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Thank You Madam Ambassador in the auto rickshaw

It takes a little more than grit and determination to commute only in an auto rickshaw when braving Delhi’s winters and summers. The capital lives and breathes through multiple vehicle-related problems each day. Which vehicles can and can’t be sold, which cars can be used on which day of a week, safety for women commuters, last mile connectivity, congested metros, road fatalities, and city pollution levels.

While public transport can make even the brave quiver, the Mexican Ambassador isn’t one to shy away from making the opportunity count. In simple words, ‘Millions of Indians use an autorickshaw, why wouldn’t an Ambassador!’ Of course, you could come up with a million reasons to counter her, but she’s not the one to be deterred. She went ahead and bought a TVS auto rickshaw powered by CNG, which is environment friendly.

Melba Pria’s decision to use an auto rickshaw surprised most folk at the office. Having been a traveller in India earlier, she’s familiar with the auto rickshaw / tuktuk. Since auto rickshaws are commercial use vehicles, buying them for personal use can be a tad bit tricky so the Ministry of External Affairs sorted permissions with an undertaking that the vehicle isn’t going to be used for commercial purposes. Having heard a Mexican artist talk about how to intervene, murals and street art, it was decided the vehicle would make a great moving platform for Mexican street art, and so, it wears its motifs proud.

A current employee who has driver duties thrice a week has been at the embassy since 2003. The idea of introducing an auto rickshaw wasn’t too welcome at the beginning considering none of the drivers had rickshaw driving experience and had to learn to do so. The status that comes with driving a limo for an important embassy diplomat took a beating too. The hesitation was short-lived. He now enjoys driving the rickshaw.

There’s been a few hiccups as far as the diplomatic rickshaw rides are concerned. Three wheelers aren’t permitted when visiting the Parliament, and so, no amount of negotiation could overturn that. The common commuter vehicle isn’t too welcome at a number of 5 stars. The limitations didn’t act as a deterrent. The Mexican Ambassador’s vehicle gets much appreciation and praise from those who see it. The MEA while surprised at the choice of vehicle does take pride in the auto rickshaw’s new found and limited status as an official embassy car.

Taking her values and belief systems along, she speaks of starting somewhere. The use of an auto leaves her dealing with pollution on a daily basis like millions of other Delhiites. The ubiquitous three-wheeler is a friendly commuter choice that is much needed in Delhi, so why not use the ubiquitous three-wheeler?


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