Monday, 8 March 2010

Day 131-133-Our Gondola, The Trishaw

This is a trishaw, aka the gondola of Singapore. It's predecessor is a rickshaw, which is hand pulled.Invented in the late 19th century by the Japanese, the Chinese imported the rickshaws from them and in turn exported them to India when they started trading.

Some say Kolkata is the last city on earth to still use enormous Chinese-style rickshaws pulled by men on foot. An attempt to ban this rickshaw in 2006 was met with such fierce protest by irate wallahs (rickshaw pullers) that today, at least 18000 of them are still pulling these heavy rickshaws for a living.

My Hassan was one such wallah. A poor man, Hassan had travelled to the city from his village to look for a job. With little employment opportunities, pulling a rickshaw was the natural choice. It was after all, the first job for most peasants migrating to the city.

Now Hassan may have little education but he is no simpleton. He reads widely and is extremely creative. It was in 1900 that Hassan saw a tricycle for the first time in his life. This was the year The English Cycle Importing Company of 23 Broadway, Madras, started selling bicycles and tricycles from Rover, Raleigh, Singer (you thought they only do sewing machines? Different Singer) and many others.

It didn't take Hassan long to put two and one (wheels, that is) together and voila, the "tri-shaw" was born.

You can see how Hassan's "tri-shaw", (years to come, it will be more popularly known as the "cycle rickshaw" in India), is much improved over the wooden wheeled hand pulled rickshaw which weigh a ton, even when empty. It is also more dignified for the wallah to be providing his service by riding side by side his passenger rather than pulling from beneath.

Now if you are wondering why our dear wallah parked his trishaw in a handicapped lot, that is not a "handicap person" sign! It is a vintage drawing of a passenger in a rickshaw, as Hassan will have you know.

And here he is now, pre-dawn, making sure no constables are around.

After carefully placing a beautiful rug weaved by his loving wife in the trishaw, Hassan is ready to set off to meet his 1st customer for the day.

Ooh, that unruly beard (made with real doll's hair). If only Hassan spends half as much time grooming as he spends on his trishaw, he will be quite a handsome devil. Not that he cares.

Here is Hassan making a u-turn

Stopping 10 minutes later to check on his trishaw.

New Under-Cover and Blue Silk Seat- checked

Freshly painted motifs-checked

Trimmings up,

Trimmings down, checked, checked!

Adverts, huh, you said. If you think about it, what better media to place an advertisement than on the back of a travelling vehicle? That's exactly what clever Hassan thought and he managed to persuade his 1st patron too by offering free service for a month.

But what Hassan is most proud of is the silver bell he made for his ride . "Inspired" by the "the Peerless Bells" when he chanced upon the design, he had memorised the details and faithfully reverse engineered his own.

If you click through the picture, you will see where the design can be found.And specially for you Rosanna, there is something there you are bound to like.

TODAY is Hassan's lucky day! A really beautiful woman has just finished marketing and was standing at the corner, with her baskets on the floor, looking a little flustered.

Have you been waiting for me, my fair lady? Hassan said.
Now, let me help you with your burden while you step up to my carriage.
The fair lady smiled and settled comfortably.

Now which way, my lady?
The other way, sir, but the sign says "One Way" only?

Don't worry, my fair lady, signs don't mean anything here.
The lady laughed.

And so they ride and chatted and laughed some more and when the trishaw hit a bump, Hassan put up his hand to prevent the lady from falling over. The lady was completely charmed.

You are a perfect gentlemen. By the way, my name is Suri.
And I am Hassan. But don't you go fancying me now, I am a happily married man.
And I am a perfectly happy housewife.
But if you have a daughter, my son will marry her. I send most of my money home so our son can have a proper education and become someone useful.
And if your son is as diligent, clever and chivalrous as you are, my daughter will marry him.
Hassan let out such a hearty laugh, half the town can hear him booming.

They were so engrossed in their conversation that Hassan just noticed he had taken a wrong turn. O my, this must be the Street with Too Many Signs, Hassan remarked confusedly, whereupon both of them erupted into laughter again.

