Inspired by Dr. Adil Najam’s old blog All Things Pakistan, I decided to make my own contribution to describing some of the unique aspects of Pakistan and Pakistaniat. However, I ran into a problem. What is the most unique aspect of Pakistan? Well, at first I thought about the things I like about Pakistan. These include the Pakistani culture, prestigious Pakistani institutions like LUMS, NUST etc., the LUMS Olympiad, Pakistani schools, Pakistani students, the Pakistani Army, the Pakistani Air-force, the Pakistani Atomic Energy Commission, the Pakistani cricket team, Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, Dr. Abdus Salam, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Javed Miandad and the various other Pakistanis who’ve made us proud. However, I was not particularly inclined to write about any of these great people and organizations. So, I tried the opposite tact. I thought of the things I hate about Pakistan. Well, there was Agha Waqar, load-shedding, corruption, the Taliban, terrorism, sectarian terrorism, broken roads, Rehman Malik etc. What else did I hate? And then I finally hit upon it… the Rickshay Walas.
The Rickshay Walas aren’t just unique, they’re legendary! Their disregard for traffic rules, their epic turns, their bizarre stunts and their sky-rocketing charges make them a force to be reckoned with. The most astounding thing about Rickshaws is their tendency to do things that defy both classical and modern Physics. There are three cases where the laws of classical Physics break down, a big-bang, a black hole and a Rickshaw. They should make “Need for Speed: Rickshaw Edition”. Seriously, I’ve seen Rickshaws going faster than the speed of light. Take that, CERN!
It isn’t just the stunts that make-up the legendary Rickshay Wala. A true Rickshay Wala should also have catastrophic driving skills. By “catastrophic”, I don’t mean those ordinary mistakes people do such as driving in the opposite directing on a one-way road or overtaking someone without flashing an indicator. In order to become a Rickshay Wala, one has to do something really catastrophic, something that will not only affect you, but will ensure that everyone in a 50 km radius stays jammed in traffic for the next two hours. Examples include parking your rickshaw in the middle of the road in order to go out and greet a friend you saw walking on the foot-path, not looking at the traffic signals and colliding head-on with the on-coming traffic, and trying to drive through the middle of two cars with less than one inch of free space between them, hitting both cars as a result. It is things like this that distinguish an ordinary driver from a Rickshay Wala.
Another commendable quality of a Rickshay Wala is the ability to feel completely at home on a busy road. This is especially useful when arguing after an accident. I’ve seen cases where Rickshay Walas have won a road-side argument, even when the accident was clearly their fault, just because the other person was too tired to continue arguing.
Perhaps one of the best things about a rickshaw is the great literary and artistic work printed at its back. The exquisite language and unique style surpasses even Homer and Shakespeare. Forget about universities and libraries. The next time I want to read quality literature and poetry, I’ll drive behind a rickshaw. In my opinion, one should automatically be awarded a PhD. in literature after reading things written on the back of more than 20 Rickshaws.