Story Behind The Lens #2 – Until The Last Bell Rings

 Pulling for your life, Man in Varanasi, Soul Drifters travel blog, India, Story behind the lense

Until The Last Bell Rings

The man behind the lens is one of many migrant workers in India’s rickshaw industry, often known as a “puller”.  There are two main kinds of rickshaws found around India.  There are the hand pullers which pull their rickshaws on foot.  Then there are cycle rickshaws which are drawn by a bicycle.  This form of transport provides work and income to a large population of unskilled migrants.

It’s a hard life pulling through the busy streets and narrow lanes of urban India for a few rupees a day.  There are so many harsh elements to consider like the scorching Indian summer heat and the cold chill of the winter months.  The pullers body’s take a physical beating while breathing in burnt carbon emissions from the large amount of taxies, tuk tuk’s and busses on the busy roads.  Due to the conditions, in 2005 the provincial government of Kolkata declared the job of a hand puller as inhumane.

Pullers provide a service of point to point connectivity that only their rickshaws manage to reach.  Not only is their transport environmentally friendly but it is also the cheapest.  These days you don’t hear the ringing of the small bells that pullers use as their rickshaw’s horn as often anymore. The amount of pullers are dropping drastically due to authorities often not issuing new licences.

RELATED ARTICLE: Travel Varanasi – City Of Many Gods

Another hard fact is that Rickshaws often also become a pullers make shift bed at night.  Some rickshaws can be spotted in narrow lanes or under bridges at night. This is where they try to get some shut eye before their recurring duties of the next day.

Despite all odds, the last remaining pullers in India still see it as their duty to carry their passengers or goods safely to their destination every day.  Most strive just to earn a few rupees to support families.

READ: More stories in the series “Story behind the lens” here


Have you ever been on a rickshaw in India?   Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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This is the second "Story Behind The Lens" photography post. This photo's is about the rickshaw drivers in India and their hardships "Until The Last Bell Rings" #india #rickshaw #handpullers


* All opinions are our own.  Image may be used around the web as long as you credit us and link back to our website souldrifters.com. Images may not be used for advertising and commercial purposes. You are welcome to contact us for rates and terms for commercial rights.

Liza Williams

Born in South Africa, fascinated with culture and loves wood fire pizza. “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away” Follow me on twitter: @soul_drifters

10 thoughts on “Story Behind The Lens #2 – Until The Last Bell Rings

  • February 19, 2018 at 2:08 pm
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    The only time I have been on a rickshaw is on Times Square in New York City. Besides, I have not been to India. It still is on my bucket list, unticked. I come from the Philippines, so I know of such lives, of men and women trying to earn a few pesos a day doing backbreaking work and sleeping in dire conditions. Poverty is that way.

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  • February 15, 2018 at 11:27 am
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    What an interesting read… I never got to take a rickshaw in India but I did do one in Vietnam and I loved it so much though it was a little scary 🙂 I never knew that the people that work on them are called puller. I would expect it to be hard life pulling through the busy streets and narrow lanes that is why I appreciate what they do for a living.

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  • February 15, 2018 at 3:11 am
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    I haven’t been to Rickshaw saw yet, but last year I visited Agra, Jodpur, Udaipur and Delphi. I Love this kind of posts – personal profiles. Sometimes we dont take a moment to question other peoples life, feelings and history. Also, she featured image above is amazing. Kepp on the good work! – Ella

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  • February 14, 2018 at 5:52 pm
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    Ive never been in India but I’ve seen very similar bikes in Europe. It must be such a hard job, they must be so strong both physically and mentally! . I always feel bad for them but I know they do it for their families, they do it to survive ! Thank you for sharing this post !

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  • February 14, 2018 at 11:08 am
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    Yes, I’ve been on rickshaws in India. I always feel really sorry for the rickshaw puller, even though I understand that their families depend on their incomes to survive. What a hard way to earn a living. Those guys are really wiry and super fit.

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  • February 14, 2018 at 6:05 am
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    This is such a wonderful piece and a great concept for a post. I love that travel blogs are being more introspective these days and yours definitely fit into that category. The people you meet along the way make travel equally worthwhile as the sights you see!

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  • February 14, 2018 at 5:44 am
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    Rickshaw pullers, like you mentioned, are far and few now, mostly in the smaller cities where it is still possible for them to be on the roads. In bigger cities such as Delhi & Mumbai, where the infrastructure and roads don’t allow for smaller and slower vehicles to be on the road, you’ll hardly find them except in small localities, doing maybe 5-8 kms run at the max. It is definitely a hard job, considering the harsh climate in most cities and they earn peanuts for it. And you can still see people haggling with them, such a pity!

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  • February 13, 2018 at 3:38 pm
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    Wow. I had no idea that their job was so demanding. I knew about the physical aspect of simply being the catalyst to move people from place to place, but I guess I never really thought about the pollution and emissions that they were also breathing in. No wonder their job was declared inhumane. I know it’s going to be hard for them to find other jobs to support themselves and their families, which makes me sad.

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  • February 13, 2018 at 1:16 pm
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    I have taken rickshaw ride during my childhood many times. At that time, it was fun for us but now as a grown up, I think it is very inhumane to be pulled by human being. These rickshaw pullers migrate from nearby villages in search of work and end up earning through such difficult tasks. I hope apart from goverment agencies, some social organisations or NGO’s should come forward to search another earning option for them.

    Reply
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