Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Delhi Metro

Well this is a new phenomena may be 5-6 years old. The concept of mass transit system though existent in Kolkata (erstwhile Calcutta) in a small way has now caught up in National Capital Region. The days are gone when you would see sights of people hanging from the doors of a blue line bus to get to their office or back to their homes. The history of Delhi Metro can be read on wikipedia. So, no point in writing about it. What I am going to write is about the mass of humanity it serves each day and the varying flavors one can see while you are in transit. I had to visit Delhi recently and I used this new phenomenon quite often for my transit purposes. Even while traveling alone, just looking at the people around you can be a very exciting experience, though it can earn a few scornful look when you give a little longer than cursory glance towards the female of human species (beautiful or not is debatable). Looking around you, it is quite easy to separate out the first timers like me from the seasoned riders. Take for instance first timers like me will be holding on to something to balance themselves when the train accelerates or decelerates close to a station but the seasoned once will stand without any support and on top of it will conveniently read a novel or send long sms to their friends without even blinking an eyelid. On the reading habits there is a distinction, one can spot a few riders intently reading something. If it’s a male the most probable thing would be a newspaper with the sports or economy section in front of his face and if it’s a female it can be anything from a Jeffery Archer to a MBA coaching institute practice paper. Then there are the loud band wallahs with their loud clothes and high decibel mobile phones on which the latest hits would be there for everyone to listen absolutely free of cost. Only catch, the band wallah gets to pick the song you are just an odd listener. Another hot activity is talking on the mobile with the hands free plugged into the ear and the hands busy sending sms. The most astonishing part of the metro is the absence of red blotches that one would invariably see on the corners of all government and semi-government buildings. Yes, the pan masala gang is missing. Though eating or drinking is prohibited in all facilities of Delhi metro but sometimes you can find some occasional homo sapiens huffing and puffing in with an odd fruit in hand. Out of couple of instance I came across people eating on the train one instance was quite funny. There was this lady who boarded the overcrowded train with an apple in her hand. Once settled she took her first bite and at the very same moment the public address system started its monotonic announcement that eating and drinking inside any metro premises is prohibited. Well she might have been deaf, since she continued with her endeavor. On a more serious note, one can see the father eager to get back home or the mother worrying about her kids back home or the odd couples sharing brief moments of intimacy and the list goes on. You can also spot the odd beings vacating their seats for the elderly or the rude vehemently occupying his ladies only seat even though a few ladies are standing around. Then there are those able bodied ones who evict another being from a seat saying the seat is reserved for handicapped people just because the other probably can’t read the signs pasted there. Another notable thing about the metro is its cleanliness, clearly telling the world if there is a will even in India things can work the way they should. This metro is just the beginning. A lot more cities in this country will benefit from such transit systems specially places like Kanpur where four people are stuffed like cattle in a space just big enough for three people.

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