Beggars on causeway
This was one of the most disturbing scenes I saw whilst touring around India and it will stay in my mind for a long time. The causeway that leads to Haji Ali's Mosque in northern Mumbai, is lined with beggars from all walks of life. Many of them are disabled in some way - blind, crippled, missing limbs etc. My most vivid memory is that of four guys lying on their sides facing each other and chanting whilst wiggling their amputated limbs in the air. Go to the mosque by all means but bear in mind that you'll encounter scenes that you don't witness everyday in your own country. The causeway is also a bit of a tourist trap with dozens of stalls selling cheap stuff that no-one needs.
It used to be said that breathing the air of Mumbai was analogous to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. Well, more recent studies have updated that figure to four packs a day! The air was horrific the week I was there, asthmatics don’t have a chance in this city. While this was the worst air I chanced upon in India, the air in Delhi and Agra, smothered under a late Fall inversion, was hardly any better.
Figures: Mumbai occupies a small 20 kilometer long peninsula which is home to over 16 million people or some 60000 people per square km - Hong Kong, by comparison, is 11000 people pe square km and London is a mere 1200. Population growth is 33% per decade as Mumbai still represents the financial chance for many in rural India to escape poverty - the ‘Golden City’.
All these people in a small area means traffic gridlock. The average speed is below 10km/hr. Parking is non-existent. Lights seem to be optional at night and honking your horn at least every 30 seconds seems to be mandatory. In the week of driving around Mumbai, our group was involved in three minor accidents, a figure that may or may not be typical - looking at the cars on the road, I lean towards it being the norm. Figure on at least an hour drive from the airport to South Mumbai and maybe more to be on the safe side. The distance is only 14 kms.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Business Travel
Buying train tickets
Where there is supposed to be a queue in the train station, you have to be a bit of an uncivilised git and go right to the front of it, pushing and shoving everyone else out of your way. If you don't do this, you may never even get your ticket for hours. Staff at the counters can be the most unhelpful at times. They decide when to close the counter for a break even when his customer is literally right in front of him waiting. He then goes do whatever he wants to do - mostly just sitting round the desk chatting away like nobody's business.
In mumbai you will get lots of small stalls selling pirated cd's and dvd's it will cost you around 50rs per movie and 50 rs per dvd. Also in 20 rs you will get a latest mp3 cd. But lots of shops selling false cd's or cd's containing viruses. They are giving you replacement warranty means if you are not able to watch the movie or the cd contains different movies than they will give you same replacement but lots of time it happens that you may not find the stall from where you pruchased the same. So it totally depends on the luck.
traveling in local train and mail train
While traveling in local train or mail train (long distance) you should be very much careful with your fellow pessenger. There are lots of incidence happned where the person next to your seat will talk to you as a decent guy , he will try to come close to you, after some time he will offer you something to eat in which there might be some medicine by which you can become unconcious within seconds and he will take all your baggages and valuable things.
In some trains even after reservation compartment there will not be any reservation system. Try to travel in 3 tier a/c where you can have comparitively less trouble.
Elephanta Cave Bites
Make sure you wear mosquito repellant to the island especially in the warmer months. Inside the caves in particular those mozzies are rampant. You will spend all your time fending them off if you don’t.Related to:
- Religious Travel
Just be warned if you take you phone with you to India and use roaming, the local networks are prone to spam you with all kinds of exciting giveaways and suggestions in text messages. Depending on your home network, you may get charged for these.
A couple of times I got the same text message over and over again.
There are many hazards when you take to the roads. One of which are wandering cows…. These can appear anywhere and are not bothered by the honking horns or crazy traffic, they will take their own time getting to where they want to go. Not quite what I expected outside of my hotel.
Taxi Meter in Mumbai
Every Taxi in Mumbai has a Manual Meter located infront of the window , so whenever you hire a taxi , Pay according to the meter fare card which is always with the driver . Match the meter code with the Taxi Fare card and then pay him.
Avoid all type of bargaining as meter fare card is accepted as legal only.Just ask any local people help if a taxi driver is charging you more than the fare card .The locals will teach him a good lesson for cheating passengers.
Only if its midnite from 12am to 6am , they charge a bit more than the fare card . half a fare more than the actual fare , so that shouldnt be a problem.
Ok guys Have fun in Mumbai...Enjoy your Rides !!!Related to:
- Road Trip
Bombay is famous for its smog. Most of which comes from vehicular emissions, and the traffic jams dont help.
There are various measures being talked about to control pollution, but most are yet to be implemented.
Some suggest that an example - like the Supreme court reacting to a public interest litigation, and passing orders on pending measures, is the need of the hour...Related to:
- Business Travel
- Road Trip
Armed and Dangerous...
While the touts and beggars are pretty bad most anywhere you go in India, the "Balloon Guys" in Mumbai take it to a whole new level...
Before this poor unsuspecting tourist can even jump out of his cab, he is already being stalked by a balloon tout, wielding his inflated club in a most onerous manner.... (kinda looks like a 3 foot long turkey leg, or maybe one of those Flintstone clubs that Fred used to whack Barney over the head with....)
Anyway, be alert, you have been warned... ;o))
Taxis are plenty full in Mumbai and an easy way to negotiate ones way around. I have learnt to negotiate my rate before hand; if I find it is exuberant I move on and find another taxi. Rates are reasonable and you should not pay really more. However you will find that after the taxi has dropped you off in most of the times he will want a higher rate. Just pay him the agreed rate, be persistent and leave.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
Walking at Night
This is not to say that it is dangerous at night, but (how to say this) at night it is really dark due to the street lamps (or lack thereof) and thus your surroundings seem totally different. This is fine on main streets where you have lots of landmarks, but other places everything looks the same, and on Colaby Causeway at 2 or 3 in the morning it is best to walk in the street then on the sidewalk - not that it is dangerous, but not to disturb the pavement dwellers who are trying to catch a few moments of semi-peaceful sleep. Plus as the pavement can (is) uneven you can trip easily.
That said the big difference is that there are not that many people on the street after midnight so it can feel a bit eerie.
Do Not Touch Unattended Objects Anywhere!!!
Do Not Touch Unattended Objects Anywhere!!! This applies to any unattended objects like small packets or bags or briefcases left unattended in local transport like buses, trains and taxi cabs as there is a high risk of it being something explosive as recently it has been found to trigger bomb blasts all over the city. So be careful when you see something like this at any place and just inform the nearest police or security personnel in the vicinity!!! Take care of your own personal safety!!! And have a safe journey in Mumbai!!!Related to:
- Family Travel
Two warnings go with this market ~ which is, nonetheless, a place I recommend visiting:
#1 There is an animal market behind the covered market; if you're sensitive about the conditions that animals are kept in, skip this! Those are puppies in the front cage and the heat was cruel.
#2 You may be stopped at the entrance to the market (I was on my second visit) and told that you need a guide to enter. There were two men who forcefully insisted that tourists were not allowed inside without an accompanying "shopper". . .I was turning to walk away before they finally relented. Anyone can enter ~ and shop his/her own.
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