Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tales from the Streets of Mumbai

Within the first few days of my arrival in Mumbai, my flat mate and old college buddy who welcomed me there told me, “As you must have realized, this is a city very different from how we have seen life in Delhi. It’s been just a week since your arrival and you have seen such a different way of life here. Just imagine how much you are going to learn in the weeks that are yet to come. Each and every day we get to learn something new in this city.”
 
Captured this amusing scene at Marine Drive. Walking from Nariman Point to Churchgate and getting caught in the rains unaware.
(August 2014)
I stayed in Mumbai for one and a half months and was back there again last month for a week to attend a film festival. Such a short time, but I have non-exhaustive tales to tell from my experiences in the city. A change in metro, change in language and the lingo, the fact that I was from Delhi- all of it made some leaf turn and added new experiences to my memory. Here I am sharing a few of these amusing tales, which I am glad I got to witness first hand. I hope you enjoy going through each one of them.

I.

It was in mid-May that I first arrived in Mumbai. As I took an auto from the railway station to our residence, I got into a friendly chat with the driver. I asked him about the weather, when it rained last, because it was 8 AM and I was drenched in sweat. He asked me if I was there for the first time. I agreed. He proudly talked about Mumbai, his city. When I was just about to reach, he asked where I was coming from. “Delhi”. His face twitched. He didn’t want to talk further. I was left to guess what happened at the mention of ‘Delhi’.

In the next few days, I faced similar situations again and again. ‘For reason unknown to me, Mumbaikars hate Delhiites’, my friend informed me. He also told me a few things which would probably call for better conversation in the future- ‘Address them as ‘boss’. They consider ‘bhaiya’ derogatory.’ I assume ‘bhaiya’ or ‘bhai’ either means you are referring to Sallu bhai (and so, you can’t use the term for anybody else, purely out of respect) or the underworld ‘bhais’. It took me a while to try and change my lingo from ‘bhaiya’ to ‘boss’. Although even at the end of my 1.5 month long stay, there were moments when I would call up ‘bhaiya’ and then immediately turn to ‘boss’!


II.

I was completely awed with the availability of food in Mumbai almost 24x7. You just can’t go hungry in the city at any time!

One evening I was hungry and proceeded to the street food stalls near my residence. This was the conversation that followed:

“Bhaiya, gol gappe kaise diye?” I asked. (What’s the price of the golgappe you are selling?)
“Rs.20 ke 8”, he replied. (8 pieces for Rs.20)
“Chalo ek plate de do.” (Ok, serve me one plate)
“Kahan se aaye ho?” (Where are you from?)
I think for a while, why is he inquirying.
“Delhi se.” (I am from Delhi)
“Samajh gaya tha mai,” he replied with a smirk. (I guessed that!)

And then it struck me- I am in Mumbai and they don’t have golgappe here. They have ‘pani-puri’. One food, so many names. We call it gupchup back at home in Odisha.


III.

In Delhi, there are auto-rickshaws a.k.a. autos and cycle-rickshaws a.k.a. rickshaws.

In Mumbai, there are only auto-rickshaws a.k.a. rickshaws.

Keep shouting ‘auto’ in the middle of the road, not one of the yellow-green vehicles is going to stop. Then realize that you are in Mumbai and start shouting ‘rickshaw’. They will hear you and probably stop. The word ‘auto’ isn’t in Mumbaikars’ vocabulary, I presume, at least in the context of the three-wheeled vehicle!


IV.

One day, I was headed from Goregaon West station to Bangur Nagar in an auto a.k.a. rickshaw. As we neared the MG Road-Linking Road crossing, I told the driver, “Red light se right lena”. (Take the right turn from the red light)

He started turning right immediately.

“Yahaan nahi. Red light se right lena police chowki ki taraf.” (Not right now. Turn right from the red light towards the police station)

“Yahaan pe right lun?” (Should I turn right here?) He pointed at the division on the road, the crossing still a good 200 metres away.

I finally pointed ahead at the crossing, “Wahaan aage se right lena.” (Turn right from there)

“Acha signal se right?” (Ok, turn right from the signal?)

“Hann”, (Yes) I said as I realized ‘red lights’ in Delhi are ‘signals’ in Mumbai!

A fast local passes through Goregaon Station (August 2014)

V.

One morning I was in the local train headed from Goregaon to Churchgate. The train was not very crowded, but all the seats were taken and there were few people standing.

As the train reached Dadar station, an old man got up and offered his seat to a young man standing nearby and said, 'Mil baantke rehna chahiye'. (We should share whatever we have)

The simple gesture took me by surprise.


Moreover, it's like everyone who travels daily in the local, has their fixed train and fixed seat in the fixed compartment in the train. They have basic knowledge regarding their nearby co-passengers (perhaps people they have been commuting with daily since many years), who seats where and who gets down where. Isn’t it amazing?


PS: As I opened Blogger to post this entry, I realised this is the 250th post on the blog. A milestone I would call it. Way to go! ;)

Other posts with the Mumbai adventure:
1. #Mumbai: 40 Days of Adventure
2. Delhi-vs-Mumbai: Travelling in a City Bus
3. A Petrifying Experience on the Mumbai Locals

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