posted in: Pictures 2

Nicole White sent in the picture above. The Rikshas are a real Durban icon and I’ve always had the feeling that more use should be made of them as a tourist attraction. The ones I’ve encountered have always looked a bit decrepit and not that inviting. It wouldn’t cost that much, surely, to spruce them up a bit.

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  1. Gerald Buttigieg
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    Hi Nicole
    Your picture of the rickshaws brought back memories and I dug up this old family photo dated 1948. Yours truly with his late older sister and late cousin. We had been in the country just over a week! Now the rickshaw pullers in those days really went the extra yard in their get up. I do not know why they have seem to have “regressed” ( if that’s the right word) in their appearance but they were once formidable looking figures and you can well imagine the awe newcomers had about these “strange men”. In the picture all the round things in the head dress were actually expended old light bulbs that were painted various colours and were worked into the intricate headgear. The horns were genuine bull horns and the clothing specially made. There were dozens of them kitted up like this and they parked in Marine Parade. The legs were painted with white wash and some had gone to the trouble of painting designs as well. I recall the back of the massive head dress was an attached black scarf with all sorts of beading and even small mirrors sewn in. Note the feathers round the shoulders as well. Some even had painted sheet metal circles worked into the spokes. The scariest thing was the “jump” in the ride when gathering a up a bit of speed the rickshaw puller would jump up, the weight in the back would lower the rickshaw onto its back wheel and the rickshaw puller would add his weight by sitting on the front of it and letting the whole caboodle run on its on till it slowed down and he would pick up the momentum again. Another thing that the pullers had was what we called “milk boy” sandals. These were sandals made up of old tyre soles with tyre tube cross straps. In the 1960s it was hip to wear a pair of genuine milk boy sandals which one could buy at the Indian Market. I even had a pair! Sadly the advent of metal strands in the tyre make up killed this “art” as the tyres could no longer be cut easily into soles and the protruding metal strands cut the feet.
    In the background is the tall Fairhaven Hotel sans the Coca Cola sign which was to come later. The ubiquitous shelters can be seen and the steps lead to the old West Street Pier which has since been removed. This photo was taken at the bottom of West Street which once upon a time ran right down to the beach and met up with Lower Marine Parade. That is South Beach in the background.
    Rickshaw Ride
    Happy Snaps
    Pity colour photos were not that easily available then but the rickshaw pullers of those days would put your “modern” ones to shame. By the way the photo was taken by Happy Snaps which has been mentioned in posts. They had a small kiosk right near where this photo was taken. I am positive there would be many such photos in all the old photo albums gathering dust.

  2. Gail Cooper
    | Reply

    Wow !!! These pics certainly brought back memories !!!
    Especially the one above ! This is the way I remember the Rikshas 🙂 as I commented in a post earlier a little scary looking, loved the amazing ‘Head Gear’ and the noises they used to make 🙂

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