An important step to reveal the gendered nature of spatial mobility is by segregating the micro-activities that one does while travelling. In his essay The Social Consequences of Hypermobility, John Adams talks about the concept of hypermobility, problematising the perils of increasing distances travelled by Britons in the 1990s (Adams, 1995). He further adds that this hypermobility would be essentially anti-public transit and would directly harm people opting for public transport (ibid). A similar phenomenon can be seen in the case of Mumbai, with commuters willing to travel farther and farther. A study by the CEPT University’s Centre for Excellence for Urban Transport estimates the average Mumbaikar travels 12.3 km to work in a single trip, every day (CET, 2018). However, this figure only considers the male commuter, and CUET’s data reveals that women in all the surveyed cities travel far less in trains and prefer “safer”, more pedestrian-friendly modes like walking (ibid). The average trip length has also increased significantly, with more women joining the formal workforce and opting to commute longer for work. This is where it is important to examine their hypermobilities through the intersection of gender. Lesley Murray in her essay Motherhood, Risk and Everyday Mobilities posits that hypermobility can be constructed and reinforced by motherhood, a role which is still highly gendered in the Indian context, whereas we can observe that care work or parenting is not gender-specific. Murray further supports this hypothesis by extending it to gendered and generational mobility - the experience of mobility by the parent (or mother) and their child is especially embedded with risk (Murray, 2008).
Along the same vein, one respondent, when asked about how other members of her family travelled, told us, “The others generally travel by train. My mother normally doesn't because she's having arthritis and problems walking. Usually, I buy things for her, she calls me when she needs something. My brother’s kids are very small to travel on their own. My brother goes to work in his company’s vehicle.” This revealed the multiple roles and the subtle deviations of routes women take to fulfil their family’s needs. This goes in conjunction with hypermobility - longer trip lengths can enable more tasks as errands to be added to women’s to-do lists.
Daily Commute - from the men’s perspective
While the sample size of our interviews lays emphasis on women and gender minorities and their narratives, we also focused on including a few male commuters in our cohort. We tried to interview men in lesser numbers but targeted diverse age ranges. Through their narratives, it was important to understand the contrasting nature of men’s travels, and that women’s travel patterns are almost complimentary to their male family members' experiences in some cases. This complimentary nature manifests in different forms - either through hypermobility coupled with added errands or through limited mobility, where the women have little to no opportunities to travel. One respondent says, “I stay in Vashi, and I get up for Namaaz early in the morning. Then I catch a train at 8 o'clock from Vashi and come here (CSMT). I have my own business here.” When asked about how his family members travel, he adds “Family members, they rarely travel. If they have some occasion then they travel, otherwise, they don't.”