YAMU’s recently been taking great delight in photographing the various ‘tuk tuk wisdoms’ borne on the colourful backs of our tropical tri-wheeled rides. Darting through traffic and hopping out of cars -possibly even endangering our lives for the noble cause – Indi and I have been combing the streets of Colombo for some of the best examples of the tuk tuk’s cheerful manglings of the English aphorism.
“”Life is a game, don’t play it””. “”Who flies not high, falls not low””. “”Win without boasting, lose without excuse””. With cryptic gems like these, who needs the Proverbs? But bizarrely, alongside these stout, antiquated maxims you also find colourful printed silhouettes of a heavy-lidded Bob Marley – or a frowning, defiant Che who ‘want you to rebel’. Bob and Che – the true monarchs of the tri-wheeled death trap. Whether walking, cruising, doing basically anything down the streets of Colombo, a Marley-bearing trishaw will whizz past you – likely in last-minute halting, heart-stopping fashion.
There’s a curious endearment that our local tuk tuk folk have for these stickered idols. Once upon a time in the 90’s it was the faces of Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet – the star struck passengers of James Cameron’s Titanic – that were plastered on every t-shirt, bag, and print-surfaceable item of merchandise. Now, it’s Bob, Che and the good words of, well, we’re not sure who.
A complete mishmash of colour, culture and unintentional kitsch – tuk tuks and the slogans they adopt have become an indispensable, adored feature of island life. Here’s what we’ve collected so far.