20 years later

And here is Hassan junior with Suri d/o (daughter of) Suri. The "street" with too many signs has since been converted into a park. Hassan is now a teacher and the newly weds are visiting the spot where their betrothal was first discussed. Laughing frequently as they recounted to each other, for the 100th time, the conversations their parents had.

Are they not a spitting image of their respective parent?

Cycle rickshaws in Dhaka, today.

PS On the day I posted about Venice, dear sweet MarG gave me the trishaw shown at pic 3 above as a thank-you for borrowing a teeny part of my bazaar scene for a secret project. I don't know anything about the secret of course, but this post and everything made for it, is done in tribute to her project and to all the wallahs in the world.

And if you have guessed that my Hassan and Suri were made after much hacking and sawing the dolls in the last pic, you are right. Don't worry, Hassan Junior and Suri d/o Suri are still in 1 piece.


Lize said...

Oh Sans, you have me in stitches! I was laughing so hard!!! I am so glad things turned out so well for Hassan's son (He looks like a Greek God, my goodness: very handsome fellow with such humble beginnings!) and Suri's daughter (is surely a Bollywood Superstar?)

I am most impressed with that Add (Aka Harrods' style!) I do hope it had the desired effect and won you MANY customer with fat purses?

Oh and a swell Tri-shaw it is, definitely by a renowned tri-shaw maker? I can see the hand of an expert! And that bell! I can hear it 'ringing' in the busy traffic to make way ... going the OTHER WAY down the ONE way!

Thank YOU for making MY day!

rosanna said...

Hi Sans, I was longing for a post of yours, I switched on the pc and here you are! I have loved every single word and pic! (obviously I fell for the teapotty bell)
The story is so good even though I do not agree much with engagement premade by parents. But you know that. Anyway I shall grant to you that they are a gorgeous couple and Hassan senior has been a very thoughfull dad allowing his son to have an education.Are there any real trishaw in Singapore?
I shall accertain it. Hugs and thank you Rosanna

Susanne said...

Amazing work you have been doing. I always..impressed by it. And I love the story too ;-0)

Gemma (Gempo) said...

I loved your gondola of Singapore, perfect. Tks for your coment in my blog. Best wishes

Tallulah Belle said...

It is perfect Susan...I love what you did to it.

I had a Raleigh bike and a bell but not as posh as that one.

p.s The PV can't go in your will be about 10 feet long lol.

Tallulah Belle said...

Oh p.p.s...did you know Elle Decor have a new issue that concentrates purely on Indian decor.....I'd love to get my hands on one.

Snowfern said...

*chuckles* oh Sans, you're back with yet another doozy of a post! i luvs it!!! XD esp the part about the not-handicapped-parking sign haha hahahahahaha oh dang you got me started again... many secrets floating around huh!!! i shall wait for the grand reveal ^ ^

Sans said...

No, no, no, Lize, YOU made my day :). Thank you for laughing. :) I was thinking the story may be too long, you know like the Oscar Award Ceremony :) but much as I like short stories, I can't seem to write them that way, at least for Blogging standard. How do people tweet??

I didn't have time to give you the ending. Here it is:

"There is clearly only one way Hassan's trishaw can go- the Road to SUCCESS. With Suri's beauty, the trishaws sold like the hotcakes Suri bakes. You see, with much persuasion, Suri has agreed to model as the passenger in all the advertisements of the trishaws.

On one condition, Suri said, and that is to make me a partner in your venture.
It's a deal, Hassan said, shaking Suri's hand. I will even let you have your name first.

And so, if you ever ride a trishaw from "Su & San" you know who the makers are. And remember, you heard it here first!


Sans said...

Wow, you know Rosanna, I never thought that this may be read as an arranged marriage . Thanks for bringing this up!

In my head, it was a situation where the young Hassan and Suri met separately because Hassan the wallah and the fair lady only met that once, until of course, their children decided to get married. How they came to know about their parents' meeting was the street with too many signs. It's too unusual for anyone to forget.

