I travel by the Metro on a daily basis (Well, so do others), and I happen to get these sudden blog ideas (Well, so…), this post is one such manifestation.
(They say in Mumbai local trains, you don’t need to enter or exit the compartment. The maddening crowd pushes you in and out with un-patronising force. In Delhi Metro, I witness scuffles and heated exchanges between X and Y, all in the surrounding hustle and bustle. l keep count of the familiar Gaali shabd. However, my thoughts go to Chennai. My city too is scheduled to have a metro in a year or two and I can only imagine the chaotic crowd and the slurs in the local dialect.)
Here, I am at Rajiv Chowk and this is where it all begins. The trick is to enter the compartment unharmed, verbally and physically (May I add ‘extensively’). As anticipated, the mob crowd behind pushes me inside and I manage to hold onto the overhead handle. Before the doors firmly shut, I see one of the glittering advertising spaces proclaiming, “Want to advertise? With footfall of more than 6 lakhs, indisputably the busiest metro station in all of Delhi, this is the best spot for you.” (I have taken the liberty to paraphrase the ad)
I couldn’t agree more, but my immediate concern is to find a seat to rest my ***. “You have just got in and want a seat right away?” asks the incredulous inner voice. That rests my case.
The train approaches the next station. Patel Chowk. Hmm. I don’t think these people would want to visit the Metro Museum. Pass.
Central Secretariat is one station which is worth looking forward to. Government employees! The violet line to Badarpur originates from there, as well. The station arrives and I see a silver lining but unfortunately so did another person. We both stared at each other, I indicated him to sit, he proved equally hospitable. In the ensuing stand-off, a middle aged man walks in calmly and takes the seat. Worse still, he stretches his leg. I relapse into my grumbling state.
Udyog Bhavan? Nothing to say. Pass.
The announcer bellows Race Course and I am extremely optimistic. This station is bound to be popular with commuters! I mean, who would want to pass up on an opportunity to visit 7 RCR and take selfies in front of the official residence of the Indian PM? Certainly not me, alas, my destination is elsewhere. To my dismay, however, not a single soul exits the compartment. That was disappointing.
AIMS next up and I casually throw a glance at my co-commuters. No offense, but here is the best hospital in India. It is only natural that ailing people get down. I make my way through the crowd and position myself directly in front of an elderly couple. The station arrives and the couple duly walks out through the doors. I take the cue and sit down with a sense of worldly achievement and a strange glee in my face. Whoo! I have atlast got a seat. But that exhilarating feel is about to end momentarily. A young lady with an infant in her arms walks in, followed by her husband carrying the luggage. She looks beseechingly and I, well versed with the drill, promptly made way.
INA is fast approaching. My friend once quizzed me; “what does INA stand for?” Indian National Army! He was silenced. (My familiarity with this station largely centres around Dilli Haat, and the nearby markets.) So, there is a scope after all.
I also noticed that INA was frequented by our friends from Africa and so, when I see one such guy about to disembark, I make my move. Just then, he receives a call. “What? You want me to come to Saket? Okay..”
Green Park. Pass.
The next station is fast approaching. Haus Khas. I see a couple of young students (presumably belonging to IIT or JNU, a little further up), not to mention the odd working professional (undoubtedly living in one of the sarais- Ber, Katwaria, Jia etc) getting to the exits. I have a split second decision to make. But then, never mind, this is where I get down.