Resiliency of the Human Spirit

Life in Mumbai is hectic, sometimes painfully so. Over the last few months, I have been in deep awe of the ability of the human spirit to survive and revive, even in the wake of madness and chaos. When I think of my own strength and belief to make this massive transition from San Francisco to Mumbai, I am amazed by my ability to thrive and make the most of, what appears to be, a dismal situation. Be it the large-scale corruption, the pollution, the astronomically high cost of living, the increasing population, and even the incredible poverty that I come across on a daily basis, I find that my spirit is able to rise above all the uncertainty and find meaning in and have gratitude for all the experiences that are thrown away.

I am becoming increasingly aware of this idea even as I continue my work with my patients – each one has a story to tell, some of them extremely disheartening and others not so painful. Day in and day out, I hear the stories and narratives of these people, all of whom are struggling and dealing with life and its challenges. Each story is different; each tale is unique. But the theme that is common to all their stories and to mine and yours as well, is the idea of resilience.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines resilience as follows:  “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” I believe the human spirit is resilient by nature, even though sometimes it is hard to imagine so. There is a certain spark within each one of us that is eager to blaze into a fire, even in the most dire circumstances. And it’s not a question of whether this spark will burst into flames or not, but more a question of time; for some, it is longer and for others, it happens before they even know it. But it does, one way or another.

When I am walking around in Mumbai or traveling by train, the resiliency of the human spirit is so blatant, that it’s always inspiring to me. Whether it is the homeless boy doing all that he can to earn some money or whether it is the 3-legged stray dog that is determined to cross the road in heavy traffic, no one in Mumbai ever gives up. Perhaps, Mumbai herself has a resilient spirit or maybe this is all a grand illusion, a game of some sorts? It doesn’t really matter.

I have learned, in my 14 months in Mumbai, that my stay in this city is directly proportionate to the choices I make. We all make choices on a daily basis: some are wise, some not so wise. But they are our choices, and we must live with them. I made a conscious choice to move to Mumbai, and though in the beginning it was very tough (and sometimes still is), I am beginning to realize that I must learn to make the most of my choices, and with each passing day, I am able to make peace with this idea.

Freddie Mercury states it best in his song The Show Must Go On. Hope you enjoy the video:


Incredible Mumbai!

This weekend, I was walking down the street in my neighborhood and I heard a cockerel crow. It was five in the evening and I was amazed to hear this sound in the middle of no where. I scanned the environment and found the most amazing sight: right in the middle of a large tree, were 1 cockerel and 2 hens comfortably perched, looking mighty proud of themselves. I was fascinated and charmed by the level of comfort they possessed in the mega city, rather envious of them. I quickly pulled out my phone and clicked a snap:

Of course, nobody else on the street batted an eye and I was the only one who appeared to be so enamored by the vision above. I mean, who in San Francisco has seen first hand one cockerel and two hens perched on a tree, without a care in the world? Only in Mumbai would you expect to see something like that!

So I thought to myself, things can’t get any more strange, and I continued to make my way to my house, when I noticed a few people scattered around, all eyes gazing in one direction. Following their gaze, I was met by a bunch of monkeys hanging out in the balconies of a building, scoring for food. I noticed one even get into the kitchen of a house, grab some food, and munch on it. Here is evidence of the monkey business that was the focus of entertainment of many a people on a Sunday afternoon:

Apparently, a bunch of monkeys have infested my neighborhood and have  made my neighborhood their home since the last 4-5 months, scouring buildings and roof tops in search of food and shelter. Again, I was mesmerized by what I was seeing, smack in the middle of a bustling city. As if seeing cows, bullocks, stray dogs, cats, and rodents, were not enough!

The next day, I made my usual trip to the bazaar for my veggie shopping and happened to look at the tree tops. What do you think I saw? There was a family of monkeys hanging out right above the stall of a vegetable vendor, looking downwards toward the food. I asked the vendor if he was concerned about the monkeys or if he was bothered by them in anyway. He was not. Not in the least bit! Au contraiare! In fact, the vendor took a tiny plastic bag, filled it with sprouted chick peas, and threw a couple of such packets to the monkeys who immediately grabbed them and started devouring the goodies:

I was amazed by the fearlessness and conviction of the vegetable vendor, until I reminded myself that in Hinduism, the monkey is symbolic of the Hindu God, Hanuman. Considered one of the major deities in Hinduism, Hanuman is revered (colloquially) as the “monkey god”, one that plays a major role in the Hindu epic called the Ramayana. Since Hanuman is so ardently worshiped by the Hindus, the vendor feeding the monkeys came as no surprise to me.



