Waise I am not a good travel guide, never tried that before, but I am sure my experiences would be useful for a first timer in Mumbai. Here’s the preparation that I did, apart from the mental preparation of staying away from home for two months. This is what I packed in my bag apart from clothes: My shaving kit, toothpaste and brush, soaps for taking bath and washing clothes, my digital camera, alarm clock, cello-tape and scissor, pillow cover, laptop, mobile with charger, calculator, pen, refill, pencil, passport sized photos, ruler, umbrella, a keychain, RJ45 and LAN cables, towel, comb and most important, I took printouts of two maps that I thought would be very useful, Mumbai city map and IITB campus map, which I would always keep in my wallet. They did come handy in the first week especially. Apart from this, one may take other things like a notepad, an emergency address-book in case your mobile gets lost, itch guard, medicine tablets, etc. I had a total of three bags, one with lappy, one handbag and a main luggage trolley.
Thik hai, packing-shacking ho gayi, but you can’t leave your home until you get the necessary instructions from your mother! Like don’t eat or drink anything on the roadside and take care of your wallet and other belongings when you are travelling in local train, etc...
My uncle from Mumbai was in Goa for a few days and would be going back by car, so I went with him. It was a tiring journey of more than 13hrs. I stayed at his place at night and next morning my cousin gave me a flavour of travelling in Mumbai city. We travelled in auto-rickshaw as well as local train to reach another uncle’s place at Vile Parle. I was to stay here till I got hostel accommodation in IIT campus.
It’s been over a year now since I know to drive, and I always thought I am a good driver, until I saw the traffic here during the rickshaw ride, especially while crossing the narrow lanes and penetrating the pedestrians who walk on both sides. The pedestrians have become immune to the honking and don’t give a heed even when the vehicle is one metre away from them. I believe they have wrongly interpreted the saying, “who can harm the man whom god protects himself”.
And what do I say about the local train journey. The compartment was fully packed and we had two bags each, me and my cousin. I didn’t understand what happened in those 20 secs, yeah the train stops for only 20 secs on each station and people get out as well as get inside in that much time. I had studied long back that two bodies can’t occupy the same space. But I had also been watching Heroes where D. L. Hawkins could pass through walls and objects. I began to wonder if I too had some amazing abilities and whether I had passed through men when I had boarded that local.
The next day I went to IITB in my uncle’s car. I met the Professor Pant, who’s a very nice person to talk to and I became sure that I would get a very good experience by working under his guidance. I also met the project manager who gave me a report of the previous work that had been attempted on my project area. I grasped it quickly and the same night I had my own idea ready which I would present to the professor later. The summer interns were given a separate space to sit in the lab and of course we had high-speed net access. :)
Back to off-campus activities, I learnt how to travel in bus and local train on my own within two days. It was a bit tiring journey but it helped me get a feel of Mumbai life. I’ll always preserve the tickets of my first journey.
The traffic is pretty much unpredictable in these big cities. Just one independent variable (distance) is not sufficient to know the time for riding between two cities. A drive that can take 30 mins with less traffic can take over 1.5 hrs the next day in midst of traffic. In fact there is a 3m wide lane which connects Andheri station to bus stand, to walk 10m it can take 5min.
So I usually reached home at 7pm on an average and watched heroes until it was dinner time. Exhausted from the day’s work I would fall fast asleep by 11pm. That’s how I spent my first week here, six more to go.