Tuk-tuks, automatic motorised rickshaws, are the vehicle of choice for many people in Sri Lanka. They act as family vehicles and double up as taxis as a way for owners to make money.
“I sell bread until lunchtime,” says Rashid, leaning against his rickshaw. “And short eats, you know? Little snacks and pastries. I take passengers too, for shopping, sightseeing, to the station then if I’m not busy, I get my children from school.”
I notice his tuktuk because on the side, someone has painted on the words “Manners make a man". I want to see if it’s true. It turns out Rashid is impeccable in that department. He has a big smile, crinkly eyes and asks if I want to try a “short eat”, a vegetable cutlet or samosa perhaps. He also presses a freshly baked bread roll into my hand.
I bite into a cutlet. “Really good!” I tell him. He says his wife makes the short eats, his mother-in-law bakes the bread and he troops off to sell their wares around Kandy. It’s quite a team.
And when he’s sold everything or business gets slow? “Taxi driver time,” he says. “Sometimes local people, sometimes tourists. I like to drive around town. If I I see my friends, I might stop and we’ll drink a faluda.”
A customer has arrived, requesting a fare. The man hops in and Rashid waves goodbye, before zipping into a seemingly impossible gap between two trucks.
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