Sunday, April 29, 2012

What happens in Mumbai, well, doesn't stay in Mumbai!

It’s been long since I wrote anything, literally, in here. I am pretty ambitious that way about my writing adventures. I have a blog, a Twitter profile, a Facebook page, a couple of books I have been eternally working on (typical writer’s block, you know), and I don’t write in one single place!
So anyway, this blog post is honestly a little more than a pointless ramble. It also marks a personal landmark for me. I am about to finish 3-full-year in Mumbai (Some say it’s the city of dreams! Bet they haven’t really been in the Mumbai local or got caught in a traffic jam at Sakinaka or have had to deal with any government officials by far!)
In other news, couple of quarters back (yes, that’s right, that’s corporate-speak for 6 months) I finally got myself a ride in Mumbai. It’s a swanky bike, and I am positively in love with it. I am highly petro-sexual (a term I like to believe I invented, but to be honest I heard it somewhere else, and which means anything that burns a lot of fuel and goes from 0-60 in under 9 seconds gets me really high) and enjoy riding my bike more than most other things I do. Especially longer drives, where I get to do some of the antics on the bike (strictly non-risk taking ventures). 

In these ~6-months of riding my bike in Mumbai, I realized that riding in Mumbai is quite different that riding in any other city in India. Of course I have been on 2 wheels since 2003, which makes it around 9 years of riding experience.
How different is it to ride in Mumbai? Well, here are a few pointers, not exhaustive by any means:
  • Most times, you are riding at a speed of 0.27 kilometers per hour, and you feel liberated when you can actually move to the third gear
  • People, rather than taking a shorter route, will take the highway, even if doubles the travel distance because it reduces the time (I do it all the time!)
  • 60 cc, 75 cc, 100 cc, 125 cc, 150 cc, 200 cc, 220 cc, 250 cc, 600 cc, 1000 cc, and so on. All these two wheelers move at the same speed in Mumbai on 84.7% percent of the roads (totally reliable, not made up statistics).
  • One thing that Mumbai roads have similar to other cities of India, and I speak from experience is pedestrians and people crossing streets. This in itself can have it’s own set of pointers, believe me:
    • No one walks on the sidewalks, everyone wants to crowd the roads, because, you know, that’s how we roll
    • People crossing the streets have a sense of humor. Positively. Some of them run, literally. Some of them meander, looking to their right, when a world of traffic is coming from their left. Others, and these ones are my personal favorites, act like they are running, with all expressions, and realistic dramatic moves, while actually still maintaining the same speed while crossing a street.
  • People on the road are mostly very helpful. Believe me, this is uncommon.  I have had driving instructions on the highway from people who were also driving and these directions turned out to be spot-on, better than Google Maps.
Anyhow, what does matter is that life in Mumbai is great as usual. I was always worried about how it would b when the population doubles with the high birthrate as well as the unending rate of immigration. Roads are getting saturated, parking lots and street side parking are almost perpetually full, and I have never, ever gone 10 kilometers at a stretch without seeing congestion on one of the sides of the road. True as that maybe, Mumbai has witnessed couple of years of negative immigration rate, meaning people are actually flowing out of Mumbai, and that might help the situation!
All in all, rollicking 3 years in Mumbai (now Thane, residence wise), and hopefully a few more to go.
P.S: Did I mention that Mumbai summers are really cruel? And when they end, there is monsoon, which blocks streets because of water logging? Well that for another post, maybe. Laterz.