Thursday, June 23, 2011
I used to believe that the public transport system in Mumbai is simply awesome, especially when compared to cities like Pune and Hyderabad (where I have spent enough time to experience the sheer trauma at the very thought of traveling) or even Bangalore (about which my friends have told me horror stories which were strengthened by their decisions to buy cars within a year of staying there). Though I have never needed to use the local trains/buses/cabs on a regular basis in Mumbai (I have ALWAYS stayed close to work. In fact I have refused job offers because it would entail traveling by locals in peak hours), I had reasons to believe that this city was almost as good as Kolkata when it came to commuting.
But apparently things have changed, or may be circumstances have changed. So far, I cherished my long walk back home after work because it gave me the opportunity to get the only exercise of the day, to call my parents, to do my grocery shopping, to listen to music, not to mention take some important decisions- all in that 40 minute walk. However, ever since my ACCIDENT (or the INCIDENT as some readers refer to it) last week, I have been robbed of that luxury as now I can barely struggle to drag myself to the main road. And so began my tryst with the Mumbai autowalas, who, I kid you not, are worse than women when it comes to mood swings and unpredictability. It’s easier to predict the Mumbai monsoons than it is to read an autowala’s mind. They have so many constraints: there should be no traffic, the journey should be longer than 19 minutes but less than 29, you should ONLY go in the direction of THEIR destination, irrespective of YOUR own destination, it should be more than fifty bucks otherwise it’s not worth the effort for them, and the list goes on… it’s longer than the list of requirements in Paris Hilton’s future husband (not that I have access to that list). Again, after a year, I am experiencing the trauma of rejection. I thought I was done with them once ALL the companies in India rejected me last year, but now it’s the turn of the autowalas to do the same. These guys are very similar to beautiful, successful intimidating women: you can look, but you can never ask! So many of them around you and yet, not one of them available!
I have tweaked my work timings to fit in my schedule with that of the autowalas. Apparently, they get really crabby after sunset (like me) which is why I come to work at 8 and leave by 5:30, but still every day, as the evening approaches, I suffer from anxiety disorder…and oh, I carry my emergency overnight bag, just in case NO autowala agrees to take me in (despite my limping state, puppy face, fluttering eyelashes and not to mention the promise of an extra 20 bucks) and I have to crash with my friend and ex-roomie- not that she stays in an auto-friendly zone but at least she stays in a neighbourhood close to where a lot of my rich (read car-owning) colleagues live, and therefore I can get a drop. It reminds me of my anxious days in school when I would go for my dance classes in the evening, all the way praying that she wouldn’t hit me.
It’s 3:30 p.m…. wish me luck!