Humanity in movement

Ramblings from a Mumbai taxi by guest blogger Mr Vijay Srinivasan

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The scene: Taxi ride from the Airport to South Mumbai.

Weather conditions: Mild November sun at 4:15 PM

There seems to be a patient and tolerant existence amongst the Haves and Have-Nots in this kaleidoscopic society, which was clearly evidenced during the aftermath of the rains in July – August of this year, which tried to break the backs of the city’s inhabitants. The rich in South Mumbai and Juhu seem to be mixing without a trace of annoyance into the general crowd on the roads in their Honda Accords, Camrys, Porsches, Prados, Mercedez Benzes, BMWs, and are not expecting the sleekness on the roads or nice treatment from compatriots who might just possess lesser cars such as Maruti, Ford, Hyundai, Chevrolet, Scorpion, et al. Here all travellers face umpteen varieties of all sorts of vehicular traffic which compete on pot-holed, uneven roads, which are good in select sections, and quickly deteriorate into muddy broken pieces of tract, without skirting or borders.

You look out of the window (your car is most likely to be of the “lesser” variety), and you see buses without doors, modern cars, cycles, pedestrians walking on the road since there is no pavement, jeeps, lorries which have spilled their contents or sport protrusions of their contents which could be threatening to any followers, taxis from the yesteryears with no signal lights, taxi-drivers who use their hands as signals, occasional cows, autos, three-wheeled cargo transporters, rickshaws, dogs, scooters, motorcycles, parked vehicles, et al.

I do not see jealousy in the eyes of the pedestrians who look at the maddening traffic with a hint of annoyance. Right now, I see a number of people standing on the road divider, waiting to cross the road to the other side. Pedestrian crossings do not work here, as the zebra markings are almost fading off, and nobody understands the need for these crossings, when everybody can cross everywhere on the roads anyway !

As the cost of economic expansion grows by the day, we can see roads getting dug up all over – they are laying fiber optic cables for the future when most people in the city of 14 million subsist on USD 2 per day. The city of Mumbai pays one-third of all of India’s income taxes and corporate taxes though. The very small percentage of people in South Mumbai are extremely wealthy, even by advanced economy standards. The junior most executive of Warburg Pincus made USD 1 million just as bonus for this year!