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Too many Mumbaikars in cars
March 21, 2007 10:55 PM   Subscribe

The Traffic Police of Mumbai (formerly Bombay, India), one of the most densely populated and traffic-ridden cities in the world, are becoming media savvy. They post billboards, answer traffic complaints sent via sms and have even started a scare campaign against drunk driving that places bloody drink coasters in bars. They are definitely taking their jobs seriously. And so far, some Mumbaikars seem pretty happy with their work.
posted by miss lynnster (34 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
(I keep picturing Mumbai bar owners getting angry that there are blood red ink stains all over their tables and bartops. But, who knows.)
posted by miss lynnster at 12:13 AM on March 22, 2007


Those coasters are quite something. I think the billboards are interesting but I can imagine each person sitting in her car thinking that if only 1,000 other people would stop taking a car, her own drive would be a lot faster.
posted by inconsequentialist at 12:46 AM on March 22, 2007


"Of the 3,67,142 cars in this city..."

Does the use of commas in numbers differ between India and the US? I'm not sure whether they meant to say 367 thousand or 3.67 million.
posted by H-Bar at 2:48 AM on March 22, 2007


H-Bar - might be because the writer is thinking in lakhs.
I thought the coasters were a striking campaign idea too.
posted by Abiezer at 3:16 AM on March 22, 2007


Those coasters are badass.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:55 AM on March 22, 2007


Does the use of commas in numbers differ between India and the US?

Yes.

I'm not sure whether they meant to say 367 thousand or 3.67 million.

The former.

Nice post!
posted by languagehat at 5:14 AM on March 22, 2007


I felicitate you for allowing me a dekho at the Mumbaikers in cars and the decongesting cops.
posted by peacay at 6:08 AM on March 22, 2007


Friends and family members who have gone to India, all say, "Don't even think about driving there. Hire a driver and just trust that he will get you to your destination without killing you or breaking any laws of physics in the process." I don't envy the jobs of Mumbai traffic cops.

Firefox's spell checker doesn't know Mumbai but does know Bombay.
posted by octothorpe at 6:30 AM on March 22, 2007


Firefox's spell checker doesn't know Mumbai but does know Bombay.

Those colonialists over at Firefox, still dreaming of the good old days...

posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:35 AM on March 22, 2007


Bombay is the traditional and normal name of the city in English, just as Moscow is the traditional and normal name of the city the Russians call Moskva. The fact that India is having increasing success with its campaign to get everyone to say "Mumbai" (for what come down to political reasons, and I happen to know that lots of people in the city are perfectly happy calling it Bombay) does not make it wrong, let alone evil and colonialist, to call it Bombay. It amazes me how eager people are to hop on these bandwagons, even when it comes to names, like "Myanmar," promoted by demonstrably evil regimes.
posted by languagehat at 6:47 AM on March 22, 2007


Hey languagehat, if you were at all referring to my "colonialist" comment above, it was meant as a joke. I say, a joke, son! I thought that might've been obvious, as the notion that "the folks at Firefox" would be, on the whole, "colonialist" just seemed so absurd. Well, it won't be the first time my meaning has been misinterpreted. Guess I gotta retool my humor delivery systems...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:02 AM on March 22, 2007


I know, I should've added a little winky face... I try to avoid using those, but... ah, whatever!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:06 AM on March 22, 2007


No, no, I knew that—I was just taking the word you'd used in jest and inserting it into my Standard Foreign-Name Rant—sorry to have given you reason to doubt your humor-conveying skillz!
posted by languagehat at 7:40 AM on March 22, 2007


It's hard to imagine any traffic police campaigns could make the slightest dent in Bombay traffic. I'm a New Yorker with a 2nd home at Shivaji Park in Bombay, and I have to laugh at anyone who thinks there's "traffic" in New York City. The simple task of getting to south Bombay can be outright maddening and I most certainly would not attempt it without a driver. Here's hoping that the Bandra-Worli Sea Link will make a significant difference. (http://www.bandraworlisealink.com/ and http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=265223).
posted by aletheia at 7:47 AM on March 22, 2007


The BBC's advice on driving in India is don't try & don't even watch. Is it much worse than the driving in Cairo or Bangkok, though? I haven't been to India yet, but the traffic looks similar to me: packed roads filled with livestock & rickshaws/camels & a zillion motorists who've never taken a driving test in their lives.

