‘Quirky Indian Cities’ special series –
Mumbai is magic. If I talk about its quirky side, I think I would say that every bit of it is quirky! If you have lived in Mumbai or spent even a few days there, you should be nodding in agreement. It is a mad city. It is in no way a sane city! Do I like it? No.
I LOVE it.
Although I always loved Mumbai (totally besotted by it), I got to experience it deeply only when I got a chance to live there for four months. I graduated from being infuriated to being in love with it forever.
So, here comes the QUIRKINESS of Mumbai -
1.The super maddening Mumbai local trains can really make your heart race faster.
When I made my debut as a traveller on a Mumbai local (Andheri East station), I was terrified. It was during the peak monsoons, which made the experience even more intense. I hadn’t even anticipated the feeling of travelling on a local; I was already horrified by the chaos and drama at the station. The train station was in an even messier state due to the rains. Everybody seemed to be running (for no reason), and in the midst of all the action, I saw a man sleeping near the ticket counter. He was covered head to toe with a white bed-sheet. And, finally when I hopped onto a train, I sat on the edge of a seat (smelled a mix of odours) and just waited for my station to arrive.
|Mumbai CST station|
2.Nobody goes to bed before 1 o’clock in the night.
Staying up late in Mumbai is a norm. The hustle and bustle of the day continues till late into the night. People go out for movies, pubs, seaside outing and midnight buffets. Also, vendors, newspaper men and other such people keep ringing the doorbell till 9 pm. Perhaps Mumbai is quiet for only a brief period of time, which is around daybreak.
|The night is as lively as the day in Mumbai.|
3.Night-outs and drinking don’t raise eyebrows.
Pubbing and partying are a culture for the locals. Unlike other cities in India, drinking isn’t a hush-hush affair. Well, I am not saying that other metropolitans are conservative about alcohol; Mumbai folks are definitely more liberal about it.
4.People have good traffic sense despite the narrow roads.
Mumbai traffic can be really wearisome. The roads are not too broad, while the vehicles are limitless. People get stuck in traffic jams for hours. Despite all the difficulties, people maintain traffic decorum. Nobody tries to overtake another vehicle mindlessly. Each vehicle keeps distance of at least two feet from the other one, which is not practiced in other cities in India.
|No vehicle runs a race.|
5.Mumbai is a beautiful, yet a dirty city.
Without an iota of doubt, Mumbai is a beautiful harbour city. It has got lovely beaches, lakes, mountain views and scintillating skyscrapers, but on the other hand, there is a lot of garbage in the city. No wonder the city evokes mixed emotions in people. Some people are exasperated by its dirtiness, while some chuckle through its charm.
6.Lovers like to get tanned.
Mumbai is a city of love-birds. You will find couples everywhere you go – Marine Drive promenade, Juhu Beach, Powai Lake and the most infamous one is Bandra Bandstand. The funniest part is that these couples romance in the blazing sun, while the rest of the world is busy at work.
|Gateway Of India|
7.Mumbai has only a few sophisticated neighbourhoods.
Ironically, Mumbai isn’t really a chic city. Even the crème de la crème neighbourhoods in the city, such as Colaba, Juhu and Bandra, are quite modest. You will find old and dilapidated buildings, ordinary streets and pavements. But, there is an undefined charm to these places (maybe because they are connected to Hindi films).
|Hiranandani is one of the few good-looking neighbourhoods of Mumbai.|
8.Mumbai locals are chilled out about their lives.
They enjoy life with the balmy sea breezes, swaying palm trees and the waning sun. It seems they discover something new about their city every day. An average inhabitant in Mumbai, on a daily basis, has to travel long distances for work. But they seem to embrace life the way it comes to them. For instance, you will see women cutting vegetables on local trains to save time.
9.Mumbai rains are magical but crazy.
The three-four months when it rains in Mumbai, everybody soaks into its romance thoroughly. It’s a wonderful time for long drives, lots of coffee and short getaways around the city. But, it is devastating too! There are pools of water everywhere on the streets and you have to walk with your legs dipped deep into the muddy water.
10.The meter system in the taxis and autos is scary.
I found this a bit strange. The meter system in Mumbai works differently. Although it’s commendable that the auto-drivers and cabbies strictly go by the meter, it is quite heart-pinching when the meter keeps pulsing even while the auto is stuck in a long traffic jam. So, if you travel long distance in Mumbai and also get stuck, get ready to pay a whopping amount at the end of the trip. That’s not the case in Delhi – if your auto-driver agrees to go by the meter, you pay only for the kilometres and not for the time.
Have you been to Mumbai? What do you think of it?
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