LOL, this story is turning out to be a historical novel. But problem with "short" blog stories are that they often get confusing. Thank goodness for comment box :).

You can imagine what I said when I found the teapotty bell! "Rosanna!" my head screams :).

Thank you for loving my stories.:)

dora said...

I love as tells stories, fantastic.
The hand car is wonderful. A beautiful. Congratulations as always, enter your blog is assured the smile.
Thanks Susan by pleased many days.
A big hug Carmen

Pubdoll said...

You did it again Sans! This post was great fun and as always lot of interesting history to be learned, I clicked on all the links :-)
The add was hilarious, I think it was very inventive of Hassan! And the Street with Too Many Signs cracked me up, as did the not-handicap sign :-)

A really beautiful gift from MarG!

julie campbell said...

LOL Sans you are so funny ! I have just loved reading this wonderful story, laughing at Hassans story the and admiring your fabulous trishaw too !
julie xxx

sylvia said...

Fabulous Trishaw and great story ( not to long LOL)

Sylvia XX

Sans said...

Ah, forgot to mention, Rosanna that we do still have trishaws in Singapore. They are really like the gondolas in Venice at the moment ;).

Sans said...

Thank you, Suzanne :). Its nice to see you here again :). I read your comments about wires. How about hiding them underneath some creepers? :) I find hiding things I don't want people to notice a very good motivation for being creative, as you probably can tell from my projects, I always have a lot of flaws to hide!

Sans said...

Thank you, Gemma :). Your little Alice in Wonderland scene made me want to watch the movie :).

Sans said...

You know Jayne, I am dying to see an update of your house. I just converted, 10 foot!!!! My plan for the palace is maybe 10 ft high and about 9 ft long. Your PV is going to bigger than my palace. Thought it is just a pub ? lol Has it grown just like my bazaar?I am running out of space for the bazaar. I have a very busy guest room! LOL

You should not have shown me the Elle Decor issue. Now I will hunt high and low for a copy! Kidding, I love it, so thank you and I will hunt high and low for a copy.

Sans said...

O yes,Jayne, watch out for something wild charging into your guest room. Probably the week after!

Tallulah Belle said...

I will post some pics of the house soon. I have a bad shoulder and can't be making flowers at the mo so you'll have to put up with house stuff on my blog :-)

The PV is a pub but originally it was a church which was left to go to ruin then somebody bought it to convert it into a church :-)

So I have to make the church as a church then covert it.

If oyu find that mag online anywhere let me know...I am dying to get a copy.

Something wild...lmao

Sans said...

Carmen, it is always good to see you here! A big bright smile today for you as you have won a giveaway! Congratulations!

Sans said...

Glad you like it, Helene! Wish I had taken better photos though. I have just spent a large part of the day finishing up the dolls. By the time I am ready to take pictures, it was dark. And it wasn't easy getting Hassan off and on the bike! As usual, the story came only after I started to type. Maybe I will change some pics tonight! lol

Sans said...

Cindy, if you want one of those rickshaw signs, you can buy it at Daiso :). And thanks for the new word "doozy"! I have to look it up :):) at urban dictionary. Apparently there are so many meanings attached to it, it ranges from "daunting/difficult" to "bizarre" to "word is like the wild card in UNO, it can mean anything"! hahaha

Peach Blossom Hill said...

Oh, my goodness! I am not as familiar with you and your blog as others and I was reading along and looking at the pix and thought this was a pix of a real tri-shaw and a real man, Hassan! I could not believe that this was your mini creation until the very end! How wonderful and how well done. Thank you for such a wonderful story and a wonderful treat!


Ara said...

Great story, Sans, as usual!!! The "not handicap' sign cracked me up! A cycle rickshaw! I would say that's a good idea until you get to a hill! Ugh - then it might be easier to push! The rickshaw is wonderful and the painting on the side is gorgeous! Love it! hugs, ara

Papillon Bleu said...

LOL!!!This was so funny!
Thank you Sans!

Sans said...

Awww, Julie, thank you!