However, I was concerned that the feeding of these wild monkeys may make them get habituated to the city life and they would lose their natural and predatory skills of the wild.

So far, as far as I have heard, the municipality has not taken any affirmative action around this monkey business, and I have a feeling that this is the last thing on their mind.

One often hears the slogan, “Incredible India” as a means of marketing and advertising the many splendors of India. But I say, to hell with that! Welcome to “Incredible Mumbai”, a city of milk and honey, cows and monkeys, and many other stupendous sights that promises to take your breath way!

Amazing Grace, how (not so) sweet thy sound (and sight and smell)!!

Amazing grace it is indeed, that every time I witness the state government’s attempt ay pest control, I have not rolled over and died. You may be wondering what I am on about now, and I swear, I have been trying to be tolerant about this, but in Mumbai, the government has a unique way of pest control. Ever since I landed in Mumbai, I have had several opportunities to closely monitor and observe how pest control in Mumbai is done, and it’s not fun, to say the least.

My first recent experience with this nauseating method was when I was in the kitchen, on a humid day in October, and I noticed a strange smell creeping through the cracks of the kitchen windows. It smelt like a concoction of “pif-paf” (the insect repellant spray) and wall paint (at least this is how I think it smelled). It started getting stronger, until every room of the house was oozing with that smell. And then the horror of horrors, I saw white smoke enveloping my bedroom balconies and trying to make its way into the house through the bathroom windows and the hallway of the building. For the life of me, I had no idea what was going on and had to run crazy around the house desperately trying to shut all doors and windows. But alas, it was too late and we had to live with the stench for a couple of hours.

By the end of it, I was dizzied with the smell and sight, but had no idea what was going on. And at that point, I did not even bother about its origin. If there is one thing I have learned about Mumbai, there is no time to figure out what’s going on if you haven’t figured it out in the fist 5 minutes of noticing anything. At least this has been my experience. Life moves at the speed of lightning in this mad city. I always thought and heard that “life in the USA” was so hectic and busy…..not after you have lived in Mumbai, where you are constantly bombarded with every visual, auditory, and olfactory stimuli.

So, on I went with my day as if nothing had happened and did not pay much attention to the fumigation drama that just unfolded outside my house, until I witnessed it again in the month of November. I finally figured out what it was on closer inspection. It was the municipal’s attempt to rid Mumbai of its mosquitoes!!!!

Yes, Mumbai has a lot of mosquitoes, especially during and a little after the rains. It’s painful, these mosquito bites and they itch like no tomorrow. I think it is fantastic that the municipality is taking great efforts and pains to do pest control on a large-scale, but does it have to be so painful?

Here are some recent pictures of what I am talking about. Hopefully, it will give you and idea of what I have been experiencing on a monthly basis:

The Municipal guy with all his armory!!

The Municipal guy with all his armory!!

As he enters the building....

As he enters the building….

...a tornado of smoke and chemicals follow him.

…a tornado of smoke and chemicals follow him.

The entire area is drenched in smoke for the next 10-15 minutes. People in doors are still not directly exposed to the fumes – but what about the people who are out and about on the streets? What about the vegetable and meat vendors and their fares, who are exposed to such harsh chemicals? And what about the man himself who goes about fumigating the many parts of this city? The only protection I see for them is a flimsy face mask that covers the nose and mouth. I find it really astonishing and sad that, despite our many advances in this city, we have still not found a sensible, safe, and efficient way of doing pest control on a mass level.

I hope I see some advancement in this department, among others, in my lifetime…. Should I be counting on it? Am not sure.

For someone who is just figuring out this city, wouldn't this sight seem bizarre to you?

For someone who is just figuring out this city, wouldn’t this sight seem bizarre to you?

Fearful for my Life!!!

It’s all over! The winter is all over! It’s dead! Last Sunday was the final day of “winter”, if you can even call it that. Ever since Monday, it has been all down hill. I am already feeling the dampness on my skin whenever I get out or even if I am at home without the air conditioner. Today was the first day that I had to turn the AC on at 5 pm, because the house was so warm! I have not turned the AC on in almost 3 months because it has been so pleasant. But that bubble has burst and I am dreading, almost scared, of the heat to come.

