Mumbai to Pune

Landing in Mumbai
- 18 November 2012 -

So I know this blog is supposed to be a South Africa thing, but my work sent me to India, so I guess you can call this a post of India from a South African point of view.

I arrived on the Saturday after a 9 hour flight from South Africa. The flight was good, business class is always good. A lot better than economy. I was seated next to an Indian gentleman. We didn't talk much during the trip but when we landed he was nice enough to switch on his mobile phone and show me an SMS he got regarding a popular indian leader that had passed away that day. The leader was popular in Mumbai and for that reason, there was pretty much a complete shut down of the city. It was 12pm when I landed and I need to get to my hotel. It should have been easy, but me being in a new place and shut down of the city, I had no idea where to look and there was a general shortage of cabs, it took me a while to find the hotels shuttle service.

On the way back to hotel I wasn't extremely impressed with the scenery, but that didn't matter I just wanted to get to the room and sleep. For some strange reason I can't sleep on planes or cars, so even though it is business class and I have a fully reclining seat, it didn't matter, I was wide awake the whole flight.

I woke up early to see if I can get the transport I needed from the hotel in Mumbai to Pune which was about 150km away. I'm not sure that I was surprised but I soon found that due to the passing of the leader Bal Thackeray there was not much happening in the city. In short all store and services were closed for the day. That creates a problem when trying to travel from one city to another. Eventually the hotel was nice enough to find me a private vehicle and a driver to take me to Pune (at a premium).

Before I left for Pune I decided to take a walk in the local area around the hotel, but the hotel staff was adamant not to allow me out of the hotel grounds due to increase violence in the area. Eventually I suggested to the hotel host that I was going to take a walk, whether he thought it was a good idea or not, and either he can direct me or I will direct myself. That seemed to convince him that he should rather advise me than refuse me.

So eventually I got to see the streets. It was a short walk, the host had scarred me enough not to go far.

Like I said the walk was short, but I did get to some of the locals in the area. I wasn't sure but this area looked extremely poverty stricken, people living on the bear minimum. The building were falling apart, the streets were falling apart. The only decent looking building was the hotel I was staying in.

A little later that afternoon I left for Pune in the private vehicle. As I left I got ready for the journey which I suspected would be a long one, longer than what I'm use to for a 150km drive. We didn't get 1km down the road and the driver pulled off and instructed me to change vehicles, I was a little weary but complied. It turns out that the vehicle I was in was diesel powered and due to the shut down and various other reasons, getting diesel fuel was difficult and I was changed to a petrol powered vehicle.

On the road things in Mumbai weren't very different, huge apartment blocks falling apart and in a lot of cases you see building that haven't been completed and it appears that it will stay that way.

I arrived in Pune in what I think is India record time. The roads were empty (relatively), and the trip took only about two and half hours. When I started entering the Pune region, I started noticing masses of motorcycle commuters. All in all things in Pune look better than in Mumbai. From what I saw Mumbai looks like a dump, Pune looks more like a working city.

Traffic in India is a strange phenomenon. The system is chaotic, there are people, cars and bikes everywhere, where nobody follows any specific set of road rules. A friend I met up with this side explained that at 10:00 or 11:00 pm the traffic lights stop working. In South Africa that automatically means "treat at stop signs". Not here this means "anyone can go". The system is not what I'm use too, but because everybody does it, and everyone is aware that other people will "just go", nobody crashes into each other. It's a weird system, but it works.

I arrived at my hotel with plenty of day light, but I decided not to venture out onto the street, but did get some interesting photos from the hotel.

Both at the hotel in Mumbai and Pune, I came across what looks like falcons, that prey off the other birds and nests high on the buildings ledges and cranes.

This hotel is situation right next to a large railway station and as you look down you get some interesting and colorful pictures of the local commuters.

All in all the experience was interesting. The quantity of people and the road system is interesting. I think I would only attempt to drive here after being here for at least two weeks, but by that time I will already be back in South Africa.


  1. Very very nice! Enjoy the experience.

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