I’ve written previously about my experiences on the Mumbai public transport system. Now I would like to share with you my newfound love, my daily joy in sunny yellow, my savior from traffic jams, chore rickshaw drivers and being pretty much beaten up getting on and off local trains – introducing Sunny Scootoni – my sexy, Italian and rather stylish scooter.
She’s daring, a fast woman in bike form with matching retro yellow helmet. She doesn’t care how loud you beep your horn or if you are on a noisy massive Enfield because you can just eat her goddamn dust at 5mph stuck in a queue of two-wheelers on the side of the highway. No you are not jumping ahead in front of this lady – where are your manners? What happened to chivalry?!
I know she is a little dangerous and my mother does not entirely approve of her but I love her and I hope we will never part. I look forward to waking up to her each morning and coming home from work on her each evening. All the family love riding on her.
I’ve ridden scooters before when I stayed in Goa but always been a little terrified of the Mumbai infamous crazy traffic. Most ex-pats I know have cars with drivers to ferry them safely through the chaos (nothing wrong with this – living the dream!) Not having the option of this luxury coupled with depressing journeys in OLA cabs watching the two wheelers zip around me stationary in the traffic jam there was nothing for it but to take a deep breath and ride on regardless! My journey time has halved and I’ve not only become accustomed to but adept at weaving my way through the gridlock.
For others brave or crazy enough to drive/ride in this city here are the unofficial rules of the Indian roads:
- Lane discipline is not really a concept and undertaking is totally OK.
- Mirrors are also not really a concept. I saw a lady the other day who had chosen to gaffer tape carrier bags over hers because it was raining or because she was a lunatic, I’m not entirely sure. Instead of relying on your fellow drivers to see you in their mirrors, it is customary to beep the shit out of your horn when overtaking and take responsibility for your own life by making it’s presence heard.
- Many places in town have no horn beeping signs. These are largely ignored.
- Horn beeping is not considered rude or something done in anger as it is in many other places in the world. However it is often rude and done in anger. It is also really annoying if you live anywhere near a road until your brain creates a natural filter to ignore it.
- Right of way is who pulls out first in front of the other, unless you are a bus.
- At busy times traffic cops will direct traffic at various junctions. They are largely ignored just as traffic lights are.
- Helmets must be worn by law but only if you are the driver – your wife, sister, four children and goat that are also traveling on your bike need not wear one.
- Paise gets you everywhere in matters involving traffic cops.
- Pot holes, pot holes everywhere. And cows. And pedestrians with death wishes.
- The existence of the pavement is another thing that is not really a concept, certainly not as an area for walking on anyway. Setting up a shop selling pani puri, corn specialist treatment, place to tie up your goat/cow, or housing four generations of a family under a single piece of tarpaulin on the other hand….
- Men dressed as women clapping at traffic lights is a common sight, as are people selling all sorts of plastic crap and hot nuts, people with no legs on skateboards and small skinny children with big pleading eyes. They all want your money and they all break my heart when I see them.