Mumbai: First Impressions

We’ve been in Mumbai for about 18 hours, and it’s been pretty great so far. We are staying in the “Fort” area, in South Mumbai, a relatively wealthy and touristy area. Normally, that’s kind of annoying, but when you’re sleep-deprived, experiencing jet lag from an 11.5 hour time change, and in a massive city for the first time, it’s pretty comforting.

Mumbai is one of the most populous cities in the world, and the sights and sounds here bear that out. The streets are a chaotic

Food truck in Mumbai – a modified bus with tables and chairs inside.

mishmash of cars, auto-rickshaws, bicycles, scooters, people, and a few cows just for good measure. The soundtrack of the streets is constant honking. Normally, honking bothers me especially when it seems to be pointless honking, but here for some reason it doesn’t. I guess it’s because it’s so constant and persistent that it’s more like background noise than a jarring “out of nowhere” noise. Oh, and it’s not pointless – honks let other drivers and pedestrians know “hey, I’m right here”. I’m guessing mirror usage is at an all-time low here because you hardly need them. Just listen for the honking.

The traffic (vehicular and pedestrian) pretty much follows the rules here, unlike in Vietnam. There, everyone ignored traffic lights, people crossed whenever, and there were no cops around to enforce anything. Here, when the lights turn red… cars stop! When the sign says don’t walk, people don’t walk (mostly)! And much to our surprise, there were traffic police at a few particularly busy intersections directing flow and enforcing the rules. We spent the majority of the day just walking around, and it was a breeze – truly pleasant.

We came here prepared for utter craziness, insanity, bad smells, and garbage in the streets. Instead, we’re seeing a modern, extremely crowded, relatively clean, huge city. A lot of that probably has to do with where we’re staying, and we will probably see the other sides of Mumbai over the coming days. But so far, Mumbai is awesome.

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