Friday, March 26, 2010

Wyoming under my window

Someone from Wyoming asked me the population of Bombay the other day, and he nearly had a cardiac arrest when I told him that as per the official census taken in2001, 18 million people lived in the city. Once he had recovered, he told me that the population of his entire state was a little over 500,000, and we surmised that in all probability more people used the railway station closest to my house in a day, than there were people in his entire state.

Naturally, I could not leave it at that, so I dug around for more information. An average of seven million commuters used the local trains every day last year, so we can assume that a third of the population uses the trains. The population of the catchment area of the railway station nearest mmy house is (hold your breath) 4 million people. Which means that if you apply the city-wise average to the suburb I live in, almost 1.5 million use the railway station every day.

The suburb I live in is divided into two parts- the predominantly residential area to the West, and the industrial areas to the East. Assuming an equitable division of the population on either side, 750,000 people from the western part of the suburb walk through the railway station every day (it figure is more likely to be 1 million, but we'll go with the lower figure for now). Three arterial roads lead to the station, of which two have been blocked off so an alternate railway network can be laid. All the traffic has been diverted to the road on which our apartment is situated, so more people pass under my bedroom window everyday than the entire population of Wyoming!

Bedlam is too mild a word to describe the state of traffic, specially since there are neither traffic lights, not traffic policemen to regulate traffic. And that is what we have been living with for the past five months, and would be doing for the rest of the year.

But, that's not the end of the story. Last week, the road was dug up to lay telecom cables, and the rubble was piled up on either side of the trench, reducing the width of the road by half. Pedestrians like me neither had a pavement to walk on, not space on the road to walk. A deep trench on one side, vehicles on the other.

Luckily, the trenches were filled up in just over a week, and we got the road back- the same road that hosts a population equivalent to that of the tenth largest state in the United States.

I know the city needs basic infrastructure, and telecom is as important as mass transportation. But, would it kill people to time their work better?


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Construction is the same the world over! One big pain in the ass while it's going on, but everyone benefits from the end results!

Mason Canyon said...

When it comes to working on roads and such, I think the officials in charge always pick the worst time possible to do it. It's always like they want to see how bad they can make it, so when it's done (usually not right) we'll just be happy to have it back.

Ann Elle Altman said...

Sure puts it into perspective, doesn't it? I live in a city of 6 million and well, I find it similar to yours. We do have traffic lights, even though some don't work but I love our policemen (transitos) that stand in the street and direct traffic. I often want to bring them a coke on really hot days.


Anonymous said...

Wow - that is a LOT of people! There are about 1 million in greater Stockholm - which is a huge area. In my municipality, we are 27,000.

dipali said...


Watery Tart said...

It's so stunning to me, how densely populated it is in Bombay. Ann Arbor has about 200,000... of course it feels relatively small in a lot of ways, but that is more because it is wealthy than because it is actually small (so everyone has houses rather than apartments, and there is little poverty, crime, etc. which is where they psyche of a lot of cities comes from). But even here, compared to out west, it is extremely dense. (I think Michigan is the 7th most populated state, but almost all that is in my quarter)--Idaho, where I grew up had less than a million people, and has the 3rd largest surface area of states in the US (bigger even than California if you'd flatten it--only texas and alaska are bigger) so the kind of density you are talking about baffles me a little.

Marjorie said...

6,600,000. That is about the population of Arizona. Tucson ,where I live, has over 500,000 people and the entire county in which I live has over 1,000,000. Phoenix is the United States' 5th most populated city. It boasts almost 4,000,000.

I used to live in Jacksonville, Florida. The Greater Jacksonville Metropolitan Area is over 1,000,000 people as well. Jacksonville is also the largest city in land area in the US.

To think that all the huge cities that I have lived in or been to are so dwarfed by Bombay absolutely blows my mind.

Jan Morrison said...

I absolutely can't contain those numbers in my head. I come from a province that is (wait while I go check) 55284 square kilometres (21,300 square miles) and has a population of 909 thousand people - that is right 909 THOUSAND not million, not billion. We are the second smallest, the fourth smallest in population but the second MOST dense in population (huge amounts of Canada are virtually unpopulated) When my brother visits from up North he thinks it is far too populated here! When I go to Toronto or to Boston my mind gets tired thinking of all the people I have to get to know...

Southpaw said...

I think they plan it that way on purpose to amuse themselves.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Debra - it is good to know it is not the case only in India

@ Mason - that could be it. Sometimes I am almost convinced that is it.

@ Ann - our countries are so similar in many fundamental ways, aren't they? We do have traffic lights, and when they don't work, we have those really hard working policemen to direct traffic. But since ours is not an arterial road (though it has been forced to become one), no traffic lights :-(

@ Fiona - I can't believe all of Stockholm has only a million people. Sure puts things in perspective.

@ Dipali - so many people, so little space :-(

@ Tami - I can't even start to get the two extremes in perspective. But then a fifth of humanity is crowded into a relatively small country like India - 7th largest, I think, but nowhere in the same league as a Canada or a USA

@ Marjorie - more people crowd into our trains every day than live in the entire state of Arizona! And as many people in Phoenix as in my suburb. Never realised we were that crowded.

@ Jan - and my mind can't comprehend your numbers either. Two extremes. And to think your brother thinks your part of the country is crowded!

@ Southpaw - I think so too. And thanks for visiting.

Al said...

Melbourne is about 4 million quite a bit smaller than Bombay.
The whole population of Oz is about 22 million, not that far ahead of Bombay!


Publish or Perish

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Al - makes me breathless to even think that in a year of two there would be more people in Greater Bombay than in all Australia! Amazing.

Al said...

We are truly spoiled, with one of the lowest population densities in the world. Although the vast majority of Oz is semi-arid or true desert.
Even here in Victoria (our most densely populated state), I can get photos of wildlife in near wilderness within an hours drive.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

Yes, Al, the photographs you post do not seem like photographs taken by someone living in the most populous state of a country. But then, you get fantastic mountains two hours drive out of Mumbai, uncrowded beaches an hour away, and a national park right within the city limits!
On one hand, we have people, people and more people, and on the other, there are places in Bombay where you find panthers on the streets (they are instantly tranquillised and taken back to the national park they escaped from).


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