When I was a little girl, I always wanted the Barbie 4×4 convertible battery car. If you’re of a certain age you will know it was THE toy car to have in the 90’s. A sassy shade of pink and it looked so effortlessly cool as my friends were cruising down the road. Now that I’m a little older, I’m happy to say that my childhood dreams have finally come true. But, in the form of a hot pink fleet of e-rickshaws that have recently hit the streets of Jaipur!
If you’ve newly arrived into the capital of Rajasthan and are looking for a way to explore the sites of the city, you should look no further than the Pink City Rickshaw Company to show you around. A newly formed non-profit organisation, the company aims to empower 200 women from low income households and urban slums to earn a living wage through their Rickshaw service.
Now, if you’re not familiar with India, women don’t have as much status here as men do. Let alone, driving an e-rickshaw which is primarily seen as strictly a ‘man’s profession. Meaning, this company is truly paving the way to break the boundaries of patriarchy and push borders showcasing what us awesome girls are capable of; it’s completely bad ass!
So, when I was invited to take a spin in one of these pink beauties I simply couldn’t refuse. I hopped in my royal buggy for the day, met my beautiful driver Komal and experienced a stylish heritage tour of Jaipur!
Stopping at Jal Mahal or the Lake Palace for a few snaps!
Encouraging female empowerment
Traditionally in India, a woman was expected to walk behind her husband, know her place, keep herself in the home, look after children and cook. She would work indoors to make handicrafts for her husband to sell. But, slowly (and I mean slowly) but surely, India is encouraging female empowerment and equality. Corporate businesses are expected to reach a percentage of both genders in organisations, women have roles as security guards, have rank in the armed forces and a voice in parliament. These are all things that men didn’t believe women were capable of even fifty years ago.
The caste system in India also plays a massive role in your future prospects. If you’re born into a good family with a good name, you have the world served to you on a silver platter. But if you’re born in a lower caste it can be a challenge to get a skilled profession. Companies still ask you to put your caste on application forms and will rank you before they have even met you. You could be the brightest, kindest and most capable person of the bunch but your name will catch you out.
Coming from the West, these things can be perplexing and, although I accept that this is culture here, I can’t say it doesn’t make my blood boil sometimes. In the UK, we aren’t even allowed to put our ages on CV’s anymore due to hiring equality!
So, the Pink City Rickshaw Company are giving a massive a opportunity to these ladies from urban slums and low income households in Jaipur. They can purchase shares in the company and eventually will own and run the business themselves. It’s a social enterprise that will give them a living wage and a huge boost of confidence.
The mentality here is that women cannot drive, they will steer clear and pretty much laugh at their ability behind the wheel. When I was on my tour with Komal driving, I couldn’t believe how many people were staring, heckling and simply shocked at the fact it was a woman driving a rickshaw!
I found it hilarious being British and a female driver myself, but, on reflection, these women are truly brave for taking this challenge head on. A rickshaw walli (woman) is pretty much unheard of.
If you were in any doubt, these ladies have undergone an extensive training programme in how to manoeuvre their e-rickshaw. They have gained soft skills and English language training from companies like the Taj and Oberoi group to ensure they can guide tourists and been given a swanky pink uniform. This will ensure they are professional and provide a first class service to you.
Exploring Jaipur in style
I simply fell in love with their hot pink rickshaw and it definitely makes a statement through the rose city streets. It’s newly designed and has a lot of features that your normal rickshaw wouldn’t have. It has a mobile phone charging station, water bottle holder and even a locker for your valuables.
The best part, as I went during monsoon season, was the fact it has a convertible style gold canopy which comes over to provide protection from the elements. This also came in handy to shade from the harsh sun.
The fact that it’s battery powered also ensures that it is environmentally friendly and contributing to a clean and green Jaipur. If you’ve been in India a while, you will know that fume pollution here is a big problem.
I felt like royalty as I was driven around the city and it was even better that the rickshaw was a statement shade of pink. It was girl power at its finest!
Maybe I’ve found my new job…
What tours do they offer?
There are four tours which you can select from the list. If it’s your first time in Jaipur I would personally pick their flagship Pink City Heritage Tour. This will guarantee that you tick off a lot of the tourist attractions in 3-4 hours.
This will whiz you around to see Hawa Mahal, Jal Mahal, City Palace/Jantar Mantar and the Albert Hall. You will get some time hop off and explore each place. We were originally allocated 30 minutes for the City Palace, but actually you will need around an hour to see the palace in full. So, make sure you clarify what time you’re given as entrance is 500 rupees a foreigner. You want make the most of your money and not feel rushed.
It’s also good to note that this tour does not include the Amer Fort, due to the rickshaw struggling to make it up the steep incline to the top!
The other tours you can choose from are a Shop and Hop where you will be shown around the the best stores for buying Rajasthani souvenirs (4 hours), The Culture Gully where you can see how bangles and handicrafts are made (4 hours) and a Wake up with Jaipur tour which would be perfect for sunrise shots without anyone in them (2 hours)!
All of the tours range from 2000 – 3500 rupees which can sound expensive if you price check in the area. But, a taxi will be around the same price and this isn’t just any rickshaw service. You’re contributing and supporting these lovely ladies and helping their livelihood.
They also offer rickshaws bookings for corporate functions and weddings, which will guarantee an event with a glamorous touch!
Exploring the Jaipur City Palace
I’m in! How do I book?
The Pink City Rickshaw company are relatively new and their website is still under construction. But, they have a Facebook page, Instagram to follow and you can contact directly via firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (+91) 8233406070.
Having personally met the team and their friendly project lead Siddharth Lunkad, I can honestly say the passion that these guys have to see these ladies succeed is inspiring.
Stopping for a chat at Albert Hall
By choosing the Pink City Rickshaw Company to show you around Jaipur, you’re not only adding an exciting adventure to your holiday but are contributing to a good cause too. There are certain milestones in the history of female empowerment which are notable and, for India, this is certainly one.
A rickshaw walli maybe a rarity today, but it’s a stepping stone into the future and these ladies are showing us how it’s done, one pink rickshaw at a time!
With thanks to the Pink City Rickshaw Company for hosting my ride. If you would like to make a booking see here. Pictures, review and opinions are completely my own.
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