The only other way to get around within the islands ( the first one being to walk) is to take a cycle rickshaw. It is a very basic ride. It is a cross between a wagon and a cycle. It can take about four people of average weight. The narrow roads barely supports two passing rickshaws. So stretching your legs while riding one is asking for trouble! ( Trust me I know!)
Our last trip on the cycle rickshaw was about noon time. Mowgli, our guide pretty much ambushed a rickshaw.I do not blame him the heat was unbearable. Preeti and I dumped our bags in the middle and sat on either side of the driver ( for lack of a better term) while Mowgli hopped on at the back.
Our driver was a fairly youngish chap with the energy and cockiness to go with it. He did not seem perturbed by the heat. When passing rickshaws coming from the opposite side he was sometimes daring enough to playfully snatch cigarettes from passengers.
At a bend in the road there was a woman in a green saree standing beside a palm tree. With one hand over her forehead she screened the sun. When we approached her our driver help out his hand and in one movement a pink and green striped nylon bag exchanged hands. The driver hung it across the handle bars. There were two more bags, one a plain blue cloth bag and the other a silver metallic container. They were lunch boxes. They all hung from the same handle bar.
As we approached a ditch where a few men were farming for prawns our driver honked. He moved the pink and green striped bag to the other bar and held out his hand with the silver container dangling from his wrist. Ahead a man came running, he had dirt upto his knees. When he came closer to the rickshaw he reduced speed. However our driver the cocky guy that he was started pedaling faster. The poor farmer yelled out a curse at which our driver laughed and increased his speed. The poor farmer yelling louder started running backward to keep up with the rickshaw. He was still running when we passed him but he held the metal container with the palm of his hands. He stopped after a while balanced the lunch box between his knees and bend down to panting.
By the time we reached the jetty where we were to get down, we had picked up three more boxes and delivered another one, upset oncoming traffic causing an old man to drop the sandals which he had balanced on his knees was yelled at by men, women and children. sweating profusely and tanned beyond recognition; all this without stopping for a single moment.
You got to love the Sunderbans!