This has been on the list for a very long time. It was time I write about it. In all the cities I have lived in, Mumbai has been the city where I have travelled by such varied means of public transport that it is almost crazy! Autos, taxis, ferries, metro and the local.. the monstrous journeys in the local, will come back to this later.
So in Delhi, it used to be really mechanical, you hire an auto, haggle, fight, reach your destination and pray to God that you reached the destination safely, specially if it’s a cycle-rickshaw which are mostly inspired from Fast and the Furious stunt scenes. I kid you not. They don’t use brakes, they just turn the wheel perpendicularly to stop!
In Mumbai, the first time I travelled was using a local. My father went in to men’s compartment and I went into the women’s compartment. It was really weird, women kept asking me if I had to get down at the next stop. There was space to sit and yet no one wanted to, unlike the Delhi Metro where grabbing the seat is almost like a game of Dog in the Bone!
The Auto Rickshaws run only on Meter! The best part about Mumbai. If you go and ask how much they will take to reach a certain place, they will be surprised because only the meter knows! So Mumbai is a really safe city compared to any other. I used to take rickshaws alone at 2 and 3 at night to reach back home. Once I took a rickshaw from a friend’s house to my home, it was a new route and I was dazed (due to some obvious reasons) and I just couldn’t figure out where I was going. I finally saw a familiar landmark and directed the driver. He had figured out that I wasn’t really in my senses and when he dropped me on the other side of the road, he was really concerned. He told me to get back into the auto and he took a U-turn from further down the road and dropped me at my doorstep. I was so thankful. He didn’t even ask me for extra money for taking a detour. Now tell me if this could ever happen in Delhi!
Then there are the friendly UP-Bihar taxi drivers. Trust me you can find no better entertainers once they realise you are from their hometown. I once met a Taxi-Driver who literally had a house 2 kilometre from my house in Lucknow. And her daughter went to a school right next to mine. He was so ecstatic on knowing I was from Lucknow, he almost passed through the destination he was supposed to drop us at!
All in all I have never had bad experiences, except in the local where the struggle for your life is real! Shit gets serious when you travel in a Mumbai Local. Once I was hanging by the handle bars above, LITERALLY, because the crowd was so much you couldn’t even place your feet on the ground. It felt like I had to cross a row of Monkey bars to reach the door.
Trust me, if you’re a newbie, leave early and take the bus. 😛