When I wrote radio news bulletins years ago, and had to get up at 5am to do it, I used to marvel at the number of bush crashes in India.
One day, being a trifle facetious, I wrote a news story about how on this particular day I could find absolutely NO evidence of there being a single bus crash reported anywhere on the continent.
The real journalists told me off for taking the mickey and some months afterwards one of them wrote to me to say she had been in a bus crash in India and they were no joke. I have since seen the scar to prove this.
I would suspect that it was soon after this that I gave up the facts altogether and started concentrating on fiction.
But today I did the Reality Tours public transport tour of Mumbai – which involved getting a taxi to the meeting place, a bus to the train station, a train station to the flower market, another train to a different market, and a taxi back to the train station.
This is a lot of public transport for anyone – but in the 35 degree heat of Mumbai it was something else. Actually, I loved it! (There must be something in the tea here because I love everything.) And we didn't even come close to crashing - unlike last night when our rickshaw driver took out a motorcyclist but that's another story.
Today we were going against the rush hour, which I suspect was the key: although at one train station our arrival coincided with that of a train bursting with men pushing and shoving to get off and make a connection. Our guide, the lovely Suraj who also took me around the Dharavi slum earlier in the week, shoved myself and Kathryn, the other person on the tour (an acrobat instructor from Melbourne), in front as we were carried up the stairs in the throng.
If anyone was going to give us a whole body massage, he said, it would be him!
Suraj is currently my favourite person in the world because he says I am beautiful and clever.
I tried to tell him he was beautiful too but he said no, he is handsome.
Interestingly enough, we had quite a chat about being handsome. He said he used to be more handsome before he spent so much time in the sun and his skin darkened.
I said that I thought handsome was more about bones and features, and Kathryn thought eyes but then we explained that where we come from people go out in the sun so they can make their skin darker!
Suraj said women are also considered less beautiful if they are darker and I said surely a good personality counted for something.
“It would have to be a very good personality,” was his answer.
If you are in Mumbai and want to tour the city, choose Suraj. His smile is worth the price of admission.