In my travels to Mumbai over the past several years, I have noticed a certain lack of mindfulness in the city of the country where awareness and mindfulness were born. Most would just discount these actions as rude but I think it is deeper than that. Overpopulation in a city rich with cultures and diversity makes this city unique but often disenchanting. It doesn’t take much to mindful but this city has me wonder if some are completely mindless.
If you have ever experienced Mumbai traffic, you would probably agree that it is one of the worst transportation experiences a person could experience. Add on top of this the endless honking of horns of all different pitches and you have yourself in the middle of a symphonic orchestra of the most irritating sounds you could possibly imagine. Everyone is stuck in traffic yet driver still honk as if there is another route that the driver in front of them hasn’t explored. The nicer the car, the more it honks. If you are in a rickshaw, the driver’s don’t take into account that the sides are open and the horn is usually at ear level. Again, they honk for no reason. Mumbaikars: The only reason you should honk a horn is to avoid a collision with a pedestrian/biker or another form of an automobile.
While in line at any given place, you will have people ignoring the fact that there is a long queue of people waiting and walk right up to the front of the line and insist on being served. This happens at grocery stores, train stations, Starbuck’s or literally anywhere a person has to stand in line and wait. I have even seen grown men push elderly women. That was an instance that I could not remain silent and let my blood boil. This country is completely at bowing down at the feet of another but can’t wait in line behind another. The several times that I have confronted a line cutter, they seem to be oblivious that there is a line at all. This also goes for traffic lines. Automobiles rush through red traffic lights almost wiping out a motorcycle carrying an entire family and don’t even wave an apology. Sometimes, they don’t even know that they about caused a fatal accident.
A present state of mind includes knowing what time it is. As an American, I can make it to yoga classes on time with sometimes an hour and a half commute but Indians say that they can’t be held accountable for being on time. You almost have to claim that something is starting an hour to two hours before so that people will hopefully show up on time. I’m not sure what corporations do when people show up when they want to for work but I believe that after several times of being late, the person no longer has a job. Regardless of what ethnicity you are, time is the same for everyone. Set an alarm. Use your phone to set reminders. Buy a watch.
With all the mindfulness that people speak of in the land of presence and awareness, it shocking to see the behavior in others at times. Even with all my training, I still get frustrated and sometimes angry at the way people treat others. Sometimes I speak out and sometimes I stay silent as it is not my place to govern how people treat people. What is most revealing is that India prides itself on being the birthplace of yoga but still so much more growing to do. A land so ancient still has the tendencies of a toddler. So, if you are a Mumbaikar, an Indian or any other human being living on this planet be mindful of your actions and, more importantly, be aware of the world around you.