One of my ambitions has been to be met at an airport by someone holding a piece of cardboard with my name on it. This may seem a strange thing but it has me scanning the throng at every arrivals area. Yesterday, I walked out of Mumbai airport and luxuriated in a slow walk down a long line of anxious faces above variegated placards. There was one with my name on it, held by an ernest young man with a neat black moustache and a crisp blue shirt. He took me to receive the warmest welcome I have ever received. Two magnificent ladies thrust flowers into my hands and told me they recognised me because I looked like my son who they spoke of in glowing terms.
It was wonderful to be greeted in this way, a perfect beginning to my Indian adventure.
The Mumbai traffic is interesting. Five or six ragged lanes of vehicles ranging from motorcycles and motorised rickshaws to heavy goods vehicles and JCB's fight for progress. None of these appears to possess working indicators that might reduce the surprise of their sudden and haphazard changes in direction. There is no system of priorities, if a gap appears in the general direction they are heading, every vehicle competes for it even if it is too small to accommodate them. Anything turning across the flow of traffic appears to have equal rights. Sprinkle in a good measure of foolhardy pedestrians and you have the perfect mix for chaos.
What strikes me is the equanimity with which the lurching lack of progress is endured. Although everyone is constantly leaning on their horns there is a complete absence of negative reaction. They all seem grateful just to remain unscathed after their latest suicidal manoeuvre. Tempers are conspicuous by their absence. Where there are no rules, none get broken and there is nothing to get shirty about.
One thing I love is the way that everyone addresses me as Mr. David. It has a remarkable quality that combines respect with friendliness. I may encourage this form of address when I get home.
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