Certain autorickshaw phenomena

Some time back, I had read a hilarious piece by Shashank, a friend of mine from the days at BITS, Pilani. The auto-podal-tow phenomena that he describes has to be seen to be believed: an autorickshaw towing another with one of the drivers using his leg as a connection! A good soul captured the moment and licensed it under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic.

It would have been unfortunate to have left a phenomenon as recurrent as the auto-podal-tow without a name. Shashank did his part, and I’ll do mine by documenting two other phenomena that deserve to be “named and conquered”. People who haven’t been on Indian roads will have to get their imaginations working (since I couldn’t find images for them).

First there is, what we’ll call, the autorickshaw-big-v-formation: In a 2-lane road, a bunch of auto-rickshaws (usually three to five in number) do a V-formation that’s impossible for anything but a motor-bike/scooter to breach. While the V-formation is the most commonly sighted one, other tactical formations are also deployed to advantage.

Second, there’s a phenomenon known as differential-velocity-autorickshaw-overtake-maneuver. To a casual observer it would appear that two or three autorickshaws are engaging in a line-abreast formation; but in all probability, something more subtle is under way. What’s really happening is that one of the autorickshaws is running just a little bit faster than the one alongside it (any non-zero $\delta$, no matter how small, would be sufficient for our purpose); and the $\delta$-faster autorickshaw is doing the only reasonable thing to under such circumstances — overtake the slower one. The phenomenon usually lasts for a good one-two minutes before the “formation” is broken.

3 thoughts on “Certain autorickshaw phenomena”

1. Maharaj

:) First of all, welcome to the blogosphere.
Fascinating isnt it…the possibilities with the rickshaw. one day i hope to understand it all by actually driving one across the country…

2. Ashutosh Post author

Indeed, Maharaj! Just when all’s normal on the road, out comes an autorickshaw trick to take you by surprise. For instance, my dad pointed out that I could document another unique phenomenon, the autorickshaw-road-rash-kick-maneuver. Imagine you’re driving alongside an autorickshaw (for more effect, imagine you’re on a motorcycle) and you see the driver suddenly sticking out his feet, almost trying to reach you. In that tense moment, scenes from the game road rash flash in front of your eyes — you recall that the idea there was to kick the other road rasher out of the way with your feet; but in your case, the only person next to the autorick is you! Don’t panic! He’s just signaling a turn.