Sunday Surprise

I drove to Andheri West, Bandra West and Dadar East today. I had small jobs to do, like fixing the watches, buying tennis racquet’s grip, et al.

I left at 10:45 AM Sunday morning, hoping to beat all the traffic and reach my destinations ahead of my planned time schedule.

Well, in Mumbai one should not be surprised with the little surprises which the city throws at one very regularly. So, expectations have to be lower to start with.

While I had moderated expectations over the years, I was again surprised with the heavy traffic in Andheri West and all the way to Bandra West via Khar West and Santacruz West. Full of cars, and pedestrians darting across the roads constantly. I always used to think what happens if one of the pedestrians get hurt by speeding traffic, like it happens so many times in Mumbai. They are not supposed to cross the main roads at any place they like to cross, and do not follow traffic regulations – as bad as the car or lorry or bus drivers. But, I have long since realized that the onus is always on the mechanized vehicle’s driver, as the control of the vehicle determines whether there is an accident or not.

One gets constantly annoyed with the vehicles parked in a dangerous and haphazard manner on the left side, taking away virtually one-third of the road. But can one complain – it will fall on deaf ears, or worse, no ears.

It took more than 45 minutes to reach Bandra which should have taken less than 30 minutes, but one has to adjust and carry on with life. Again, there was no parking space anywhere I wanted to go, so we had to take a detour on the back alleys to park the car and walk to the main road. Such an approach is far better than occupying space on the main road, which while not illegal, takes up valuable space hindering the main road traffic.

I was also surprised to note the number of consumer-oriented shops between Andheri and Bandra – a huge number. I must have counted atleast 4 to 5 Reebok and Adidas shops, 2 to 3 Raymonds shops, 5 to 6 watch shops, many shopping malls, a series of banks, etc., etc., all demanding the customers to park their cars elsewhere while shopping. Urban planning in Mumbai is non-existent. This is the status in a better part of the Western Suburbs, imagine the other locations.

This last statement was immediately proved, when I crossed from Bandra West to Bandra East, and then via Dharavi to Dadar East. There was hardly any space on the roads, with cars struggling to move ahead along with a variety of other vehicles, all this on a Sunday morning which I thought would be relatively easier to commute on the roads. Well, Dharavi and Dadar were very congested, thick with people out on the streets shopping for vegetables and groceries, and cars all over the place. How can traffic work in an organized manner in such a situation ? At many junctions, there were no traffic signals, so people just drive into the already heavy traffic with the sole intent of cutting across the road and move as far to the right as they could possibly can.

Terrible. But life goes on.

Well, the positive thing was that it took me just 30 minutes to reach my home all the way from Dadar, with relatively less traffic on the Western Express Highway, which felt really good. In the midst of all the chaos in Dadar, I was able to spot a Subway outlet and pick up some food on the way.

I crossed heavy construction on the road, meant for the metro (MRT), which is fast coming up in the middle of all this stuff !

Things are changing in India, but not fully yet. One has to move on almost relentlessly, otherwise one will be totally left out – faster than in other countries !


Vijay Srinivasan
21st November 2010


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