Tag Archives: rickshaws

My mind is like a rickshaw.

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…

…a little.

100 degrees, oldest to youngest.

In Wisconsin, where I spent the holiday with my oldest daughter Pearl, we had a freezing Christmas, with unexpected light snow. I’d never experienced subzero temperatures before; when I came out of church on Christmas Day my cheeks seemed to stiffen within a minute.

The view from the big breakfast room windows was soothingly white and still, until we let Dog Jack run out to exult in the snow by rolling in it and barking the announcement of joy to the neighborhood.

I was slated to travel from Pearl’s to visit my youngest daughter Kate, and a couple of days before that journey my son-in-law noticed on the weather page that it was 100 degrees hotter at my destination than at their house at that moment. So warm… because Kate lives and works with her husband Tom in India — and now here I am in India, too!

It’s not a country that I ever had any desire to visit, and even after I bought my plane ticket, it was only the thought of seeing my dear daughter that overcame my aversion to the dehumanizing strain of traveling to the other side of the globe.

From Chicago I flew to Toronto, and then on to Mumbai, or Bombay, spending 15 hours on that last leg of my journey. Some of you have heard me tell of my anxiety about that long long flight, but I have to admit that it wasn’t really bad! As soon as I joined the group of people waiting to board Air Canada’s Boeing 777, nearly all Indian folk, I felt that I was part of a congenial and helpful community. I had a good seat on the aisle, the perfect seatmate, and they fed us three comforting Indian meals.

Daughter Pippin had given me a splendid neck pillow designed for air travel, and it worked so well, I slept three times during that period that was like a time out of time, crossing about ten time zones and being carried into the future, and into another world.

I’ll be here several weeks, where winter temperatures range from approximately 60-90 degrees. I’m really happy to miss out on the dark days of a more northern January this year, though Bombay’s air quality is so bad — 195 on the index my first day — that the light is blocked out somewhat.

I have been busy these first three days of my stay with Kate and Tom, with just a minimum of minutes in which to scribble a few notes on things I don’t want to forget. I hope I can write here about some of the thousand things that have impressed me so far, and the experiences I have yet to encounter in this vibrant land.

But for now, I just wanted to check in,
and also to wish you a blessed new year of 2018!

 

[To continue reading posts about India, scroll down a little to the link “Bombay Baby” with its arrow pointing to the right, and click on that. Continue in that way at the bottom of each post. There is only one in the string of 23 posts over seven weeks that is not specifically about India.]