This joke about Indian traffic is pretty funny though. I particularly like Article VI.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:47 AM on March 22, 2007


Languagehat: In this case, Mumbai/Bombay isn't an external name only, the way your Moscow/Moskva example is. It's used by English-speaking Indians as well, internally. It would make a difference if we were talking about the Western world's naming only -- but as it stands, India has partially appropriated English for its own use. For its own use it has changed Bombay to Mumbai as a kind of active de-colonizing, in some of its own maps and textbooks, and I think to respect that self-definition by the citizens of a country is very important, and to actively not do that ignorant at worst.
posted by suedehead at 8:41 AM on March 22, 2007


Wait, Mumbai has traffic cops? I was there for a while this summer, and I could have sworn there weren't even any traffic *laws*, let alone cops to enforce them.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 10:34 AM on March 22, 2007


I think to respect that self-definition by the citizens of a country is very important, and to actively not do that ignorant at worst.

We'll have to agree to disagree. I'm perfectly willing to let anyone say "Mumbai" who prefers it that way, and I expect the same respect in return. "Bombay" is just as good an English word as any other, and the unilateral decision of someone halfway around the world affects me not at all. Call me ignorant if you like.

posted by languagehat at 11:40 AM on March 22, 2007


Also, don't say "English-speaking Indians" as if they all thought alike. As I said above, I know English-speaking Indians from Bombay who prefer the old form.

Just out of curiosity, where do you stand on the Myanmar/Burma issue?

posted by languagehat at 11:41 AM on March 22, 2007


The coasters are really brilliant and upsetting.
posted by serazin at 1:42 PM on March 22, 2007


I wasn't really commenting on the political implications of Bombay vs. Mumbai, I just thought that Firefox's word list should include both names for the city since both are used. Istanbul and Constantinople are both included for instance.
posted by octothorpe at 2:32 PM on March 22, 2007


But... who still calls it Constantinople? I'm thinking nobody?
posted by miss lynnster at 3:09 PM on March 22, 2007


People writing about the past? :p I always avoid Myanmar but had to use it in a translation recently at the client's behest.
posted by Abiezer at 3:11 PM on March 22, 2007


But... who still calls it Constantinople?

The Greeks, and I suspect the more traditional/imperialistic sorts of Russians (some of them probably still dream of seizing the Straits and the City as their reward for keeping the Orthodox faith alive and powerful).
posted by languagehat at 3:30 PM on March 22, 2007


They do? Huh. I missed noticing that when I was over there.
posted by miss lynnster at 3:40 PM on March 22, 2007


You're willing to care about what people actually call themselves? You gonna stop calling it Germany, then?
posted by MythMaker at 6:22 PM on March 22, 2007


Or start calling Japan Nippon?
posted by MythMaker at 6:24 PM on March 22, 2007


Nein. Ich sage Deutschland. Soooo, was ist los? Das ist gut genug für mich. Macht nichts, ja wohl?
posted by miss lynnster at 6:53 PM on March 22, 2007


miss lynnster: yes, the traffic in India is worse than both Cairo & Bangkok, at least in the sense of more batshitinsane.

The Gyppos are nearing the batshitinsanity level of the Indian drivers, but in India you also have cyclists, cows, bullock carts, pariah dogs, beggars, pigs, camels, rickshaws, autorickshaws, handcarts, hawkers, scooters, motorbikes and occasional elephants to deal with.

All that, on seriously shitty, narrow, potholed roads, which are lorded by truck & bus drivers with a manic deathwish & a gutful of spurious liquor.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:32 PM on March 22, 2007


D'ach!

lynnster fraulein.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:33 PM on March 22, 2007


Indian out here who still insists on calling the cities as Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras and Bangalore when speaking in English. When I speak in my mother tongue, Telugu, they become Dhilli, Baumbayi, Kalakattaa, Madraasu and BemgaLuuru.

As noted (Indian) architect Charles Correa once said (or almost said), Bombay is a world-city, a melting pot where cultures intermingle, while Mumbai, sadly, is just a provincial capital that happens to have a rather large population.

In short, 'Bombay Police' has a certain Scotland-Yard-isque appeal that the incompetent, seemingly mafia-friendly 'Mumbai Police' doesn't.

I used to call the country Myanmar, and in fact, have a t-shirt that reads the name, but a Burmese friend of Chinese descent recenty told me that most people he know prefer 'Burma' over 'Myanmar'.

UbuRovias: Leopards. Never forget the Leopards. In contemporary India, even they have moved to Bombay, possibly in search of tinsel town glamour .
posted by the cydonian at 11:55 PM on March 22, 2007


Truly, now that I know they exist, being a traffic officer in India is just about the only thing I could imagine scarier than being a passenger, auto-wise!
posted by VulcanMike at 5:21 AM on March 23, 2007


Indeed, when I first read about it, I did miss the statistics in the article:- the case of 4 year old kid, who was mauled, killed, and dropped right in front of his house, was only the twenty-third such incident this year.

Yeh, blame the leopards. Was this in Noida, by any chance?
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:08 PM on March 23, 2007


Yeh, blame the leopards. Was this in Noida, by any chance?

Subtle. :-)
posted by the cydonian at 3:46 AM on March 24, 2007


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