Kings of the Roads - The Trishaws of Lanka
You see them in the hills, at the beach, in towns - lurking in alleys, and the streets that we grew up in; they are omnipresent and impossible to ignore - the nasal, sharp call penetrates the air and the vivid range of colours (green, blue, red, tan, and in some cases black, white, and multicolour) are pleasure and pain to the eye at the same time. In case you haven`t guessed it yet - it is the Sri Lankan three-wheeler; the loud phantom of the streets, the transporter of the masses, that we shall speak of today.br>
The Sri Lankan three-wheeler (tuk tuk, trishaw) is as much a part of local nature as any tree or animal. The high pitched, rumbling whistle as it shot past you, was first introduced to Sri Lanka in 1978 by the David Peiris Motor Company with David Pieris himself driving the first three-wheeler in order to show customer how this strange new machine worked. Since then the popularity of this mode of transportation has risen to epic proportions - with over 900,000 (according to economynext.com) registered.
Although Three wheelers are manufactured en masse, the customers have found a multitude of interesting ways to customize and make them unique, colourful paint jobs, interesting horns, spoilers, mufflers and off-road tires - the owners of this vehicle have found ways to make things uniquely Sri Lankan. When travelling the streets, you`ll find that many of the three wheelers carry stickers with often deep meaningful quotes on life mostly in Sinhalese, such as (translated) Your jealousy is our success, and Did you forget how you used to be with me? But perhaps the most baffling, the writer thinks, is written in English and goes as such - Who flies not high, falls not low- trying to decrypt this message has taken some time but it's easy to suppose the quote has something to do with the tale of Icarus.
Many companies and businesses also use three wheelers for transportation of manpower and goods - upgraded with flatbeds and cages such as the ones used by Fedex and UPS. Perhaps the most loved version of the three-wheeler is driven by the neighbourhood bread man - at first you here the melodious tune of Beethoven`s classic Fur Elsie, and as the breadman rolls by each house the tenants emerge from their sleep on to the street to buy bread, pastries and all manner of local savouries and sweets.
The three-wheeler of Sri Lanka is a desirable employment oppurtunity for many of its people. Hives (they really do resemble a hive of insects (Locusts maybe)) of them pass through every main and by-road honking their horns and watching them recite poetry at other drivers who inconvenience them is a sight to behold - it has the power to annoy and bemuse at the same time.
The trishaw (as it called in Lanka - A shoot off of rickshaw) is a sturdy paragon of Sri Lanka, although brought in recently it has become a preferred choice of transport for many Sri Lankans due to its economy and availability, and a ride through the roads on this vehicle is probably one of the most amusing things to do.
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