When one thinks of a foreign delegate in India,all we get is an image of convoy of swanky cars armed with security speeding through the roads.But Melba Pria, the Mexican Ambassador to India, doesn’t believe in show of power by such means
To our utter surprise, her official vehicle is India’s very own three wheeler auto.Before becoming an Ambassador, she had traveled in India and had always traveled in an auto rickshaw. So she believes that if millions of Indians use an auto rickshaw, why wouldn’t an ambassador use an auto rickshaw?
Her official ride is a beautifully done auto with the floral design which decorates the canvas on the top of the vehicle ,made by Mexican artist Senkoe.Mexico flag sits with pride , right in the front.
This fine empress chose Auto as her official vehicle as it was a way to honor something that was so Indian.
Besides, three wheeler has the lowest carbon footprint compared to other means of transport.
Her deep concern for air quality, stems from her roots in Mexico and Mexico City’s appalling record with pollution. The city was able to turn its air pollution record around and vastly improve the health of its residents because it focused on public transport. According to her, in many ways, Delhi is in the same situation right now.While Mexico City today has 286 good air days, Delhi has only 16 which is a matter of grave concern.
Cruz, her political manager, says that Pria’s day begins at 5 am, and by the time Cruz gets to work, the ambassador has already gone for a run, a swim and perhaps even for a bicycle round around the block.
The ambassador’s 33-year-old driver, Rajender Kumar, says he often gets asked when he stops at traffic signals if a new company is entering the auto-rickshaw segment in the city. “When I tell them it is a private vehicle, auto-rickshaw drivers seem to first be relieved and then happy that the vehicle they drive is gaining so much attention,” he says.
Dressed in a grey safari suit, Kumar drives the auto-rickshaw in office formals, sometimes even with a tie to go with his formal trousers, shirt and shoes in case the occasion demands it. “When the ambassador first told me that I had to drive an auto-rickshaw, I was extremely nervous and didn’t think it would be possible,” Kumar laughs. It took him over a week to learn how to navigate an auto-rickshaw and be confident enough to drive it. Today, the driver who has been used to driving a Toyota Corolla, has driven the auto-rickshaw to relatively distant locations, including the Rashtrapati Bhavan, India Habitat Centre and even Gurgaon.
But not everything went as planned when Kumar wanted to drive through the gate to the reception area of Parliament. “The guard was very courteous but thoroughly confused after he saw our identification and the diplomatic corps number plate,” says Pria
While this situation was eventually resolved, it gave Pria the status of the “cool diplomat”, especially with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj. “When Mexico’s foreign affairs minister came to India, I travelled to the ministry of external affairs (housed in South Block) to meet Swaraj and Modi. As the Prime Minister shook my hand, he looked at me and said, ‘I head you’re travelling in an autorickshaw!’ I could feel my ears burning up,” laughs Pria.
At the same meeting, Swaraj asked for her mobile phone to click a selfie with the ambassador and her auto-rickshaw.
“I respect protocol when it is required, but I do not believe that it cannot evolve over time. Twenty years ago, you could have never imagined that India would have a prime minister who clicks selfies.”
We are in total awe of this great lady and we salute to her “Simple Living High Thinking” attitude