Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A visit to Mumbai

Sun Set at Chandigarh

It was a trip to the land of Sachin Tendulkar – Mumbai for me last week.
It was a rather tiring flight which delayed by 1.5 hours landed at 8.30 PM at the Chatrapati Shivaji international airport. As I came out, there was a sea of people, with names displayed in front of them, looking expectedly at a steady stream coming out of glass walls. Soon this stream will merge into this sea. It was tough experience, finding the person with my name on the paper. There were literally hundreds of them and it felt quite odd to go through each of them. And as my luck would have it, I found my name at the end of the row. The hotel I was putting up in had offered a free pickup and drop to the airport. But it seems the concept of outsourcing has penetrated deep into our society now. Many hotels had outsourced this pickup thing to an agency. So as I waited, 3 more customers were assembled, packed in a maruti van and we hit the roads of financial capital of India.
The driver seemed like a die hard fan of Michael Schumacher. But as I later realized over the next 3 – 4 days, he was not alone in Mumbai. The traffic sense is literally zero there. And yet surprisingly, I didn’t even see a vehicle touching another during my stay. I cannot help admire the driving capabilities of people. But seriously, mumbaikers need a lesson in driving sensibilities. I assume, whenever Sachin takes out his Ferrari, he would have to concentrate more than on a cricket field.
Some years ago when I had been on Mumbai (and Delhi on the way back), I had thought that Mumbai was where traffic flowed smoothly whereas in Delhi it was a chaos. But this view has reversed now (It may be the case that I had been to marine drive quite often during my last trip)
The morning I had to come back, there was a big breaking news on channels that there has been an intelligence report that there may be a terrorist threat on airports and security had been considerably beefed up specially at Delhi and Mumbai. Hence, I expected some hassles at airport. Just outside the security check, there was a board saying that items like toothpaste, deos, gels, creams etc should not be carried in the hand baggage. I contemplated removing the stuff from my bag. But then decided to keep them and see what the ‘beefed up’ security was like. Not surprisingly, I was cleared without any problem and I had almost all the things specified on the board. To add to it, I couldn’t find any indications of alertness to the threat. The policeman checking me was chatting away with his colleague while metal detecting me. Again, I can’t help compare the attitude of personal in similar positions at Delhi and even at a small airport like Chandigarh. They try to interact with you, get into some discussion and most of the times, try to get some info out of you. It must be part of the training as I don’t think so many policeman I have encountered are so outgoing type who like to get into conversations with strangers. One more thing at the airport, the Public Address system was rather poor. You couldn’t get at all what was being said. Though there were plenty of visual translations available but the PA system is a basic foundation of a railway station/airport. Even if some important announcement has to be done, it would be useless there.
Well, I guess mumbaikers would be vying for my blood after they read this piece which is all about negative aspects of the city. But it’s only a translation of my experiences this time. Had I been writing a blog some years ago, when I last came here, there would have been a post on why I loved Mumbai.


Cuckoo said...

Hmmm so at last a post on Mumbai. :) Now you know why I said so?
There is absolute no sense here and I too, like you end up comparing Mumbai with other cities of India. Last year I went to H'bad for a conference, I found best security there at the airport, better than Delhi, Chennai & of course Mumbai.
And when I say something abt Mumbai, the local ppl are after my blood ;) Actual speaking they have NOT seen any other city to compare with...just like "kuyen ka medhak", a saying in Hindi.

Good observation. Btw, I left my driving after coming to Mumbai..I drive only on highways now. Don't want to be behind the bars. :P

Anonymous said...

I cant agree more with you on driving sense of Mumbaikers. Have stayed there for around 8 months. Even when you are walking alon in the stree at 11 in the night , you have to be pretty aware. A three wheeler or a car can pop-up from nowhere.

KT said...

he he... well the last (and the first as well) time I went to Mumbai, I didn't get to review Mumbai from this angle... but yes local train experiences was something I will cherish all my life....

well if the traffic sense is zero there you should come some day to Vns or Alhbd... there if you can over take a vehicle from top, you can do so (if you can manage it!!)

SiD said...

@cuckoo: my be good that u left driving while in mumbai...i guess u can take on the challenge sometimes ;)
and yes, u r correct, if u see other cities then only u come to know the differences.. hyd airport - when i boarded a plane from there - it was pretty normal.. not extraordinary...

@tarun: ur point is strongly validated by the late nyt accidents that are happening in mumbai..
and i was asking murali that despite quite wide roads, how do these drivers manage to get on the pavements.. ;)

@kamal:last time when i went i had been in a local train.. whoa!it was some experience.. well allhbd, varnasi - wud like to see how ppl overtake there ;)

Cuckoo said...

take on the challenge sometimes.. After driving in Delhi, neither me nor my family wants to take any chances for me within the city limits. ;)

Local trains??? Ask me ask me !!! Everyday at 6:20 AM, I am in the ladies compartment and I travel standing near the door for the whole 1 hour journey. And fyi I travel first class !!

@KT: Once we were on road journey from Delhi to eastern side (long time back). That was the first & last time I experienced the traffic of all major cities of UP.. Yes, you are right..ppl have to overtake from the top.