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Autorickshaw-Driving Diplomats of America

Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
January 2023
Autorickshaw-Driving Diplomats of America

If you’re visiting New Delhi and happen to spot a well-dressed woman driving an autorickshaw, don’t be surprised if she doesn’t stop for passengers. She might be commuting to work – at the U.S. Embassy.

As the news agency ANI recently reported, four U.S. diplomats—Ann L. Mason, Ruth Holmberg, Shareen J. Kitterman, and Jennifer Bywaters—are driving autorickshaws for their daily commutes as well as official trips.

Mason became enamored with autorickshaws during a previous assignment in Pakistan and decided to buy one when she moved to India. Learning to drive her black autorickshaw was “terrifying,” she told ANI. “I had never driven any vehicle with a clutch, never driven a motorcycle—only automatic cars—my whole life.”

Mason’s mother had inspired her to be adventurous. “She always taught me to do interesting things and take a chance because, one, you might not get another opportunity and, two, you never know what you might experience.”

Holmberg drives a black autorickshaw, which gets her plenty of attention from ordinary people, especially at the market. “They come and introduce themselves and with that, I am able to build that one-on-one relationship and I think that is a very important part of diplomacy,” she said.

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Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.

[Comments? Contributions? We would love to hear from you about Chai Time. If you have contributions, please email us at melvin@melvindurai.com. We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips, and more.]

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