Mumbai traffic. How can I possibly find the words to justly describe the chaotic mess that is the traffic system of India’s most densely populated city? I don’t ever want to be a driver in it & I take my hat off to anyone who has braved that task.
I’ll focus on two incidents I experienced with taxi’s in Mumbai.
The first was after we’d spent the afternoon at Elephanta Island & we needed to get to another suburb of Mumbai to collect race numbers for the next day. We opted for a standard black & yellow metered taxi.
We weaved through the streets with the driver who tried his best to make conversation over any & everything, but he spoke no English & we spoke no Hindi… Interesting to say the least. He then started singing loudly, turning up the volume of his radio in the hopes that we’d feel the music & join in. It didn’t work.
We started discussing plans for the next day & he quietened down. He got far too quiet. I leaned over to look at him because he hadn’t moved & just as I suspected, he was asleep! The music blaring, the noise of Mumbai traffic, the vehicle moving & he was sound asleep. A quick nudge & a “Hey!” & he was back to singing as if nothing had happened.
The next incident happened while transferring between the domestic & international terminals of Mumbai’s airport.
Our flight into Mumbai arrived at about 1 A.M. & we needed to get to the international terminal for a flight scheduled to leave at about 6 A.M. Although arriving at & departing from the same airport, the terminals are about 4 kilometres apart so we needed to take a taxi. There appeared to be one taxi company open at that time, so we used them.
In a chaotic whirlwind of shouting drivers & mass confusion, we found the taxi. The driver took our bags & threw them on the roof, without strapping or tying them down. My brother got in on the left hand side, I tried to open the door on the right hand side. It was unlocked, but wouldn’t open. I pulled so hard that the taxi rocked back & forth, but no success. I went around & got in on the left hand side & my brother moved over.
The driver drove so fast; it really was like someone was chasing us. I didn’t understand the need to be driving at that speed. Anyway, he took a left turn & the door that was jammed shut just swung open. My brother tried to keep himself from falling out & I pulled his arm. I wasn’t much help because in true laughing at inappropriate times form, I was overcome by a fit of laughter. The taxi driver stretched his arm out his window & closed the door, giggled a bit & continued driving.
We managed to get to the terminal in one piece & surprisingly, so did our bags. We also managed to get strange looks at the check in counter because I couldn’t stop giggling about what had just happened.