Mumbai: A Prayer to the Traffic Gods

Originally published on May 21st, 2014 on

There’s something about every place that I’ve travelled to that never makes sense to me. In Rome, it was the cobblestone, because it’s 2014! In London, it was pasta sauce, because my American senses contradict with food that isn’t chemically processed, aka food that only lasts 3 days (b/c it’s supposed to). In Mumbai it’s traffic, because I’m practically allergic to it.

You’ve never seen anything until you’ve seen traffic in Mumbai. Traffic laws/rules are practically inexistent. I’m not sure that if I chose to be adventurous enough to try to drive in Mumbai, that I could even make it 10 feet in a car. Not to mention, they drive on the other side of the road, which in my mind, is a problem in of itself.

Every time we travel these thoughts bounce back and forth in my mind: “Why are the cars practically touching each other?” “If you’re allowing me to walk in front of your car, why are you still driving?

Take your foot off the gas!” “Do pedestrians have any rights here?” “So, is this gonna be a car accident or na?” (but it never is!) “Pretty sure that children here grow up riding motorcycles, nbd.” “I think I’m going to die. I’ll just go to sleep before I worry myself to death– that is, if the traffic doesn’t kill me first.”

In Mumbai (I’m not sure if these vehicles also exist in other parts of India) there’s a taxi-like vehicle called a “rickshaw.” In my mind, it’s an engine-powered, adult-version of the round-topped yellow and red cars that we’d ride around in as children. It’s described on Wikipedia as a “two or three-wheeled passenger cart.” Nothing about less-than-four-wheels sounds safe to me, but it is what it is.

Today is going to be the last day that we’ll take a bus from Sai Palace Hotel to Whistling Woods. We’re supposed to learn the route from Sai Palace to WW, so that we don’t get ripped off when we take the rickshaw, from tomorrow onward. I’m probably the least bit excited about it– not because I don’t trust my sense of direction, which is actually really great, but because I’m scared of the traffic.

Riding the rickshaw is inevitable and I wish that it wasn’t.

Welp, here’s to traveling mercies and building traffic tolerances!