Consumer Pulse
- Pimped up
Tuks: An
expression of
and attitude in
Sri Lanka
Appekka Fernando

Tuk-tuks are an everyday part of the lives of almost all urban Sri Lankans. Tuk-tuk owners often purchase their vehicles through leases and loans obtained through financial institutions and operate the vehicle as a taxi – based out of an established taxi rank. A tuk-tuk owner therefore, can be defined as the quintessential Sri Lankan small business owner.

Extensive embellishments in the form of decorations like skull detail and floral trims, racing stripes, chrome handrails and hood racks or seat upgrades (taking out the original passenger seating and installing plush, reclaimed seats in matching colours), installation of a sound system, slogan stickers, vinyls of Bob Marley, and religious stickers are a few ways that aspirations and personality are expressed by tuk-tuk owners.

Sometimes these expressions don’t seem to make any sense to the curious observer. It is not uncommon to find an ordinary unembellished tuk-tuk by day transformed to a Jah Rastha worship party by night and it often feels like an inside joke.

Tuk-tuk embellishment is a way of standing out in a sea of sameness and establishing a clear-cut identity for oneself, both for personal gratification and customer satisfaction; who wouldn’t remember a pepto-bismol tuk-tuk or one that asked you to be happy with your balls?

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