I arrived safely at the Anjali Inn and couldn't be happier to have a flat surface to sleep on. The trouble was actually relaxing enough to fall asleep after nearly 22 hours of trying to sleep. I asked "Can I use your phone, or can you point me in the direction of a phone I can use, so that I can let my family know that I am safe?" They replied, "In the morning". It was 3am, I asked, "Can you define morning?" "9am".
I was eager to explore the next day. Though very soon after, I got the impression that this wasn't a place interested in being explored.
There were very few sidewalks in Andheri, at least ones that could be used. Some were torn up, others were covered with rubble, some were blocked by market carts and others were blocked by broken rickshaws. The rest were traversed by people, bikes, and motorcycles.
As I expected, the root of congested urban living was the same here as anywhere else. What appeared to be the center, was not far from the Cinema's depiction of New York cities' "5 points". Everyone was on the street and there are no yards because home is where you sleep. People seemed to be walking without direction, just as I was, I wondered if they were seeking what I was seeking? Just like any 'miracle mile' in the outskirts or city block, the usual food chain and corporate chain is replaced here by the individual. Every other block you can find your banana stand, apple stand, xerox station, general store and one variety of trade-shop, like bicycle fixing.
The traffic in Andheri and most major roads will be very hard to express, regarding its intensity and disengaged fury. I've sat in traffic and have traversed roads in every major city in the U.S., as well as other major cities in Western Europe, and never have I seen such chaos. There are few traffic lights and in general, most of the time you can witness people traveling in the same direction. Beyond that the object is to get wherever you feel like going, by whatever means necessary. Because of this mentality, on corners in major intersections, you'll find rocks laying on the side walk to prevent rickshaws and motorcycles from cutting the corner too quickly. These aren't ornamental pillars of granite or boulders, in most cases they are still caked with dry mud that was stuck to them when they came out of the ground! This, as crude of a solution that it is, is necessary because the motorcycles will tread the sidewalk, honking relentlessly.
With exception of the really major highways, there are few lines marking lanes. As I traveled from Andheri to Santacruz, I saw two immaculate horse drawn carriages on the highway. So without lines to mark lanes, you can imagine how disorienting it can be. If you take the width of a three lane road, which in America would fit three vehicles respectively, here the same width road will host sometimes 5 vehicles wide, with cycles cutting and weaving through. I saw one motorcycle with Father behind the handle bars, 4 year old daughter clinging to him, Mother behind her, sitting sideways because of her skirt, and toddler son situated on the gas tank. Even with this, Father drove as aggressively as everyone else, and everyone else proceeded to honk, cut-off and tail-gate, regardless of the potential danger.
I spent two nights and 15 daylight hours in Andheri. It was an interesting experience in that I was, as it appeared, the only foreigner. This place isn't a tourist attraction. I didn't see anyone of any other ethnicity walking these streets. I was like a ghost, walking alone, with the crowd often parting for me. Many people simply stared, others were curiously indifferent and those who did engage me, did so as one would speak to a ghost; "Where are you going?" "What are you doing here?". Perhaps if I stayed one more day I'd have been asked "Why won't you leave?", but that's just speculation.