My first morning in Bombay, the gears of my mind began spinning round and round like so many rickshaw wheels rolling through the neighborhood, picking up one or two passengers, dropping them off, carrying another rider for several miles before she finally exits, waiting on the corner for another customer to climb in….
But — I was unlike that rickshaw because I wanted to get to a particular destination. My goal was to put my thoughts and words together into a sentence or two describing the experience of road traffic in Mumbai. But I’ve given up. The challenge is beyond me, and anyway, we have YouTube ! where I found moving pictures that are far more valuable in this case than my words that never coalesced. After watching an hour or more of “crazy Indian traffic” videos, I offer you my two favorites.
This movie, “Incredible Indian Traffic,” is the best for showing the impressive flow of animal, vegetable and mineral in various places in the city, from a safe perspective. Watch the pedestrians! I have been one just like them, especially in the smaller intersections shown, sharing space with a multitude of motorcycles and with yellow-and-black gas-powered rickshaws that scurry about like silent beetles, often grouping into colonies on the street or waiting at the side.
And the video, “A Walk in Mumbai,” makes you feel a little of what it is like to be walking right there on the street, especially the first part of the video. You can see how just the masses of people make attentiveness to one’s path critical, before you even add in the goat-pulled carts and all manner of vehicles. It’s in a busier part of the city than we navigate on a daily basis, but that sometimes makes it easier as a pedestrian. The rickshaws are banned in South Mumbai in an effort to reduce the clog, and there are more and broader actual sidewalks, as well as some traffic lights and/or traffic-directing police. The traffic jams up more often, which is aggravating for the drivers, but for the pedestrian the slowdown can make the zig-zagging between buses and taxis feel safer…