Inspired by this list, I put together my own things to not do in Mumbai. My list isn’t even remotely as funny as his though I hope it’ll be just as useful. Considering Satish got to 84, you’d think I’d have a tough time coming up with more. But they don’t call this the big, bad city for nothing. So here’s my take. Please do NOT do the following, for your own safety, sanity and that of other citizens of this city:
1. Travel by train wearing open sandals. The ladies’ compartment does not include ladylike behaviour, unless that means wearing pointed heels.
2. Travel by train wearing make-up. It’ll get mashed in, rubbed (the wrong way) and put you in spotlight of the squatters on the train floor and make them yell that you should travel by taxi instead.
3. Board the first-class ladies compartment in the middle of the bogey. The station loos are always located right where these stop and it’s next door to the general compartment that houses the besur bhajan brigade. Take the compartments at the ends instead.
4. Cross the Western/Central train line at Dadar. The human traffic is always madness and this is the proverbial LOC of the two lines. No one on either side likes the other and the hapless ones who have to cross over are considered traitors by both sides. Instead use the bridge connecting Elphinstone Road and Parel stations.
5. Get into a bus where you’ll have to stand or sit near the aisle for long. The conductor is a pervert, the co-passengers are perverts, the seatees are perverts. It’s a blanket rule. Trust me, you don’t want to test this one.
6. Tell an autorickshawalla at Bandra station to take you to the landmark that your friends tell you. They never know cafes, restaurants, movie theatres, halls, gymkhanas or colleges. They also don’t know the road names that the signboards carry. Bandra autowallas only know Linking Road, Hill Road, Ambedkar Chowk and Pali Hill.
7. Take a route you last used over six months back. Account for potholes (of course…think what season this is), sudden one-way signs and the omnipresent metro/walkway dig-ups which will ensure rerouting and increase in fare and time of travel.
8. Promise to get ANYWHERE in this city in less than an hour. It has taken me upto 20 minutes to cross a block and a half from my place. Yes, walking is an alternative. Watch for broken road-bricks, dug-out piles of mud, gargantuan water puddles and dog poo.
9. Window-shop in Lokhandwala. It’s bloody Dilli out here with every jerk on the road leering at you and the shopkeepers smiling honey until you turn away, after which they shout venom.
10. Smile at the staff at any of the Fame cinemas. They will take it as a sign that they can rip you off or at very least throw attitude at you.
11. Ask any of the staff at Big Bazaar or Food Bazaar where anything is. If you get an answer at all, it will be a wrong one and will only make you travel from one end of the store to another without finding what you want. (I’ve been pushed around from ‘Dairy products’ to ‘Meat & Poultry’ to ‘Confectionary’ to ‘Packed Foods’ to ‘Jams & Ketchups’).
12. Eat any food in a mall, even a food-court satellite of a popular chain. There’s a considerable drop in quality and even freshness. You’ll get evil-smelling panipuris from Kailash Parbat stalls, mouldy sandwiches by the coffeeshops and muddy-looking watery choley by Only Parathas.
13. Carry a handbag that can be yanked off easily on the traffic-side of the road. Temptation is always indulged in, in PickpocketCity. Handbag on outer-corner and with flap inside.
14. Travel anywhere without change. Coins of Rs 1 and 2 are prized commodities especially if you take public transport. The thumbrule is that no one has them so if someone owes you one, act like the devil till they get it for you. You can be sure they’d do the same if the roles were reversed.
15. Park a nice-looking car in a non-paid-for location and expect it to look as pristine dent-free, scratch-free later. I’m positive there’s an underground nexus to harass carowners to ensure business for garages/repairmen and paid parking lots.
And with that added to Satish’s list, we make a total tally of 99 DON’Ts in Mumbai. *Sigh* This is depressing. It makes me wonder why anybody wants to live in this city at all.