Reflections

“Appa, look! There is a blue train flying high in the sky!”

The office of Deccan Chronicle, and that’s where I work, is located at Guindy Industrial Estate. To be precise, it is just behind the Olympia IT Park, which is a stone’s throwaway from the newly constructed Ekkaduthangal metro station.

Having my residence at Anna Nagar, I had two public transport options to my office. The MTC bus service (more of which later) or the shared cab service, which has greatly evolved to be now counted as a public transit system. Alternatively, I could have, anytime, flagged down an auto and arrived in style. But not before haggling with the auto driver regarding the fare. And oh, after all that negotiating, the drivers do put the meter but that’s only for the ‘records’.

I primarily use the MTC bus service, of which there are multiple routes plying on the Jawaharlal Nehru Road. That was due to convenience rather than preference. Though Chennai has a well-connected bus network, bested by very few cities in the country, it has become a common grouse that the journey is cumbersome, due to the worsening traffic, especially during the peak office hours. Ironically, several busy arterial roads in the city have lost out too much space due to the metro rail construction work. Risky foot boarding, sweaty faces and jam-packed buses – not an ideal journey all in all.

That was until Monday though. With the commissioning of the much-awaited metro rail, I have one more public transit option and at first glance one that is very much welcoming. Boarding the train at CMBT station (the connection to Anna Nagar is yet being built) at 6.10 PM in the evening, I barely finished my conversation about the new addition to the city with a fellow traveler, when the train pulled into the Ekkaduthangal station. The journey completed in less than 15 minutes and more significantly in absolute comfort. If I had taken the bus around at the same time, I would have probably reached by 6.40 PM and that is not factoring in the very much possible traffic scenario. There are some notorious signals, including the infamous Vadapalani junction, which could easily delay your travel time. But, operating at a higher plain, the metro thankfully avoids all the congestion on the roads below.

However there is a grouse, and acceptable in that too, aimed at the metro. It can be summed up by a pointed conversation between a child and his father. Towards the end of the journey, I overheard the kid asking, “Father, what happens if I lose the small token (ticket)?” to which the dad replied, “I think we have to pay a fine.” “But, we already are paying such a high amount anyway!”

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