First published in The Islamabad Dateline on 22nd June, 2011
Islamabad is just perfect, except that it does not have rickshaws. For the rest of Pakistan rickshaws remain to be the most popular means of transportation.
The exuberance and joy of a topsy turvy ride aside, one is most intrigued by ‘rickshaw art’ which gives a blunt insight into what a common man of Pakistan really thinks.
Rickshaws are usually decorated from bumper to bell. The front end is religious while the backboard serves as the focal point of more broad based artistry like rural scenes, animals, flowers, pictures of inspirational leaders, monuments, religious symbols and poetry.
The final look of rickshaw varies as per taste of the owner. The most important aspect of the rickshaw art is perhaps the poetry written on it. Some verses and quotations written on the back of these fast moving-three wheeler vehicles are collected below:
• Maalik Ki Gaadi Driver Ka Paseena – Chalti Hai Road Par Ban Kar Haseena
• Buri Nazar Wale, Tera Moonh Kala
• Qismat Aazma Chuka, Muqadar Aazma Raha Hoon – Aik Bewafa Ki Khatir Riksha Chala Raha Hoon
• Kabhee Side Say Aatee Ho Kabhee Peechay Se Aatee Ho – Meree Jaan Horn Day Day Kar Mujhay Tum Kyon Satatae Ho
• Pappu Yaar Tang Na Ker!
• Zehreeli Nagan
• Koi Jal Gaya, Kisi Nain Dua Di
• Main Phir Aaon Ga
• Tappar Hai To Paar Kar Warna Bardaasht Kar
• Dekh Magar Pyar Se!
• Khatharnaak Rambo
• Horn Day Ker Paas Kerain
• Chal Dhanno
• Phir Milayngay
• Akhri Shahzada
• Tera Jadoo Chal Gya
• Hosh Ker Kherghosh
• Wo Dekho Mastani Ja Rahi Hai
• Zid Meri Majboori hai
• Ae Eagle tujhay qasam hai himmat na harna, jaisi bhi fizaen aen hans k fly karna.
• Zindagi ne aik baar phir dulha bana dia
• Aag aggay waikh pichaay na waikh
• Palat kar daikh zalim tamana hum bhi rakhtay hain.
• Fasla rakh warna mohabbat hojaegi
• Shikar karma hai to ankhon se kar, talwar mein kia rakha hai-safar karma hy to rickshaw mein kar car mein kia rakha hai.
• Chalay jasso ya chhor avan
• Zid na kar sonhaya main aap bara ziddi aan
• Bismillah Parr Kar Swar Hoon Shaid Yeh Aap Ki Zindgi Ka Akhri Safar Ho
• Model 2010 Raftaar 65 KM Fee Ghantta
• Tu Lang Ja Saddi Khair Ey
While some are just plain humorous others are overwhelmingly political and sarcastic:
Cantt say guzartay huway horn ahista bajaen, Pak Fouj soh rahi hai
Roti 2 Rs. CNG 100 Rs – Khadim e Ala, day zara jawab!
“Agar Rabb ne Chaaha to manzil tak pohancha doonga, aur agar aankh lag gai tou Rabb se hee milwa doonga”
• Sawari labbay na labbay, Speed aik so nabbay (190)
• Jis ne Maan ko Sataya Uss ne rikshaw chalaya
• Chal Pagli Sajan Ke Dais
• Lag jai te Rozi na lagaay too Roza
• ”Teri Yad Aie Teray Janay Ky Baad”
• ” Pak Foj Ko Salam”
• ”Mint Di Fursat Nai Dheelay Di Amdan Nai”
• ” Kharchay Malkan de Nakhray Lokan Dy”
• “Dollar Ki Talash Mein”
• “Haseenon Sy Nafrat Piyar Sy Toba”
• ” Baba Easy Load Ghawari” (Pushto)
• ”Baba Pa Khafa Ki Ghi” (Pushto)
• ” Zid Na Kur Sohneya Time Sadi Majboori Aye”
• ”Jeenay Nai Doon Ga”
And while truck art is entertaining, sometimes it lends out an honest advice as well:
• Aye admi haram khana chor dey
tyre mehngay hain race lagana chor dey
• Mera sheher, Mansehra
• Afridi Tayyara
• Kabhi to aao na Sargodha, surmaa laga ke
• Pakhtunkhwa Khappay Khappay Khappay!
But if I were to compare rickshaw ramblings to truck quotes, one notion that becomes distinctly clear is that the truck drivers are mostly a ‘heart-broken’ lot with their poetry divulging into melancholic seriousness. Ata Ullah Esa Khelvi, who is famous for his sad numbers is a favourite of truck drivers and is played from Karachi to Khyber. He doesn’t enjoy the same support from rickshaw-drivers community who are more into Abrar Ul Haq and the likes.
If you want to learn about what Pakistan is all about, ride a rickshaw during rush hours through busy streets and markets but don’t forget to talk to the driver about anything on your mind and get a reflection from the back end of his ride. And yes, one more thing, never tell him to drive fast.