The instant I start to get annoyed at fellow passengers while on the New York City subway, I remind myself, “Matt, things could be much worse. If you think this is crowded, picture what it’s like in Tokyo, Moscow or Mumbai right now.” Then my heart rate slows, I jab an elbow into the ribs of the person that won’t move into the center of the train, and I make my way to an isolated portion of the train to read quietly and hopefully not smell too many uncomfortable scents at once.
Of course train travel is one of the easiest activities a traveler can do to allow themselves to experience what life is like for the locals, and this is especially true in Mumbai. As Lonely Planet notes about train travel in Mumbai, “The train is one of the few places where you can participate in a truly local ritual, and distinctions between Indian and foreigner fade. Everyone here is just a passenger.”
For first time travelers, LP has a few helpful hints for train travel in the megalopolis.
Crowded trains are par for the course here, but like anywhere, avoid rush hour for a slightly more comfortable trip (avoid 7-11 a.m. and 4-8 p.m.). Keep aware of when your station is coming up, and start making your way to the doors two stations ahead to ensure you get to actually leave. (By the way, do not do this in New York, or I promise you will be the one I’m elbowing on the train). Finally, check out the “tourist tickets” for sale that allow you to avoid the hassle of figuring out the train’s complex ticket system, and which give you unlimited rides for a certain number of days.
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