On Day 2 of our trip, we asked our new friend and tour guide, Jay from Viva Group, if the drivers in Mumbai followed any kind of traffic laws or rules. He laughed and responded — “our rules.” This funny but true answer applies incredibly well to the experience we have had in India so far. We can all make comparisons to other countries and cities we have visited, but Mumbai really is like no other city.
As expected, the roads are incredibly packed. There are small cars, buses, trucks carrying sand, taxis, motorcycles and mopeds, bikes, tuk-tuks, and even cows. Tuk-tuks are smaller cabs, only have 3 wheels, and there are no doors! Additionally, people walk on the sides of the streets as most sidewalks are filled with locals selling souvenirs, food, clothing, etc. There are painted lines for lanes on major roads, but the majority of commuters do not stay within those lanes. We have noticed that instead of using blinkers, cars and bikes honk. This makes for a quite exciting yet terrifying ride!
We also had the opportunity to take the train from one end in Virar, all the way to downtown Mumbai where we joined many others at the Mumbai Indians vs. Chennai Super Kings cricket match. The ride took over an hour, but thankfully it was past rush hour and we were able to get seats. The train was enjoyable; we were able to see some sights outside of the city and spend time relaxing. As we got close to our destination, we were warned to stay away from the exits (also without doors) but were not sure why. As the train slowed, many from outside jumped on and ran to get seats! This was a shock to us all and our tour guides clearly enjoyed our reactions.
Despite how hectic Mumbai has been, the people we have met and are working with are incredibly hospitable and nice. We have felt so welcomed by our hosts (Viva Group) and have greatly valued the time they have taken out of their busy days to show us around the city and introduce us to their offices and employees. We are looking forward to working with them over the course of the next week-and-a-half and learning more about Mumbai!