Above is me almost getting hit by a car (constantly) and absolutely loving Mumbai.
Today we have been out and about for a week, which is not much at all, but we’ve already gotten so many sweet friends, enhanced our road-crossing skills and been in a lot (LOT!) of Indian selfies. And we are absolutely in love with this country!
I have the best travel buddy and boyfriend anyone could dream of, who can be accredited for all the good pictures we have so far. Everyone we meet are so wonderful and strangers come to our rescue every time we are even the slightest lost.
On the local train that we unintentionally took in peak time, a team of strangers made sure that we had seats and spent about 7 minutes reorganising everyone on our carriage, so that we could get easily through the 100 people crowd on the 10 square meter coach, to get safely off at our stop.
The train in India in peak time is an amazing experience if one is comfortable with being dragged with the current of a massive wave in the ocean. Except the ocean is a train platform, and the wave is 20 Indian men.
We were travelling around 2pm, so were thinking that we were avoiding the peak hours – in accordance with unanimous advice from every India guide. As we found out (much) later, we did not, as people usually work half day on Saturdays. After sitting on a first class express train at the platform for a suspiciously long time, we were guided to the local train we were actually supposed to take. The platform was absolutely crowded, so we sneaked in front of the human swarm in fear of not getting on.
This is by the way an unreasonable fear in India – there is ALWAYS room for more people, for better and for worse.
In front of the crowd we felt pretty calm, until the train approached. As soon as it met the platform, some of the fastest women grabbed on to the open doors and jumped on the train in speed. With no doubt the best way to secure a seat.
As the train slowed down a roaring sound of shouting men started on an instant. And I, who are used to Norway, where people swallow their sneezes in fear of making noise on the public transport, immediately thought something was wrong. Like if a fight was breaking out, or someone had fallen on the platform. I turned around only to realise that the noise was from the 500 people who were all planning to get first in line for the train doors as well. There was absolutely no other possible choice, than to float with the human swarm on to the train.
Only to, as unknowing as we are, got on the luggage carriage. Which does not mean there are less people, but that there is also massive pieces of luggage present. By luggage I mean for example 30 massive cow-milk metal holders, suitcases, musical instruments and baskets full of whatever you can imagine. The stray dogs luckily stayed behind on the platform.
But people are so helpful. And even though we at one point wondered “how the heck are we gonna get off this”, most of the people onboard were ready to help out. Those who spoke English fired up conversations to the best of their abilities, others shouted in Hindi to make sure we were standing (reasonably) comfortably, and those sitting down offered to give up their seats (on the floor). And everyone wanted to help us find the right station.
The hospitality is amazing, and last night we were even called up on stage and given flowers for attending the most awesome college show ever, as part of the Annual Function at the Laxman Devram Sonawane College.
Of course there is undoubtedly a big backside of the coin in India as well, with extreme poverty, homelessness and a range of human rights violations from countless parties. There is more than enough to write about that too, but that will be for another time. Maybe soon enough, as next week we are going to visit an organisation that works with combating human trafficking and sexual exploitation in the massive red light district of Mumbai.
But for now, this will remain an India-loving post – Marthe out!