Rickshaw pullers fade from India’s streets

The eastern Indian city of Kolkata is one of the last places on earth where pulled rickshaws still feature in daily life and 62-year-old Mohammad Maqbool Ansari is persevering as the gruelling trade is slowly fading from India.
Updated 27 April 2018
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Rickshaw pullers fade from India’s streets

KOLKATA: Mohammad Maqbool Ansari puffs and sweats as he pulls his rickshaw through Kolkata’s teeming streets, a veteran of a gruelling trade long outlawed in most parts of the world and slowly fading from India too.
Kolkata is one of the last places on earth where pulled rickshaws still feature in daily life, but Ansari is among a dying breed still eking a living from this back-breaking labor.
The 62-year-old has been pulling rickshaws for nearly four decades, hauling cargo and passengers by hand in drenching monsoon rains and stifling heat that envelops India’s heaving eastern metropolis.
Their numbers are declining as pulled rickshaws are relegated to history, usurped by tuk tuks, Kolkata’s signature yellow taxis and modern conveniences like Uber.
Ansari cannot imagine life for Kolkata’s thousands of rickshaw-wallahs if the job ceased to exist.
“If we don’t do it, how will we survive? We can’t read or write. We can’t do any other work. Once you start, that’s it. This is our life,” he tells AFP.
Sweating profusely on a searing hot day, his singlet soaked and face dripping, Ansari skilfully weaves his rickshaw through crowded markets and bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Wearing simple shoes and a chequered sarong, the only real giveaway of his age is his long beard, snow white and frizzy, and a face weathered from a lifetime plying this disappearing trade.
Twenty minutes later, he stops, wiping his face on a rag. The passenger offers him a glass of water — a rare blessing — and hands a note over.
“When it’s hot, for a trip that costs 50 rupees ($0.75) I’ll ask for an extra 10 rupees. Some will give, some don’t,” he said.
“But I’m happy with being a rickshaw puller. I’m able to feed myself and my family.”


Police visit ‘Saturday Night Live’ star after Instagram post

Updated 16 December 2018
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Police visit ‘Saturday Night Live’ star after Instagram post

  • Earlier this month, the comedian wrote on Instagram that he has spoken about borderline personality disorder from which he says he suffers
  • A police spokesman declined to say where officers met with Ariana Grande’s ex-fiance on Saturday

NEW YORK: New York City police were concerned about Pete Davidson after he wrote “I don’t want to be on this earth anymore” on Instagram. And they visited the “Saturday Night Live” star to make sure he was OK.
A police spokesman declined to say where officers met with Ariana Grande’s ex-fiance on Saturday. But his Instagram posting was deleted and NBC did not cancel its live show.
What alarmed Davidson’s fans and authorities was the tone of the entertainer’s post: “I’m doing my best to stay here for you but I actually don’t know how much longer I can last. All I’ve ever tried to do was help people. Just remember I told you so.” He added a heart emoji.
Social media erupted with words of love for the 25-year-old comedian and native New Yorker who first appeared on “Saturday Night Live” in 2014. And his name is trending on Twitter.
One admirer tweeted “hang in there. There is a lot of help out here. Surrender to some love ... I’m praying for you Pete. I’ve been there. It gets better.”
Earlier this month, Davidson wrote on Instagram that he has spoken about borderline personality disorder from which he says he suffers, “and being suicidal publicly only in the hopes that it will help bring awareness and help kids like myself who don’t want to be on this earth.
“No matter how hard the Internet or anyone tries to make me kill myself. I won’t. I’m upset I even have to say this.”
Davidson and Grande were engaged in June, but broke up earlier this fall.
In November, Davidson apologized for mocking the appearance of a veteran who lost an eye in Afghanistan.
He said Lt. Com. Dan Crenshaw, now a congressman-elect from Texas, “deserves all the respect in the world.”
On SNL’s “Weekend Update” segment , Davidson was joined by Crenshaw, a Navy SEAL.
Davidson had mocked Crenshaw a week earlier, saying viewers might be surprised he’s “not a hit man in a porno movie.”
Crenshaw, a Republican who won a House seat in the 2018 midterm elections, took some joking shots at Davidson. And when his cellphone rang, the tone was “Breathin” by Grande.
Crenshaw got serious at the end, encouraging civilians and veterans to connect and paying tribute to heroes like Davidson’s father, a firefighter who died in the 9/11 terror attacks.