Sumary of Portraits of Kolkata’s Rickshaw Pullers:
- The saris, the sounds of the Bengali language, the smells of the spice markets, the thick monsoon air: All of it contributed to my sense of disorientation in this dense, river delta city of more than 14 million residents.
- Their clientele consists mainly of local Kolkatans: shoppers coming to and from markets, or residents transiting the city’s narrow side streets.
- And when monsoon rains fall, usually between May and September, rickshaws — pulled through waist-deep water — can provide transportation to places that motorized vehicles cannot reach.
- )Over the years, human rights groups and governing authorities have tried to curb the use of hand-pulled rickshaws, which some see as a degrading colonial anachronism.
- Local authorities officially banned the vehicles in 2006 and have stopped issuing or renewing licenses, while promising that the government would offer training for alternative livelihoods.