Three-wheelers in West Bengal

A toto
A fohtfohti which resembles a chagda

In the Saurashtra region of Gujarat, there are many chagdas, which are also known as ‘ta tas’. They consist of the front half and engine of a motorcycle and the rear half can be either a passenger compartment or more often a wagon for carrying goods.

Way over east in Shantiniketan (West Bengal) I spotted two kinds of three wheelers, which resemble, at least superficially, the chagda.

The ‘toto’ has the handlebars and front appearance of a motorcycle and the vehicle has a passenger compartment. The totos are very silent because they are propelled by electrical energy.

The ‘fohfohti’ which is used to transport freight is just like the chagda seen in Saurashtra. It is propelled by a motorcycle engine and its front half, like the chagda, is the front half and engine of a motorbike.

Kites and cyclists

MAKARA SAKRANTI or UTTARAYAN, as it is known in Gujarat, is a Hindu festival held in mid January. It marks the beginning of the lengthening of day length, a month after the winter solstice.

Kite flying is a popular way to celebrate the festival. The kites are either attached to fine nylon strings or other threads sometimes covered with tiny fragments of crushed glass. Some kite flyers like to try to use their glass covered kite threads to sever the threads of other airborne kites.

The trees and ground are littered with paper kites that have escaped their owners. We have seen many of these in Vadodara.

Frequently, kites on long threads descend groundwards. The threads may cross busy roads. They offer danger to speeding motorcyclists. There is a real risk of drivers having their throats and faces severely injured by the almost invisible kite threads stretched across the road.

Prudent motorcyclists attach tall metal hoops from one handle bar to the other. These hoops will sever the hazardous kite threads before they can injure the cyclists’ throats.