Tuk Tuks are as ubiquitous in Sri Lanka as trams are in Melbourne. All colours of the rainbow these three wheel tin-pots are the transportation powerhouse of the country. They deliver the fish, drop the kids at school, sell the bread and carry the mail. There is nothing a Tuk Tuk can’t do and nowhere a Tuk Tuk can’t go.
Each Tuk Tuk is customised and personalised by its driver. Everything down to the choice of colour, stickers, flags, ornaments, mirrors and aerials, are a reflection of the man (and rarely woman) behind the wheel (or handle).
If you were to create the average Tuk Tuk driver, one person who was based on all the combinations of customisations and behaviors of all Tuk Tuk drivers, he would look something like this:
A man. A religious man (multi-denominational). A lover of music, especially Bob Marley. A Socialist, Che Guevera is his political idol. A man of deep thought and wisdom. An optimist. A hopeless romantic. Humble for the most, but confident in himself. Peaceful, someone who can control his anger. A supporter of liberal cannabis laws. A man with a softer side, whose heart melts when he sees a baby, especially a Caucasian one. A man with a sense of humour. A practical man who knows the value of a mini spade and mini ladder. A lover of film, especially the Fast and the Furious franchise. Multi-lingual. A fan of flags and trinkets, with a passion for interior design. A car audio aficionado. A very poor speller.
Tuk Tuk man roams the streets hunting for fares like a lone wolf. When he’s not on the prowl he likes to live in a pack, congregating at street corners, or takeaway shops. He potentially has narcolepsy as he is constantly asleep no matter how uncomfortable the position he finds himself in. An over estimator of distance and time, he is a shrewd businessman who knows how to find a good deal. He knows the short cuts for a fixed price but often suffers memory loss with a meter fare. He is confident and chatty always interested in where his passengers come from.
His natural predator is Police man who tries to pick him off as he races by, charging him with all manner of unofficial fines. He is also wary of the larger transport species, Commuter bus man, with whom he is often in competition with for road space.
Tuk Tuk man rules the roads of Sri Lanka, always on call to get the job done (unless he is asleep, or it’s time to pick up the wife and kids). In the words of Tuk Tuk man himself “ I am not my best I am fringe my best”, I could not have said it better myself. Fringe on Tuk Tuk man…fringe on.