Monday, 16 February 2009

Roots: a slave to the traffic of Mumbai

I am about to leave for home. And am dreading this. The traffic in the evening has been insane of late. The struggle to cover each square feet is epic. It takes me more than an hour to cover a meagre ten kilometers or so. And this is a luxury at Mumbai where people cover much longer distances to come to work.

My chauffeur has just left me. I have terrible luck with drivers in any case. And yes in Sumdog's India we do get help like maids and drivers. I have left myself to the mercy of cabbies now because I don't even want to think of driving back myself. It needs a much stronger man than me. Even marriage hasn't prepared me for the infinite patience required for this.

There are some common causes for traffic in Mumbai:

  • religious - the Wednesday Mass at Mahim, the Ganpathi visarjans, the Eid fairs, Mount Mary fairs... man's love for God touches us in many ways
  • perpetual digging - subways, flyovers, metros, monorails...good intentions, thirty years too late.
  • Sheer bad roads and potholes - Plus repairs are often given to corrupt contractors, the road repairs don't last beyond a season and the karmic circle of repairs continue
  • Jaywalking - India follows a pedestrian first policy
  • Political rallies - rallies could be against historians who write biographies of past heroes, against shops which put signs in English, against migrants who come from other parts of India or for asking for votes for the wonderful job that they do
  • Police checks for terrorists who would be law abiding enough to take the proper roads while on their mission. The objective being to irritate the hell out them I guess
  • Recently we have another cause for traffice - Pratibha Jam. She is India's first female President. She hails from Maharashtra and keeps coming home from the capital, Delhi. She has already clocked the highest number of trips home by an Indian President in office. We never feel her presence in day to day affairs or in matters of State. But she often has this phantom like aura at Mumbai. The city comes to a standstill and we are told that the traffic is due to the visit of this grandmother like lady and her posse of thirty or forty cars. I believe that local officials have thrown up their arms and said that they can't give her a ceremonial welcome if she comes home so often

I wish that our logjams are as logical as these points make it out to be. At times there doesn't seem to be any reason for traffic. That seems to be the scen nowadays. You are just stuck. Too many cars on the road I guess.

Its not that Mumbai is unique. I have seen horrid jams at Istanbul, KL, Bangkok and I believe that London's pretty bad too. But they at least have a slightly more comfortable public transport system than our hard warking local train system which is efficient but dirty, bursting at the seams and a ride through hell.

Anyway let me square my shoulders and go out to face the world out there. After all how long can one avoid this 'emotional atyachaar (torture)'?


Hrishi said...

Hah. Ur better off. I have taken 1hr 15mins to cover 3 kms (From hiranandani, powai to Gandhinagar)


Scarlett said...

You have a good sense of humor. I loved the points about religion, digging & police checks! You won't believe once took me 2 hrs to get from Mahim Church to Bandra!! That was positively the most excruciating traffic experience I've had in Mumbai. And no, it wasn't during the floods. It was on a random Wednesday.

Moonshine said...

These check posts always would come up on the most narrowest congested roads as possible!!!! At least you dont need to travel to andheri... so count your blessings!!!

The knife said...

Well Moonshine, Hrishi...that's the least I could expect for paying a hefty premium to stay at Bandra. In fact my initial years were the best when I took a train from Bandra to my office at dadar. Then my office was at nariman pt but the train still worked for me. I think life become tough as we shifted to a car.
Re: check posts...what would our poor policemen do if the car's actually full of well trained commandos from across the border in any case?
Scarlett: last Friday I picked my Mom from my in laws at Dadar TT at 845 in the evening. Reached Bandra at 950 PM!

The knife said...

I guess i got lucky after I wrote the post yesterday. Hardly face any traffic. Possibly because I left by six or so