New Delhi: In their ‘out of the box’ style, four US women diplomats ditched their bullet-proof vehicles and took to streets in the personalized auto-rickshaws, news agency ANI reported.
Speaking to ANI, Ann L Mason, Ruth Holmberg, Shareen J Kitterman and Jennifer Bywaters shared their way of learning the new mode of transport for all their work, including the ‘official trips’.
The U.S. Embassy’s #autogang is here! Check out our first #DostiMonth video and see these three diplomatic auto rickshaw women drivers hit the Delhi streets! Tune in every Friday this month for #DostiMonth videos!#USIndiaAt75🇺🇸🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/0ggfwyokqy
— U.S. Embassy India (@USAndIndia) September 9, 2022
“From Detroit to my auto rickshaw, I’ve had a lifelong love of vehicles and so everywhere I’ve been there’s been something special about a vehicle but really none more special in my opinion than an autorickshaw. When I was in Pakistan, before coming to India, I was in armoured vehicles and they were big, beautiful vehicles. But I would always look out on the street and I would see the autorickshaws going by and I always wanted to be in the autorickshaw. So when I got to India and had the opportunity to buy one, I took it immediately”, Ann L Mason said.
Talking about her inspiration behind the idea, Ann said that her mother inspired her to take chances and experiment in life.
“My inspiration is my mother, my mother always took chances. She travelled around the world, she was in the Vietnam War and she did so much with her life. My daughter also drives the autorickshaw and so learning from them every day, the interesting things that how they see the world”, she said.
Her personalized black autorickshaw, nicknamed KITT, has a Bluetooth device and a curtain printed with the image of a tiger.
Shareen J Kitterman, born in Karnataka, has her pink autorickshaws with flower magnets. She said she was inspired by the Mexican Ambassador, who had an auto with a driver. She also tied colourful tassels to both sides of her auto, and stuck flags of the United States and India near the windshield.
“When I was in US planning to come to New Delhi, I’d heard about the Mexican Ambassador. Ten years ago, she had an auto and she had a driver. That’s when I started thinking about it. When I came here, I saw Ann who had an auto, so when I own an auto, I want to drive it. So, that was my whole goal,” Shareen said.
Discovering the hustle and bustle of the city, Ruth Holmberg goes to the market with her ‘black beauty’.
“I enjoy driving the auto very much and I love it when other women see that I am driving it and I like that they see this possibility for them as well. For me, diplomacy is not all that high level. Diplomacy is people meeting people, people getting to know each other, and getting a chance to build relationships and that’s what I can do with the auto. I meet people every day,” she said.
“On my way from my work, going to the market. I know the vendors in my area, and I know people in the market, they are all excited to see me at the market with the auto. They come and introduce themselves and with that, I am able to build that one-on-one relationship and I think that is a very important part of diplomacy,” Ruth added.
Talking about her journey, Jennifer Bywaters said she got to see the good side of people who helped her.
“When I got to be in Delhi, I met Ann and after riding in her auto, I decided that I needed this vehicle too. I get to see the local perspective, more of the humanity. Some of the people helped me since I started driving the auto-rickshaw and so I saw the good side of the people in Delhi,” Jennifer said.
“Learning wasn’t difficult. I am used to driving a clutch so that part was easy and the hardest part of driving in Delhi is navigating around animals, bicycles and other auto-rickshaws. But I would say that have fun and be brave. Think outside the box and you do not need to do things as they have always been done,” she added.