When I used to live in Mumbai in the late 90s, I lived through some of the worst summers of my life. So I know what is ahead of me. I know that when I wake up in the morning and walk out of my air-conditioned bedroom, the rest of the house will be warm and heavy, like a dense cloud of humidity drifted in through the night, sitting pretty in the house, waiting to consume me as soon I open my eyes.

When I walk out of the house, I know that I will be drenched with sweat; cascades of sweat gushing down my back and face, making me curse my fate and my decision to live in Mumbai. I know it, I can get a whiff of what is to come and I know that I will have to face a very harsh summer, after a long, long time. I will have to endure the warm nights, the sultry afternoons, the way my hands and feet bloat, the 100 heat boils that create a blanket over my hands, and the irritation and frustration that I often feel when I have to live in this extreme weather.

Yes, I am fearful for my life because I know how the Mumbai heat has affected me in the past, and I know how difficult it has been for me, because I hate the heat. I just hate it. Put me in an igloo and I will take that anytime. But not the heat in Mumbai. Because this heat is no simple heat… is a combination of humidity and air pollution all wrapped up. I really hope that this weather – 35 degrees Celsius/ 93 degrees Fahrenheit (in February!!!!) – will temper down and this is just a short spell of weather madness. But really, who am I kidding?

“It’s so cold today, isn’t it?”

I hear this statement every single day my maid walks into the house. She is beyond belief about how “cold” it is in Mumbai and how it never used to be so cold. And I often respond saying that it’s pleasant in Mumbai, and not cold at all. She looks at me dumbfounded, thinking that I am from another planet. I look at her astounded, thinking she probably feels cold because she has not an ounce of fat on her body, unlike me…Of course she would be cold. She is like a stick!

I really cannot say if it is cold or not in Mumbai as I have not lived through the winters of Mumbai in the last 10 years. To me, it is not winter because it does not feel like winter, at least the winter I was used to where you had to wear gloves, boots, and be constantly bundled up in a warm jacket with a chill factor that hit your bones.

I must say that I am able to sit in a room without a fan on, on most days. That is certainly an indication that the weather is pleasant during the day, and quite cool at night…but not cold. I know that I am comparing the winter of San Francisco to that of Mumbai and I am probably not the best person to determine how winter is defined in Mumbai. I must ask the people I see, on a daily basis from my window, who wear ear muffs, people who are clad in sweaters and shawls, and those people who sit on the streets huddled up in front of make-shift fires made from scarp, what winter in Mumbai actually is like. They are probably the best judge on the winter temperatures of Mumbai.

I just spoke to someone who said she is wearing a sweater and stockings in the middle of the day because she was feeling cold. It is 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit), and that is cold for her! Now, I suspect that a lot of people in Mumbai would say 29 degrees is cold when they are accustomed to 36 to 38 degrees Celsius in the summer with 100% humidity. Or, it could just be that people realize that, on a logical level, we are in the winter season, and are trying to fit their wardrobes and actions to mirror the concept of “winter”? Not sure what to make of all of this.

Miracle of Miracles!

Folks, listen up! Yesterday, I did the most unexpected of things – I slept with a big comforter all night, with just the fan. A comforter and a fan! It is officially coldish in Mumbai. The evenings are very pleasant and the nights are rather cool. I wouldn’t go too far by saying that it is cold, at least not for me. My husband thought it was snowing in Mumbai when I told him I could sleep with just the fan instead of the air conditioner (we have been sleeping with the air conditioner for the past 4 months now). As I am typing this post, it is 19 degrees Celsius and I am sitting in my room without the fan on and my feet are cold. I never thought, for the life of me, that this day would arrive.

I know it’s cold in Mumbai when I get out of the shower and start shivering a little. By god, what a concept! It is so refreshing to be greeted by a chill every time I wake up in the morning and sense the crispness in the air. But of course, like all other good things come to an end, this also does. By the afternoon, it starts to heat up a little, with the afternoon temperature averaging to about 31 degrees Celsius. It is certainly still tolerable compared to what it has been in the last few months. You can still walk about during the day and not feel fried in about 1 hour of being out. Now, I can last about 3-4 hours outdoors and still have a smile on my face. For people who know me, the heat and I were never good friends.

What amuses me is the fact that I see people around me in sweatshirts, jumpers, and woolies, as if they were preparing for a big snow storm or some magnanimous winter that is going to wipe them off their feet . Yes, it’s cool in Mumbai, not cold! In Delhi, it is about 2 degrees Celsius, where people are dying due to extreme temperatures. Now, that is cold! And I admit, that while it is intriguing to see people bundled up in sweaters in the morning and evenings, it is also nice to see a different kind of dress code making its presence felt in the big city.

