Sunday, February 4, 2007

Rickshaws in movies

I think as I don't see many around town (there may be three trishaws) I will make a list of all the films I see with rickshaws or trishaws in them.

Last night my wife and I watched a film called the White Countess. It was set in Shanghai around about the late 1930's and they'd managed to get heaps of hand pulled rickshaws into the the street scenes.
Watching the men running around pulling these contraptions was fascinating. On one hand I thought great! Look at all those rickshaws, but on the other hand I thought gee look at all those poor guys reduced to carrying other people around. How degrading! I am curious about the ambivalence I feel regarding this issue. My sense of justice and equality tells me that it is wrong for a person to sit in a chair and be drawn around by another person. Who is so much more important than another that he or she should be able to ride them like a horse or use another as a beast of burden?
On the other hand why does the rickshaw puller take such a job? How does he feel about doing this kind of work? How does he view himself in this role? Maybe the man looks on this as simply a job and a means of putting food on his families table. Maybe he feels no shame in doing it at all and maybe he is proud of his strength and ability.

Know there was a system that functioned on serfdom in Asia as in Europe that persisted into the 19th century and I expect all the attitudes of class divided people back then would guarantee the rickshaw puller would have been a very low status job. But I can't help believing that the profession could earn considerably more respect today.

As I write this post I realize how little I know about the history or the rickshaw or the attitude people have toward them. I hope as I investigate and try to verify my suspicions or questions that I might gain a fuller understanding of what is now no more than a admiring curiosity for me.

Todays posts that mention rickshaws / trishaws

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