There is basically two ways to ride a taxi in Mumbai, the hard way or the easy way…. The hard way is going by the black and yellow cabs with no AC. They can be of all sorts. Some old and battered, – Once I sat in one with a big
hole in the floor. Or fairly new ones, not yet worn out by the streets of Mumbai. Well those are good for short rides, they manouvre the traffic amazingly: Like every other car zig zagging their way through the traffic with great confidence. But drivers can be choosy, sometimes they just won’t take you from one place to another. But there’s always another one, and another one, and another one… Mumbai has about 60 000 taxis, but then again – the city has close to 20 million inhabitants.
Going a long distance with these cabs can be a trial sometimes. With no AC it gets hot, when the traffic comes to a standstill you want to open the window and get some air. Instead you get outstretched hands form beggars. As well as the fumes from every other car around. I did one and a half our last night, not until we got to the Worli-Bandra sealink – a new bridge cutting short this distance with sometimes as much as 40 minutes – was I able to breathe freely. But, after passing the bridge at full speed the havoc started again. Slow traffic, honking horns and heat.
Tonight I did 2 hrs in a Meru cab, a fairly new company – and a very proffesional one. One can see quite a few of them in the streets, but not nearly as many as the black and yellow ones. They are green with lots of ads, their drives impeccable and you’ll find a proper meter and a modern display quoting customer and where from to. Instead of feeling drenched after two hours on the road, beating several bottlenecks and struggling through the sea of cars and auto rickshaws and what else, one feels quite OK. Sit back in a train of thoughts or study Mumbai life, and especially now – enjoy the festive Dwali lights!
And then there are of course the three wheelers, or auto rickshaws, or autos or ricks…. There is total 246,458 auto rickshaws in Mumbai. They accomodate three people, and well, perhaps not the most comfortable means of transportation – but it works. In terms of safety – well it depends on which standard one relates too.. They are good for short journeys and cost little. I once took one for more than an hour together with my friend Joan, sometimes squeezed between two buses I didn’t know whether to laugh and cry. It was an experience for sure. They are not allowed in the City, but has to stick to the suburbs.