There are enough reasons already to be weary of while walking down the road in Mumbai. You have speeding bikes, honking and screeching cars, BEST buses and the aggressive autos and taxis shooting off in all directions. Add to that lack of footpaths or a walking space and those ubiquitous and annoying hawkers. So walking is a huge struggle. It gets extremely stressful and one has to constantly look out for one’s own safety. There is a constant and growing talk of how uncertain and unsafe walking has become in Mumbai, you wouldn’t know what hit you- literally and figuratively.
So there is this constant sense of looming danger; at least while walking on a road. Ironically, in the past few years, this feeling has been replaced by; or rather trumped up by another (not so life threatening) paranoia. That of someone spitting on you while you’re walking. The spitting bug seems to have bitten everyone. I see people spitting out and spitting away while driving vehicles, on railways stations, out of the buses and on the roads. I remember being almost spat on by a man from inside a bus while I was boarding it. The habit is extremely unhygienic and disgusting and left me infuriating.
And they do it with flair. Like an artist owns his colours and brushes, these spitters like to throw stuff out of their mouths in style. They point and shoot; sometimes don’t even point. As if they’re proud of it. And unapologetic (like artists) if anyone doesn’t approve of their ‘art.’ You see such arrogance that they don’t even bother to look around and see if they might spray on someone. There is an argument that people who have flocked to Mumbai from a certain state or two are the ones who eat paan (which that certain region is famous for) and spit. But that’s not true. There is a spittathon out there and it’s crazy. It is not only unethical and unhygienic but means vandalism. We, those who will likely be at the receiving have to be aware of the spit bullets hitting us out of nowhere.
I live in fear; I dread the day when I will get spat on. I don’t know how I will react. Will i abuse, will i hit the culprit, will i curse my guts out, lower myself to hurling Hindi/Marathi abuses? I don’t know what is the solution. As it is everything and every day of living in Mumbai is a war, now there’s an addition of one more woe. Just wish that walking on the road was simpler.