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Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai Email Compiled/partly written by Melvin Durai
May 2013

Indian-American comedian Hari Kondabolu recently tweeted, “I’m in a bicycle rickshaw in Austin being pedaled by a white man. My Indian grandmother would never believe this.”

It does seem strange: while cycle rickshaws are becoming a rarity in Indian cities, they’re transporting people in more than 40 American cities. Commonly known as pedicabs, they’re used mostly by tourists, partly because of the cost. In New York City, where rates aren’t regulated, a Texas family paid $442 for a 14-block ride last summer. While that’s an exception, it often costs five times as much to travel by pedicab than by taxi.

In Austin, Texas, where Kondabolu got his ride, at least one company, Metrocycle Pedicabs, offers hand-pulled rickshaws. According to the company’s website, the rickshaws are pulled by a “very fit runner” and are available downtown and for special events. They must be quite a treat, especially for tourists from India who want to remember the old days.

Compiled and partly written by Indian humorist MELVIN DURAI, author of the novel Bala Takes the Plunge.
[Comments? Contributions? Please email us at We welcome jokes, quotes, online clips, and more.]


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