Driving in Mumbai is very difficult. People who drive on the streets of Mumbai have to be out of their mind. This is the only way they can drive with confidence. They have to be like blind psychos. There is no other way. If you are a Mumbaikar, you will know what I mean. If not, sit back and read to the end. You should be warned. Things could get ugly.
Why I almost suffer minor strokes while driving in Mumbai?
My heart is still pounding. It’s beating while skipping a few beats here and there. In fact, I don’t think it is beating anymore, I think it’s just humming. That’s all the energy it has left. My mind is taking turns around every corner and speed breaker. Did I go wrong? Should I have stopped or was slowing down my only option? That’s right! I drove on the Mumbai streets.
Let us begin with driving in Virar. Driving on the streets of Virar west is better than driving anywhere else in Mumbai, the actual Mumbai. Virar is easy to drive but my heart was still pounding. My dad sits next to me, so that’s an added cry for help. He gets scared and lets out some jolting comments at me but I don’t blame him. I would be scared if my 31-year-old ‘kid’ was sitting behind those wheels. I have a phobia of driving because I just have one. Never have I wanted to drive, ever. I have seen the way Mumbaikars drive. It’s horrendous. I am a Mumbaikar by the way but I don’t want to drive like that. I guess I have no choice. You can’t drive responsibly when everyone around does exactly the opposite.
How do Mumbaikars drive?
With utmost irresponsibility! No discipline. It’s like a cult. Mumbai is the most crowded, over-crowded part of Maharashtra. Moving on from Virar to places like Dadar, Andheri, Bandra, and every other part of Mumbai. There are people everywhere and cars, bikes, so many bikes, rickshaws, taxis, buses, beggars, vendors, shops, etc, etc, etc. There are footpaths which are barely visible because they’ve either been taken over by vendors or slow walkers. Have you ever heard of Mumbai Walkers? Here’s what you should be warned about Mumbai streetwalkers. They are no less as compared to drivers. The Mumbai walkers have no respect for the cars that drive by. They do not realize that the driver has applied emergency breaks to save you and not the other way around.
Don’t get me started on bikers who drive in Mumbai!
I want to learn to ride a bike. Understanding the psyche of a biker’s mind is important before I pass judgement. I want to see why they drive so badly. Oh but they drive very skilfully and very well. It’s just that they drive irresponsibly. They drive like their life depends on it. But no, they don’t. If their life depended on it, they would drive responsibly.
They come out of nowhere and so fast that it takes time to understand what the hell just happened! Bikers, as I observed over the past several years, have this jarring tendency to be reckless. Not all bikers drive this way but a majority of them do.
Bikes are the riskiest of all vehicles driving in Mumbai. You can still be saved in a car but not on a bike. Bikers in Mumbai will try to fit in any space they can find in order to get ahead in line of the traffic. I admire their enthusiasm or impatience, whatever you can call it. If they would have practiced this habit in other parts of their life, India would be a better country today.
Like cockroaches, they will squeeze through the traffic. I had to write the word even though I didn’t want to but this is how bikers behave. If you know the nature of this crustacean, you will know how rash bikers are. They drive carelessly and put their lives as well as others at risk.
I am not a hater but seriously, this thoughtless manner of driving needs to end.
Some bikers I know drive responsibly in Mumbai
Friends, behind whom I have sat on a bike (after warning them about my fragile life), have driven like angels. They know when to take a turn and when to stop. Some bikers I have seen get in the way of cars just so that can move ahead in line. They also create scratches on other vehicles in doing so. Obviously, bikers won’t pay for making those scratches. This is utter selfishness and greed for snatching time. It’s disgusting behavior and this type of driving in Mumbai needs to stop.
When men drive in Mumbai
It’s funny how people point out the flaw of female drivers when they drive too slow or miss a sign. You hear people say the clichéd line, “Oh, it’s a female.” Yeah bruh, it’s a female but have you noticed that no one points out a male driver’s mistake like that? I may sound like a feminist here and am happy to! When men drive in Mumbai, notice that they do not give a right or left indication when taking a turn. They just take an abrupt turn or pop out of a lane without honking. Sound familiar? You are driving and suddenly, you find a car spring in front of you like a bull just saw red. You know what I would say to that with a raised eyebrow? “Oh, it’s a male.”
The challenges for those who drive in Mumbai
– The people of Mumbai are deprived of facilities. Road construction is mayhem here all the time. Every road or footpath undergoes repair with the cheapest of quality. I don’t think that quality is a word anyone knows here. By anyone, I mean BMC. They don’t want us to point fingers and play the blame game. Well, let me remind them, this isn’t a game. Lives are at stake here while driving in Mumbai.
– Potholes are for killing people and are successful in doing so. This year, Virar turned into Venice during the monsoons but not the romantic kind. It was not pretty. The water was dirty but people had no choice but to travel to their offices. So, they walked through the death-infested waters.
