07:53

Mumbai style commuting

We caught the commuter train from Thane, a city of two million north of Mumbai into the centre. There is no polite waiting for those disembarking to get off. Before the train has stopped those embarking fight – and that is a good description –  to get on; elbows and arms, but not fists, are used with abandon. Once seated, if knees touch there are apologies all round. Odd behaviour? Not really. The carriages are segregated between men and women and this is just a way of letting off steam in hot and crowded city where crime is limited and most interactions are with a smile. In between the tracks there are vegetable gardens and slums fill every available space either side of the railway. Over a thousand people a year get killed while walking along the tracks

The journey cost 9 rupees. The same journey on a commuter train in England would be £9 – the cost from Waterloo to Woking – a hundred times more. A taxi journey that in London would cost you £5, and in Paris double, will set you back 50p in Mumbai. To be sure the train is crude, open and standing room only – but then so are many commuter trains in the UK. The taxis are sometimes, but not always, tatty and old. But ten times more for a taxi and a hundred times more for a train journey?
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