The roads of Mumbai offer strange sights. Sights, that sometimes are difficult to swallow. And others that take a permanent long term lease in your heart.

The seamless merger of the world can be confounding yet be a thing of amusement. Wonderment. Inspiration. Or even, activism. And a countless other things, depending on what pervades the mind at that time.

Here is one such seamless existence. On the road. Wearing seat belts in a car is mandatory here. Cops get mentioned as ‘zealots’ or ‘duty conscious’ depending on who you talked to and how much they have had to pay for not wearing seat belts.

All this for travelling without seat belts. In a car which has crash bars. Side bars. Air bags. And of course, which has been crash tested. Built to X sigma quality. Marketed by God. Or Shah Rukh Khan. ( Now that the film celebs think of themselves as God, God can well be having a befuddling identity crisis)

Here are the other passengers. Without seat belts. Taking on life daily. With smiles as cushions. Daily living as crash tests. Built over many years to exacting requirements that life throws that can beat the best simulation game, hands down !

Battling an inflation. In prices. In population. In difficulty of life. And of course, in aspirations and dreams ! Life needs to be met. And lived. Happily so. Too.

This was clicked on JJ flyover. Sunday morning. Vegetable retailers. After picking up their stuff. All set to sell it to different markets. Perhaps in the suburbs. Holding on to carefully dangled ropes. Perhaps, with life and living as the carrot !

This on the Western Express Highway. Early in the morning. Young men, who perhaps have been up since the middle of the night, catching a quick wink. Atop, vegetables that they perhaps helped load. And will unload in sometime.

A milk van and its attenders. The crates that held milk packets support their backs, as they catch a quick wink. They sure have been up and awake. Supplying milk. And running about.

Fish vendors. Driving back from the wholesale market. Boys. Women. Men. Chatting. Smiling. Sleeping. Holding on. And of course, there is a mezzanine floor over there. The floor beneath has, yes, fish !

An empty minivan. With ropes hanging all over. The gent putting some pink on a circus gymnasts face, by just adroitly holding on. As the tyres find new potholes and the non-existent shock absorbers get tested !

Wonder if you notice the human element here. two legs popping out of the window ! Here is a man ( i think ) who is lying down on the hard surface of this van, his legs atop the open window.

Piped natural gas. Emergency Van ! hmm.

So, people buckle up. Its law. And if you would care, look around. At life and people. There is an amorphous beauty in life and living. In getting by. And getting ahead.

Oh yes, buckling down, is not an option.

18 thoughts on “Journeys

  1. Rush says:

    u definitely bought back some memories man!!
    rear seat passengers who can never afford to buckle themselves down, the lifeline of our city, our emergency van without which we would be all boggled down.
    How did u manage to capture all this?? while buckling up??

  2. Absolutely wonderful post, Kavi. Though it certainly befuddles the mind and one wonders, how you take all these pictures with one hand on a supersensitive power steering, and cars zooming in from the left sharply, wildly driving south.

    Long before cars became extended mobile living rooms, where you read papers in AC comfort, spoke softly on telephones, and looked out at the world through(rose) tinted glasses, belted into your seat as an even more belted person drove you, people had a natural solution for safety. Safety in numbers. YOu could always fit one more person in the vehicle. On laps. Into sides. Standing. Squeezed in. Then in the rarified sophisticated world, someone thought of airbags….

  3. Phoenix says:

    Ahh! The first picture is giving me all the pre-moving scares… I am moving with bag and baggage in less than three months!

  4. RGB says:

    Safety is meant for a select few who can afford the luxury of a car which has seatbelts, airbags, crash guards et al. The mass majority is still at the mercy of these select few, yet live life with lesser worries. That’s the irony of life. And, how did u manage those photographs…that so vividly captured the essence of everyday life in these cities?! Kudos to u!

  5. nsiyer says:

    City life with its vagaries- interesting.Capture pics of so many trucks and mini vans can only be Kavi’s calling.When used the word ‘buckling’, I can only think of my knee which buckled a few days ago.

  6. Swatantra says:

    Superb! Wonderful post!

    I am amazed at the pictures you have collected and more than that the way you have expressed.. very unique!!

    Loved this post of yours.. true inspiration!!

  7. A really wonderful series of photos and comments on the journey called life!

  8. Aparna says:

    Reminded me of a line I read that deeply influenced me,”We may run, walk, stumble, drive or fly but let us never lose sight of the reason for the journey or miss a chance to see a rainbow.”

  9. sujata says:

    Last week I and a few others were taking a ride in the car of my brit colleauge, Emily. Hers is a small car and we had a few office supplies with us as well, she asked if she shd pull over and keep the stuff in the boot of the car so that we could be more comfortable, we said its ok we are fine, and that got us a comment I can not forget,” I know you bloody indians, you pack 20 ppl in the rear seat and go on merrily, i have seen the likes in England!!”

  10. G says:

    I have the same doubts as UK. 🙂 How do you capture these?

  11. Kavi says:

    Rush : Thank you ! Well, i have some well meaning friends with whom i manage to get a lift of two. And so, when they drive, i click ! 🙂

    Ugich Konitari : The capacity that we have to ‘adjust’ in the back seat and elsewhere is unparalleled. I guess !!

    Phoenix : All the best for the move !

    RGB : well i have friends who have these cars and drive around too ! 🙂

    Thank you. And well said.The divisions within society are clear indeed !

    NS Iyer : I dont think it has buckled sir ! Its just a little off !! And when the spirit is up, the knee will come back too ! 🙂

    Swatantra : thank you indeed ! 🙂

    Sucharita : thank you ! 🙂

    Aparna : ah ! how powerful ! I have written it down…lovely line..

    Sujata : We have arrived in the world. Havent we ! With ‘adjust’ment as the philosophy.

    Frankly, what are the options…!

    G : Well..friends ! Friends !

  12. Gyanban says:

    “buri nazarwaaley tera mooh kala” meant different things on different days isnt it.?
    nice read.!

  13. Lou says:

    India is a fascinating country of contrasts..old and new, very rich and very poor. When relatives of mine come from Europe, they laugh when I take them to an “old” building that is 150 years old. We have no real history yet in the US.

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  15. Kaalicharan says:

    wonderful post!
    Every road has a story to tell…

  16. Diby says:

    So many things said… I liked the post 🙂

  17. amreekandesi says:

    Great pictures, Kavi!

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