– Picture this: You are driving with a speed of 40 but you’re slowing down. Why? The car in front of you suspiciously slowed down. Your speed decreases to 20; the car ahead slows down to snail speed. Yes, the car you drove behind is the car that wants to park or is searching for a parking space. They don’t give you an indication because they want you to curse their existence. Now you have to try and overtake them by looking into the side mirror at the speeding cars passing by. Apart from this catastrophic driving in Mumbai, there’s no space or place to drive. No place or space to park but we have ‘No Parking’ zones. Ironic?
– They are the worst. Have you ever seen a roadrunner behind a wheel? Feast your eyes on these idiots. Ola / Uber drivers think they own the road. They get in the way and squeeze between cars. Just upon entering a bridge, if an Ola or Uber is in front of you, prepare yourself for a spectacle. They pull stunts like taking a U-turn at the start of a bridge – a bridge! The other stunt is when you are driving on the main road and you find a car swooping in from a small lane. Getting into your way without notice. Just swooping right in, making you all jittery, agonized with the fact that there could have been an accident. Yup, T-Taxis are just another version of bikers.
Rickshaws and local taxis
– There are in plenty on the road. That is fine. People need to make a living here but the plenty sometimes does not serve well. They decide whether or not they want to take us to our destination. It’s suddenly their choice. Funny when they complain about the public who prefer to pay more to the stuntmen a.k.a the T-Taxis. A local taxi will stop in the middle of the road or bridge to take in a customer. You have to apply the brakes like your life depended on it. The people of Mumbai really need to learn patience. It’s a virtue ladies and gentlemen! Adopt this habit while driving in Mumbai or while halting a cab in the middle of the running traffic.
– This includes the traffic police and signals. They do a good job but somehow they don’t catch the real offenders. The ones who bully us with their overpowering side turns. Or the ones who stay in the wrong lane and then come in your way to go by the other lane. The signals take forever. When it’s red, it stays red until 200 seconds are done. When it’s green, it stays green until at least, at least 4 cars can drive away.
– These guys have guts. They have the stamina to ride long distances on cycles. Also, they probably can’t afford anything with an engine. I respect this fact but!! How sitting in a car with a strong engine power can you possibly contemplate cycles? One hit and they’re dead. That’s how careful other vehicles have to be when cycle walas ride by without warning. We don’t have separate lanes for cycle walas and they also ride without a license so they can break the rules? So, unfair!
– Another irresponsible lot. No, they won’t look right or left. Just walk and the rest will be fine. This is their policy. Oh and there are some who cross slowly, slowwwwly with their mobiles on their ears. The signal shows green after ages but the pedestrians still want to cross and they do. My blood has never boiled so high. Oh and what can boil it further? The signal turns red and the traffic police never fine the pedestrians for crossing at the wrong time.
Increase in vehicular population in Mumbai
I read a news report by The Times of India last year. The vehicular population in Mumbai had gone up to 3 million. I don’t want to research about it for this year because then I would expect worse. The road length in Mumbai has remained the same just like the habits of driving in Mumbai. The number of private cars and SUVs on the road had crossed the 9 lakh mark.
Is it only going to get worse from here? I seriously don’t have any hope from the BMC. I honestly don’t want to point fingers at them. But if something is wrong, either we wait for them to fix it or we make our own little efforts.
What can we do to improve the conditions of driving in Mumbai?
– Firstly, we need to learn the art of patience. Like I said before, it’s a virtue. If we can be patient with our country’s leaders, we can be patient on the road. We need to let each other pass by and not try to race when driving in Mumbai.
– Use the indicator signs. Show one another that you are going to take a left or a right turn. It will help because when road rage hits you, shit gets real. Show your presence on the road responsibly. An indication never hurt anyone. It will save you in times when the other driver hits your vehicle for not noticing the indication you showed.
– Pull the brakes on your ego. The road is for driving and not for showing them who’s boss. If someone on the road tries to overtake you arrogantly, let them go. It’s the hardest thing to do but you want to let it go. Some drivers do more than just overtake; they try to press onto your track of driving. They have no business to do so but they just do, reasons of which I am still unaware. Stay in your track and don’t move. They can’t come any further. Some, however, are deadly exceptions. Slow down your speed and let them go ahead. Hey, I never said being Mahatma Gandhi was easy but it will be the day you and your family lives.
Do not block
– The worst thing you can do is get in someone’s way. Please be a good Indian and give way. Or wait your turn. The more everyone tries to squeeze, the more chances of a choc-o-block. When the signal turns green, many drivers try to press on other tracks and move ahead. Don’t do this! It’s only going to create a problem for the others. Everybody gets stuck and nobody wins. Be more generous in your method of driving in Mumbai.
Here’s the thing about Mumbai. It’s an amazing city to live in but the people around have taken its existence for granted. Let’s make an effort to be more loving towards our city. We can start small. Let’s start with the right way of driving in Mumbai.
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