I was raised for the most part of my life in a small town where everything was easily accessible. If one had to travel somewhere to reach for half an hour, the distance was considered too much! Apart from that, I was always under the shelter of my loving parents. I had not stayed in a hostel or in any other city for education or job. Yes, I was pretty self-reliant in that I would go to my office in my 2-wheeler, could shop, and do minimal stuff.
Then I got married and that was the first time I was actually “on my own”! Of course, my husband has always been my strength and support. I got married and came to Mumbai, the big metro, the city of dreams. I was always a lousy pedestrian who took half an hour to cross a “little busy” road or required my siblings’, parents’ or friends’ help to cross. I was very good with a two-wheeler though!
It was a Mumbai, a city with huge population, never-ending and never-stopping traffic, people who were always on a run. Within a month of marriage, I got a job. The office was in Andheri. I had never traveled in a BEST bus or local train before this. In the morning me and my husband would start for our respective offices together, catch the same local but our destinations were different. I had to get down before him.
I still remember the first time I traveled all alone from my home to Andheri. For somebody who is new to Mumbai, East and West of any station is a new word, confusing. I somehow managed to get down at Andheri station but got confused by the East and West directions! My office was in the East and I took an auto from West and ended up searching for my office for a good 1 hour and ended up paying double the fare. This was the era where there was no Smartphone or GPS.
Slowly and steadily with lots of trial and errors, I started to figure out everything; the local train routes, the BEST bus numbers and routes, tentative auto fares even without meter!
Today I can travel extensively to any part of this vast city without any fear. Of course, mobiles, tracking devices, various cab services have made life easier.
This city made me fearless, independent, and self-reliant!