Friday, March 19, 2010

The Lunatic Express

In Outside magazine, an excerpt from Carl Hoffman's new book:

By population, the city—just nineteen miles across, with 19 million souls—was bigger than 173 countries. The population density of America was thirty-one people per square kilometer; Singapore 2,535 and Bombay island 17,550; some neighborhoods had nearly one million people per square kilometer. A neverending stream of Indians was migrating to Mumbai, which was swelling, groaning, barely able to keep pace. In 1990 an average of 3,408 people were packing a nine-car train; ten years later that number had grown to more than 4,500. Seven million people a day rode the trains, fourteen times the whole population of Washington, D.C. But it was the death rate that shocked the most; Nasirbhai was no exaggerating alarmist. In April 2008 Mumbai's Central and Western railway released the official numbers: 20,706 Mumbaikers killed on the trains in the last five years. They were the most dangerous conveyances on earth.

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