Despite the attempts of many people to prove otherwise, Bombay, India, is still the most happening city in the Indian subcontinent. With its cosmopolitan nature, friendly people and fun attitude, Bombay is the perfect place for any self respecting Indian. Of course, due to the "Save our culture" brigade, our useless politicians have renamed it Mumbai. Of course, they never exactly took into account the sentiments of the citizenry, many of whom still call it Bombay, and therefore, I will refer to the city as Bombay throughout this entry. On with the info!
Bombay is situated on the western coast of India. It is the capital of the state of Maharashtra, and houses the best and the worst administration in the history of politics(barring the capital, perhaps!). The city is divided into various areas: Bandra(the coolest coz I live here), Andheri, Jogeshwari, Kurla, Matunga, Malad, Worli, blah, blah....the list is endless, and the only way to get to know your way around is to get lost a few zillion times. However, be warned, the figure for foreigners, is even higher! On to transportation...
Once again the best and the worst way to get around is to use the bus. Why are they the best, you ask? Simply because they are run by the Bombay(now Brihanmumbai) Electric Supply and Transport Company(BEST). Of course, the fact that they are the only ones in town may have something to do with it. If you decide to use the trains, prepare to brave the crowds, who'll stop at nothing to get in. The trains are bursting at the seams, even at six in the morning! People will practically be hanging on by one finger, and spilling out of the doors, which obviously are not automatic, and are never closed. As for getting into the buses, just follow these tips:
Stand away from the queue and wait for the bus.
Once it arrives, make a mad dash for the door, pushing everyone aside by the sheer force of your leap.
Never fight with the conductor, he's probably from the nearest lunatic asylum, and always carry exact change. It is a fact of life in Bombay that the conductor never has any change.
When your stop arrives, use the entrance instead of the exit. It is easier to push the people getting in.
Once you're out, you're free to shout the worst expletives that come to mind at the conductor, and tear up the ticket, imagining that you're ripping him in half!
In short, the only way to use public transport in Bombay, is, to quote a teacher of mine, to be a FOOL!
For the gluttons among us, this city houses some of the best and worst restaurants, you can find. For the penniless hitchhiker, might I recommend the pav bhaji and the bhel puri. These are available all over the place and are guaranteed to give you a night of indigestion, unless you're a local, of course. For the not so penniless hitchhiker, the world's best cuisines stretch before you. Besides all the foreign cuisines, there are also about seventeen different Indian styles to choose from as well. After all, Bombay is the Manhattan of the East....
This shouldn't be much of a problem, since most respectable people will speak English. Of course, there are always those who speak Hindi(national language), Marathi(state language), Urdu, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi,etc(take your pick from 30 official languages, each spoken in various dialects!).
A good knowledge of Bambaiya Hindi or Hinglish(Hindi + English) is an added advantage. If you're pestered by certain lower life forms(they try to sell foreigners anything!) just reply with a curt "Oye, havaldar ko bulayenga, kya?".
Hopefully, our highly intelligent team of researchers will take this into account if they decide to visit Bombay; feel free to call upon me, I'm free till next year!