Tag Archives: traffic

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.

Relaxing peals and dances.

7:00 in the evening, I hear the church bells playing in the neighborhood, as they do a few times a day, on a schedule that is ever the same but at intervals that make us think, “Why now?” It’s always the same few measures of a tune that seems to me very like a setting I know to “The Lord is My Shepherd, I’ll Walk With Him Always.” It is a recorded pealing, but effective at reminding me of the presence of joy.

Today especially I’ve been noticing all the many sounds that waft up to the eighth floor where Kate and Tom live, and where I am staying long enough that it feels natural so say, “…where we live.” Crows and hawks and other birds swoop back and forth all day in the large open area viewed from the dining room, and their voices come in to our space, too, as do those of children in the play yard of the pink convent school you can see in the middle of this photo I took. Those same birds are blocked from nesting on the balcony by that netting you see.

I took the picture when Kareena was washing the only balcony that one can’t access any other way than by climbing through a picture window, so while it was open I grabbed the opportunity.

On the street below, traffic hums and roars and honks constantly. From the balcony off my room I love to watch an intersection where all manner of pedestrians and vehicles are in a continual dance, the players fewer or more as they ceaselessly enter and exit the “stage” in a serene choreography. In India the honking is not angry or agitated, but might be translated, “Let’s all be careful and notice each other! You, lady, walking in front of me, please be aware that I am driving your way; if you keep your speed constant, I promise to clear your tender flesh by at least six inches.”

The pace of life in a household where a three-week-old baby lives should be restful, and ours is wonderfully so. The outdoor sounds are somewhat muted, and plenty of white noise emanates from the various household machines that clean and condition the air and help to keep home as a refuge from the buzzing streets and polluted atmosphere. The tiny boy’s burps and squeaks are my favorite sounds around.

Our outings since the baby arrived have been brief, and not every day. The people who don’t get the sleep they need at night are often able to take naps. Kareena has begun to offer us a cup of masala chai in the late afternoon, and I just might end up making that a habit.

Yesterday afternoon Kate and I sat on the couch for a long time with little Raj, wondering at his constant funny expressions and erratic arm motions, as he lay on her lap looking up into That Face that will soon become most beloved. Kate put on some Bollywood music and the two of them arm-danced for a long time to the lively and happy music.

Some days, this is a good time for Raj to have his bath in the kitchen sink, the one sink in the apartment large enough to easily accommodate his flexible bath cushion while he lounges with an attitude befitting royalty relaxing in a deck chair.

What a life!