If travel is education, then Mumbai is a teacher. I had an opportunity to take a 7 days crash course from this teacher and I hope the wisdom acquired stays with me. I went to museum, I saw play in theater, I enjoyed street food but something that stuck with me was the spirit of the city. In between all the chaos there is an order which keeps the city in place. After all a city with more than 10 million people requires some automated internal management.
Yes, Mumbai is crowded, polluted, humid, expensive and not a place which would be first choice of any one to settle down. But despite all the problems, ‘Mumbaikars’ love their city and if you stay in the city for few days you can figure out the reason yourself. Efficiency has been embedded into the lifestyle of everyone and you can witness the examples of effective utilization of time and available resources everywhere.
The way local trains operate is an important case study taught by the teacher Mumbai. Their departure times are scaled to minutes and nowhere else in India you will find departure times like 10:28 AM. At the ticket counters, queues move at a brisk rate and I never noticed any delay because of issues like non-availability of proper change. People get in proper queues and no one is jumping those. Trains arrive at correct time unless there are situations like flooding which are beyond control. Inside local trains you can watch people utilizing their time in different ways. The whole local train eco-system is lifeline of city.
Moving from trains to road will also make you notice some differences. Although traffic conditions on the roads is not much different from the other bigger cities of India, still traffic sense of people is much better than rest of India. If you hire an auto, you actually get to pay on metered rate and also get your change back. I am not saying walking on road is like walking on red carpet but experience on road is a bit better than other cities.
Mumbai has food and transport options for all the budgets. It’s cheap to travel far distances in train/bus combination and adding the street food in your plan can help your travel in Mumbai at reasonable amount. There are various destinations which are absolutely free to destinations with a nominal fee. So if you can somehow manage the accommodation, you can travel in Mumbai on a tight budget.
My agenda for this trip was not to cover all 50 destinations so I am not going to tell how to cover all places. But I can tell you that going to Nehru Planetarium along with your kids will be good experience for entire family. I can also tell you walking on Marine Drive is one of the most romantic thing you can do in Mumbai although people do take their romance further 🙂 . It’s actually not about what I can tell you to do in Mumbai. It’s about taking one step further toward travel maturity where you travel a city in your own style, doing things which you want to do and being happy about the fact that you are able to walk peacefully where everyone is running around.
There has been written so much about Mumbai in the past and will be written in the future, but these are my notes taken during the lectures of crash course. I do not see myself suitable for the fast paced life of this city for long-term stay but I like the short stays in city. I don’t have crush on my teacher but I respect it.
Note: As I wrote this post, I read about the unfortunate incident of stampede in Mumbai :(. Sad to read about death of more than 20 people. May their soul rest in peace. I know the incident is not in line with the post, but the whole point of post was to show the positive things in Mumbai which has its share of problems as well.