundations always hung in the balance drawing in all the air “!!
    And as Sucharita says, we the kolkatans, spent lot of our commuting time on these convertibles!

  14. gauri says:

    You know, I’ve never been in one 🙁 I’d love to someday, if it’s not manned by someone aged. There’s so much charm to it!

    Loved the post! 🙂


  15. Sajan says:

    You hit the rewind button again. Felt nice reading it. Wonderful article.
    – another ‘original convertible’ lover

  16. Kavi says:

    Ugich : You bet ! Those days of monsoon drenched childhood with mud and tinges of blue rain are impermeable in the mind !

    Sucharita : We dont have the hand pulled one. Our strength lies in our legs ! The hands are for doing other stuff ! 🙂

    And Amitabh Bachan in Kokatta ! We have our own man ! How much more wicked can i get !?!

    Ashok : A private chauffeur driver convertible. And a orginal one at that. You seem to have been born with a silver mine in the backyard

    Hobo : But why…!?!

    Roshini : Thank you !!

    Amreekandesi : Really !? Newyork. Wallstreet ? They may begin to put it to mainstream use soon !

    NS IYer : Sir…Maya Van was atrociously amazing ! Thanks !

    KK : too. I too prefer walking..! And then, somebody told me to remember that my riding will help a livelihood ! But i am still not convinced.

    Braja : You bet !

    Naperville Mom : Hmm ! Upcoming novels. Now, i am beginning to envy you..! 🙂

    cris : really ? I thought Trivandrum had them too…seems otherwise..

    SGD : Thank you ! And that education hung outside !! 😉

    Gauri : There is charm. And there is a certain air !! 😉

    Thank you !

    Sajan : Thanks ! And amazing pics buddy !

  17. Jeevan says:

    Yes, I have gone. But not to school, as it was cheapest than autos our grandma prefers to take us in rickshaw to near places and climbing on is one heck I experienced. It wonders how well the man power petal with bunch of children, with additional board to carry unlimited.

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