The sun slowly rises above beeping and honking Mumbai. Fumes of curries are tickling in my noose. I feel like walking through an Indian restaurant. Mumbai Domestic Airport is full of people dressed in colorful garments and outfits; turquoise, bright red, dark blue, purple. Turbands, yawning Indian businessmen run around, a few lost tourist are trying to stay on their feet after a night without sleep.
My first impression of India is one of chaos. The chaos I expected. And I am in the middle of it. I arrived at Mumbai International Airport and am leaving from Mumbai Domestic to go to Goa. Both airports are seemingly miles apart. Somewhere inside Mumbai International is a transit to get (a bus) to domestic, but where and how: I’ll never know. The ATM inside wasn’t working, so I left the airport to get some money at the ATM outside. Five minutes later I wanted to walk in again, but was stopped by a soldier. If you walk out, you stay out. “But I have a transit”, I excuse myself. “To show him, I get my ticket out of my backpack. He doesn’t even look at it, but strokes his gun full of love.
Help is on it’s way. Almost fifty taxi and tuktuk drivers jump on top of me. It almost looks like this morning everybody is a taxidriver. I look at all the dented cars and decide to walk on. We have taxis in the Netherlands and I own a dented car myself.
A few minutes later I’m wondering if this was the smartest move I could make when the tuktuk driver races through the streets of Mumbai like a suicidal maniac. Twice he almost drives his tuktuk in the side of another one. Everytime he sees a small cap in between two cars, he honks his horn and dives in, at the same time four other tuktuks do, all honking and beeping.
My eyes are wide open, the kamikaze pilot who drives my tuktuk doesn’t move a muscle. For him this is totally normal, just like all the honking and beeping of the hundreds of cars and tuktuks around us is. There is literally no driver that doesn’t use his horn. It’s five in the morning, but Mumbai is already roaring. Nobody seems to care. Everybody is joining in. So if they can be totally relaxed in this earsplitting chaos, I should be able to become totally zen in this country; shouldn’t I?
I wrote this story in 2010 when I visited India for the first time. It's the same story, just another language. It will be part of an E-Book, which you can pick up here in a few weeks, so stay tuned.