I am taking in this lovely and most appreciated change in weather, with gratitude and joy. I am now off to my second night of cozying up in my giant comforter with just the fan. It officially feels like winter!

Time Flies – It’s been 3 Months Already!!

Yes, it has been 3 months since we landed in Mumbai on September 5th, 2011. It’s been 3, real challenging months in this city and I am still trying to make some sense of how this all happened? How did we decide to come to India? Why did we decide to make a life in a city that, in many ways, is so alien to us? How is it that 3 whole months have flown by and I still feel like I am in a daze?

The first week of being in the city, I met up with a friend who I hadn’t seen in 10 years. I studied with her in my first year in SF, for all of one semester. She was more an acquaintance than a friend. But when I saw her in Mumbai, I felt more close to her than any one else I knew in Mumbai, because of the SF connection. Anyhow, this friend, “S”, had previously lived in Australia and Fiji, then in SF, and then moved to Mumbai about 9 years ago. I thought it was remarkable that she could do this and is still alive. In our conversation, she mentioned that in her first year in Mumbai, she “was in a daze” and “was like a zombie”, clueless about what was going on. At that moment I thought to myself, ‘Gees, this one’s a nut job. In a daze? Felt like a zombie? What was she on?’ Just last week I sent S an email with the following message: “We are having a pretty tough time adjusting to Mumbai and i still cant believe we are here to stay!! Gosh! I remember you saying that you were in a daze for the first year….i think i now know what you mean by that.”

Yes, I am in haze, a daze, a confusion of sorts, wondering how to cope with the challenges of living in this madness that I was once in love with. When I lived here for 4 years in the late 90’s, I fell in love with Mumbai. I did not think anything could compare to the ferociousness and excitement of living in this city…..not until I lived in San Francisco.

I am still having a very tough time adjusting to the noise….non-stop noise, whether necessary or unnecessary. I am also having a very tough time with the weather. Believe you me, we are over half way into the first week of December, and it’s still bloody hot and sweaty!!! I think what’s making it even worse is the fact that this is the Holiday season in the USA: San Francisco glistening with Christmas decorations all over, street lights in pretty colors, festive parties and events, Christmas music booming from every shop and home, lots and lots of good wine and fine company…the works. This is the time where you could really feel the Christmas spirit in the air. I am so missing that feeling now, and my friends as well.

I just pulled up an image of the Macy’s Christmas Tree at Union Square in San Francisco. We would go to Union Square every year and pay homage to the stunning tree.

I had a tough time even looking at this image because a flood of memories of my 10 years in San Francisco gushed forth, like a spring of water gushing from the smallest crack in the rock. And, as I stare at it and recall all those wonderful years in paradise, I am thankful for the many moments of joy and sadness, of pleasure and pain, of hope and despair, I enjoyed in SF. I am hoping the next 3 months will be kinder to me, as I continue to try to ease into the complexities and nuances of making a life in Mumbai.

Getting a Facial in Mumbai…. A Whole new Experience!

So today, I was craving a facial and was dying to get some down time in the relaxing confines of a saloon (I still want to say “salon” like it is in the US, as opposed to “saloon”). But when in Rome, it’s usually in one’s best interest to do what the Roman’s do. I was also craving a facial because my face was feeling grimy and oily from all the dust, dirt, and grime it has been exposed to in the last 3 months of living here. Not to forget, every time I have a shower and wash my face with a cleansing oil, it does not take me more than 15 minutes to see sweat beads on my face. Thus, my face really needed some TLC, to say the least.

Now, I could have taken the time and made the effort to research good spas or saloons in and around the area, but I was too tired. Yes tired, not because I did anything “tiring” per say, but because it is almost the end of November and it was 36 degrees Celsius this afternoon (97 degrees Fahrenheit) coupled with 70% humidity. This is a whole new concept of winter for me, and I hate it!! Anyhow, I decided to try the local saloon in my neighborhood and I knew I should not expect to be treated like I was at the Ritz Carlton or something, but I also hoped that I would have a pretty relaxing experience.

So, there i was, on the table and definitely got a facial, although the ultra relaxing aspect of it was missing. To simplify my experience, and because San Francisco is my only yardstick, I will break down my experience in the pros for getting facials for both cities.

