Monday, February 28, 2011

A day in the life of Delhi Metro

The phone rang, I was still half asleep, it was my friend on the other side. In an excited high pitch tone she asked me to hurry up and make it to Cannaught Place in Delhi by an hour cause we were to meet and she had limited time. Getting to Cp in an hour would mean, to get up, brush, attend nature’s call and bath, all in a matter of 15 minutes (humanly impossible) followed by an almost sprint to the metro station, bypassing the semi molesting check by the women guards, getting the bag cleared and then making a dash to the stairs leading up to the station. All that done and in an almost a blow to your panting, losing breath efforts you see the metro you wish to take gliding away with people from within passing that sadist smile making you aware of your failure in the game called, ‘survival of the ‘swiftest’’. Once inside the metro begins the game of exchanging gazes. The fact of you being an object of observation fully dawns upon you once inside the Delhi metro. As if the semi-molesting guard woman who checks you at the entrance had not done her bit, there’s another eye scanner you are put through by your fellow passengers. The girls might scan you for your clothes and men? Well they really don’t need a reason.
Well now that we have a whole compartment to ourselves, women can breathe easier (both metaphorically and literally). However, earlier, the mere task of getting into the metro made you feel as victorious and triumphant as Alexander himself. Being short in height by conventional and all other standards, I have had some terrible experiences myself. Standing amidst tall towering men I have had to struggle to find place to perch my feet and contest for the limited breathing space with my fellow passengers. And then the nose lacking the necessary filter for foul smells and pungent odours, there is not much one can do but to incorrigibly wait for your destination. Then there’s another struggle for holding on to the handles meant for support, well for those as short as me, we have to make do with body balance, stretch out your feet wide, arms on side, and pray that the metro doesn’t take abrupt screechy halts.
However, direct your attention to the people around and you might earn yourself a little entertainment for no cost. Wailing babies, men sleeping and even snoring even while standing, people with headphones in their ears harmonically bobbing their heads, conversations of last night’s match, the latest movie, who died and made a comeback in the daily, share market, love, friendship and the usual cribbing about the Delhi weather which is more often than not disappointing and debilitating.
Then a look at those who are regally seated; they appear to almost recreate the look of a peaceful serenity that Buddha would have reflected under the tree where he got enlightened. If getting in the metro was Alexandrous, then getting a seat is like a colonial conquer. Those who are left standing are the damned lot who curse their Karma for being so unfortunate as to not get a seat. Over the months some even devise a scheme of prowl and vigil and sneak a seat when it is vacated on the rarest of occasions. It’s a 3 step deal: look, lurk and grab. However, the calmness and contentment of those with seats is fairly short lived, because invariably there’d be someone to dishevel their god-sent peace, trying to adjust his/her ass for that little extra space left in the otherwise packed bench.
However, despite all this and more, metro still remains to be the most preferred medium of conveyance. It’s air conditioned, takes lesser time to reach any place in Delhi and is a much better alternative than the overpriced autos and the much maligned blue line. So I brace myself, walking to the women’s compartment with a cheerful gait ignoring all the snide looks that men pass at any women for stealing away the special privilege of reservation. But do I care? I deserve it for all the lecherous and scathing glances I have endured and besides I have a friend waiting, who'll leave if I don't reach on time. :P


  1. Hhahah .. it can't be that tough :P

    like the end though ! :)

  2. @Utkarsh: thanks :)
    @manan: you haven't ever taken the metro so you wouldn't was pretty bad earlier, now its easier because of the reservation

  3. I liked the way you write. The description(s) Alexanderous,survival of the swiftest and many others were just very good. Keep it up in spite of the comments, good or bad.

    Suresh Mandan

  4. @Suresh Mandan: Thanks for the encouragement

  5. Oh don't you get me started,once at the very CP station in discussion,i had to take the underground metro,all i had to do was stretch my hands up,to the fullest & let the mob push me through,(do remember,i had no say in it ),so there i was all hands up,the metro comes in & i get without any free will of my own,pushed in by the crowd inside the bogie, & "clunk" find myself clenching to the steel baars (hands up is a good idea then :))
    Apart of this , you can have real fun in metro,people generally do,ESPECIALLY THE UNDERGROUND METRO-oh,the pain bearing fine memories.
    So one day,as i get inside my train,a man comes up to the door running in full might,,but on seeing that the train is full,stops at the gate & turns back & wins my adoration for doing the right thing,but nooooooo,
    Any guesses why he went back.
    A RUNUP(cue for laughter)
    & that too with a bag in his hand.
    So he braces himself,runs up to the door & a full long jump into the compartment,people inside are no support,they just snigger ,even though a there's some space in the mid-section,
    So there it is,our valinet knight,half stuck in between the doors & bammmm,the doors get him,7 his bagthe contents of which might now be crushed to smithereens :)

    Do people care or get a lesson from all this ,sadly NO
    Anyway,Awesome,you actually touched upon the hot contemporary topiuc & a triumph it is !
    Keep writing!!!

  6. & secondly It's valiant (not valinet) which i seemed to have miswritten,saury maaee EEnglishh seems to bee gettingh pooarer bai da Day.
    HAve an awesome day !

  7. @sunny: I am glad you shared your experience. I have seen struggling with the doors enough times myself, people get in and somehow make room for themselves in an already stuffy metro, and ya people used all sorts of stuff to block the doors and therefore the improvised announcements every few months.
    I have stopped taking the metro these days but I could never get the whole experience of being packed amidst sweaty smelly people in an over stuffed almost stifling coaches of the metro out of my head and i knew that I had to talk about it at some forum. The reservation for women is the best thing that could happen for Delhi women.

  8. "I have stopped taking the metro these days but I could never get the whole experience of being packed amidst sweaty smelly people in an over stuffed almost stifling coaches"
    Try any disco,it's much the same :D

  9. @sunny: that's why m not too much of a party person..the only parties I hv been to haven't been that stuffy :)