Oh, East is East and West is West and Never the Twain Shall Meet!

By Piyushi Dhir

Mumbai from the Eyes of a Delhite: Part 3

[​This is the third in a series of blogs about Mumbai]

In my early days at Mumbai, I learnt that living and navigating in this city was largely about the ‘East’ and the ‘West’. Try asking an Auto wallah if he’ll go to Bandra and pat comes the rejoinder, “East ya West?”. The same goes for Kurla, Vile Parle, Santacruz, Goregaon, Andheri; the list is endless. Try explaining the concept of parallel lines from North to South to a Delhite, whose mind is comfortably ensconced in the concentric circles of the Ring Road and Outer Ring Road, and you’ll get a completely bewildered expression.

The local train lines add yet another twist, with the Western, Central and Harbour lines! I burnt my fingers early enough when a friend and I ventured to Colaba from Bandra by train. Purchasing tickets for Mumbai CST, we sat on a train that people assured us was heading towards Colaba. On alighting at the station, we barely breathed a sigh of relief at arriving at our destination, before we were rounded up by ticket-checkers and a fine of Rs 500 was imposed on each on us!

It took 30 minutes and 3 ticket-checkers to explain two absolutely flummoxed girls that though we had tickets from Bandra to South Mumbai and had paid the full fare, we had taken the Western Line instead of the Central Line. The destination was the same, the fare identical; the lines, however, were different! They finally let us go with a reduced fine, but till date, I try to give the Mumbai locals a wide berth.

Mumbai Locals

On another occasion, I needed to get from South Mumbai back to Bandra. I asked a taxi in Colaba to take me to the station and he promptly dropped me at Mumbai CST, but I discovered soon that the ticket I held was for a train that would depart from Churchgate! Why there are two stations at the very same place, with trains leaving for the same destination was totally beyond me! I threw up my hands in the air, nostalgic about the simplicity of the red, yellow and blue lines of the Delhi metro- where only one train goes to one destination.

As if the parallel refusal of the East and West to ever meet was not enough, a new dimension was added to my troubles with the North and South division of Mumbai. Heading from Chembur to Worli on one occasion, I reached a point where the Auto stopped and told me he wasn’t allowed beyond. I now had to switch to a taxi! Similarly, I once got stranded in Mahim, as autos don’t exist in that part of the city and not a single taxi was available in the evening rush hour. The logic behind this division of territories has continued to elude me.

Lost in the baffling divisions of East and West and North and South, I missed those days when I used to be the navigation expert among my friends back in Delhi.

Lesson for the Delhite: forget the rounded patterns of your city. Mumbai runs long and narrow and you better know which side you’re on!

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About the Author

Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.