Pros of getting a facial in Mumbai (at a mediocre saloon):

1. The facial lasted for 1 hour and 15 minutes, as opposed to the 50-60 minute facials I was accustomed to in SF.

2. The facial comes with a mini back massage (which lasts about 5-7 minutes). I could never expect that in SF.

3. The cosmetician takes great pains to massage your face and neck for about 25 minutes, again, something I am not used to in a facial in SF.

Pros of getting a facial in San Francisco (at a mediocre saloon):

1. Your hair is neatly tucked in with a band and made sure, as far as humanly possible, that it did not interfere with the facial. Today, although the cosmetician did tuck my hair back with a band, it wasn’t done well enough because every 10 minutes or so, she would have to pull strands of hair off my face.

2. The temperature of each room is controlled to ensure the comfort of the client. Nope! This was not to be. The person in the next room was feeling warm, and her cosmetician turned on the fan full speed, much to my displeasure. When I expressed my dissatisfaction to my cosmetician, she didn’t really do anything about it except to mutter, “Sunita, turn the fan down a little.” Mind you, each “room” is created by diving walls that are made of concrete, but the walls don’t go all the way up to the ceiling. So, the concept of “temperature control” is null and void in such a saloon.

3. You get soft, serene, relaxing music playing in the background, lulling you into a state of relaxation. I got old Hindi songs cranking out of a beat up boom box….but, luckily they were pleasant songs and not plain old cacophony that you get in the newer Hindi films.

4. Finally, I used to get to hear my own breath and the soothing music when I got my facials in SF. In Mumbai, I got to hear the conversations of the lady in the next room, I got to hear the giggles of two girls who were getting pedicures, of chairs being dragged around the saloon, and of people going in and out. One of the conversations I overheard, while attempting to get a relaxing facial, was between these two women who were talking about their tailors; how one of the women’s tailor won’t give her back the finished product until she is completely satisfied with it, and how he is “too good” when stitching Indian clothes. Another conversation revolved around how one of the women is now ready to show her legs in public because she “just recently started waxing.” I was just amazed at these conversations, wondering if I should laugh at my fate or……if I should just laugh at my fate!

Anyways, I got my facial done, paid the woman, and had to ask myself if I was in the Twilight Zone or something. I sure as hell did not get a very relaxing facial, but I did have an experience that I will never forget!

A Tribute to the Vada Pav

OMG!!! Today I was a very bad girl. I was on my way home for lunch, from work, and I was beginning to get hungry. I had to stop by the electrical shop to get alight bulb for the kitchen. So I did so, reluctantly, because I was really getting hungry and just wanted to eat. As I was going toward the shop, I passed by the street vendor who sells vada pavs and thought to myself, “It would be nice to get something from him, but I know it’s loaded with oil.” So I continued on with my business, inquired about the bulb, and as I was paying for the goods, I just blurted out to the cashier the following question in Hindi, “Is the vada pav he sells there good?”, to which I got a response in the affirmative.

For some of you who do not know what a vada pav is, I shall attempt to explain: it is yummy! Just kidding. Vada is a short form for Batada Vada, which is essentially a ball of flavoured mashed potatoes mixed in with green chillies, mustard seeds, curry leaves, salt, and turmeric. This vada is then bathed in a rich, complex coating of a liquid mixture of gram flour and spices, and deep fried in oil.

Pav is the Hindi word for an unflavored bun. So, vada pav is a sandwich of sorts, wherein a vada is stuffed within a bun, and eaten with sweet and spicy chutneys. I have not eaten a vada pav in 10 years, people. Every time I would visit India, I would run to eat other kinds of fast food and street food, so much so, that I forgot what a good vada pav tasted like. Today, on sheer impulse, I brought a vada pav (VP) for all of Rs. 8 ($0.25), and almost ran home. I just couldn’t wait to get home, and when I did, I threw everything on the bed, took the vada pav wrapped in news paper, took a few pictures from my phone camera, said a quick prayer to god to save me from any illness or infection that I may be struck with, took the biggest bite off the VP, and took a sigh of relief. It was orgasmic!  Here is an image of the vada pav that I brought off the streets this afternoon:

Vada Pav - Fresh off the street of Mumbai

Vada Pav - Fresh off the streets of Mumbai

In this picture, notice the newspaper that is soaked in oil. Look for the big dark spots:


Yummy! Don't miss the Green Chillies that accompany it.