Ok, I guess this will sound creepy but you were on my mind when I was giving Hassan a make over with the very unruly beard. It was a real mess when I tried to use just! Luckily I just bought some doll's hair from Spotlight.I meant it when I said dolls must be the most difficult thing to make in miniatures. I couldn't handle the hair at all even though it was just glue on his face. How in the world do you guys wig hair or sculpt expressions? lol Hats off to you!

Sans said...

I am so happy you read the story, Sylvia :). If my writing is ever too small, don't forget to press control+. It will make the size of my blog expand and the words much easier to read.

Sans said...

Before I forget, Jayne, from the link you gave me on Elle Decor India edition, you can read parts of the magazines online. Click on the various subject on the right bar. You can also pick many past issues. Amazing colours!

Sans said...

JODY! You have definitely made my day and I don't care that maybe you are the most polite person in the world and say only nice things all the time! LOL

Where the trishaw is concerned, of course, I already had a good base to work with. It is really very well made and all parts that were supposed to move,do move, like the cover, the wheels, the pedals and the handle bars etc. Maybe you can't see it in the 3rd pic but on the floor of the trishaw "cart" there was painted in white, the word "Singapore". I knew I had to give it a makeover if I am to use it. Luckily, the one they use in Dhaka, India is similar in structure to this one.

Hassan had a dandy face. A short cut to making him into a wallah was to give him a beard, thick eye brows and a turban which hid most things. And then after that, take bad pictures in dark setting to mislead people into thinking his real! LOL I have been staring at him, I seriously don't think he look real ! :):):) but thank you, Jody.

Now you, are a master! Thank you for leading me to your blog with your comment here. I love everything I see there so far and will be back often!

Sans said...

Hey Ara, so happy to see you knowing how busy you have been :).

You are absolutely right about going uphill. I took the trishaws very often when I was a child, usually after a trip to the market. Let me tell you, most time, it is not just 1 passenger. There will be a whole family trying to squeeze into the tiny space (I think this trishaw is not to scale cos it couldn't fit the little basket of grains after Suri not to mention a whole family). Usually the rider was a skinny but strong old man struggling. So yes, not easy at all, being a wallah.

Use of trishaws were restricted sometime in the 80s I think. Now only the tourists and only on specific routes like Little India.

Sans said...

O Patricia, thank you for laughing. I am trying to outdo you in "funny" but it's a too tough since you can make movies, you are miles ahead!

dale said...

What a wonderful love story. The pictures capture it so well.

So, that was a handicap sign? (confused)

Your stories always make me smile, Sans. :)

hey, is one of these songs from One Thousand First Dates?

Sans said...

Yes Dale. That sign was meant for handicapped parking :). One can only park in these lots if you have a disabled parking permit and the permit must be displayed prominently. Not anymore in my palace:). Anyhow, there was no such disabled parking practice in the 1800s to early 1900s.

I didn't watch 50 1st date but after googling its soundtrack, "Over The Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'Ole is in there. If you want to see the title of any song, you can click on "menu" of my "player" and it will show the title and the singer.

dale said...

Thanks, Sans. :)

I should have googled. ;)

Liberty Biberty said...

Love the tri-shaw and the signs and most of all your truly wonderful story! I shall now go to sleep smiling!

Sans said...

Sweet dreams, Mercedes :). And if you hear ringing, don't bother waking up. It's just Hassan and "the peerless bell" !

Jean Day said...

Have you seen the movie Amal about the humble New Delhi rickshaw driver, it was so beautiful, your story really reminded me of it. He was so happy with his job, it was so inspiring. Lovely trishaw, so many great details, loved the woven carpet by his wife. You tell the best stories, always such a pleasure reading your blogs, so beautiful too.

Sans said...

Thank you so much Jean for letting me know about the movie. I am trotting down to Mustapha this weekend to see if I can find this movie :). Just read a review and I am already loving the storyline. So it s about what "success" means to different people?

Today for the 1st time ever, my little sister text me and said " love you". It was embarrassing lol and yet, the best gift ever! That, to me, is what success is all about, having people who love you:).

Thank you too for your wonderful compliments. They make me feel real warm inside :).

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