Now, people who sell VPs, also tend to sell other food stuff such as onion bhajias, aloo (potato) bhajias, fried green chillies, etc. So, I couldn’t resist the onion and aloo bhajias and bought 6 rupees worth of it. A bhajia is yet another fired snack and is known by various names all over India. It is one of those fast foods that is endemic to the Indian culture and menu, and is most savored and enjoyed with chai, on a rainy day. A bhajia is made by taking a single vegetable or a mixture of vegetables, such a eggplant, onion, spinach, cauliflower, and potato, and bathing them in the gram flour batter ad deep frying it in oil. The VP guy had some onion and aloo bhajias and I packed some of those as well and enjoyed it for lunch. Here is a picture of my street food fest:

Bhajias Galore!

Bhajias Galore!

Everytime I took a bit of the bhajia or the VP, I would eat a tempered green chilli – I was in heaven!! It was spicy, yet mouth watering…..that’s seldom a combination I come across when I think of green chillies in India. Here is another picture of the oil spills around the bhajias:

Oil Spill!

Oil Spill!

Now, some people would argue that eating off the streets is unhealthy and is inviting trouble for your health, and rightly so. Who knows what water the guy has used, how old this oil must be and how many times he may have re-used it for frying, how many and what kinds of insects have feasted on the food, where this guys hands have been before he has touched the batter….the list is endless. And, I am humbly reminded that thousands of people in Mumbai live and thrive off this food, making it a staple for their meals, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

There are days, where, a true Mumbaiker, has to sometimes just bite the bullet, say a prayer, and enjoy the delicacies of the street, cuz that’s definitely the only way one can ever enjoy this kind of food.

The commuter train has a life of its own

If there is one city, outside of Europe and within India, that is super-connected by the trains, it has to be Mumbai! People can get to any god forsaken part of this city by using trains. It is pretty incredible how even less populous parts of Mumbai can be accessed through the simple use of trains.

As I have been traveling by trains a lot, because it is the fastest way to get to any part of Mumbai, I have become more and more intrigued by the fact that the trains in Mumbai have a life of their own. I am sure this phenomena has been written about and explored a multitude times before, and I am going to also add my two cents to it, along with some pictures that I have taken over the last few months.

I have seen several bizarre and unusual situations on the local trains right from eunuchs coming in and asking for money, to invalids (they’re most likely not) contorting their bodies in all shapes and forms, to people selling all kinds of things like eatables, jewelery, phone covers, TV and microwave covers, and hair accessories, to people balancing tons of stuff on their heads and backs while trying to get on and off the train. Below are a couple of images of a lady transporting aluminium and steel vessels on her head and back, while also carrying her baby in her arms:

The Ultimate Balancing Act

The Ultimate Balancing Act

Here is another picture of the lady getting ready to disembark the train.

In this picture, her baby is sitting at the entrance of the train in anticipation of being picked up by her mother later as she balances all her wares across and over her body (picture is a little blurry from the moving train):

Babe in train

Babe in train

The number of people that sell and buy goods in these compartments are incredible. It is also a lot of fun bargaining with the sellers, as well as watching how some of the passengers respond to the kinds of goodies that are being sold on board. This afternoon, my eyes lit up, as I saw a young boy walk through the compartment with an assortment of glass and metallic bangles, and earrings and necklaces. Feast your eyes on these goodies:

Racks of bangles and necklaces

Racks of bangles and necklaces

The Mumbai local trains certainly have a life of its own. In peak hours, you have to fight for a place in the compartment and be vary of people stepping on your toes or pushing you out of the train when you have not yet reached your destination (the sheer force of the crowd can land you much further than your intended destination sometimes). Sometimes, you will even hear folk singers and religious singers sing their way through their journey, mostly to my displeasure, because it is pretty stressful as it is with getting on and being in a crowded train. I could go on and share more observations regarding the train culture in Mumbai, but I will end with this last observation: of people crossing train tracks to get from one side of the station to another (from East to West and vice verse). It is not uncommon for men, women, and children to cross the railway tracks to get to the other side, despite the fact that there is a bridge that connects one side to another, and despite the reality that a train could be just around the corner. It is also not uncommon for hundreds of people a year to die from these fatal crossings. Here is first hand evidence of several people walking on and crossing the train tracks:

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychology, talked about the “Eros” or the life instinct and the “Thanatos” or the death instinct. I guess we all know which instinct these guys are following!

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