The adventures in Delhi metro

Posted on February 27, 2012

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Delhi metro is absolutely (without any doubt) the new lifeline of Delhi. It is the cheapest, fastest, most convenient (with lots of pinches of salt 🙂 ), cleanest mode of transport in Delhi. With phase 3 coming up by 2016 it should have a  pretty large swathe of Delhi covered.  With the daily ridership reaching close to two million , it is tough to imagine what would Delhi road traffic look like without the metro. The real estate prices have tripled if you are close to a metro station. And new townships have become full fledged cities because of metro. Look at Dwaraka sub-city. A once unknown almost jungle like area has now the best connecting facilities to Noida, Airport and Connaught Place through metro.

Well Delhi metro with its underground or overhead  stations and the trains itself , is a totally different world as compared to the Delhi city outside.This is where we start with the adventure section in the Delhi Metro mini-world after extolling about the virtues and great qualities of it.

Just before entering the Metro station we see Delhi at its filthiest with roadside beggars (as they are not allowed inside we see a huge bunch just at the entrance), people spitting galore creating red mountains with pan masala (as they are not allowed to spit inside), service lanes occupied by rickshaw -wallahs or people illegally parked and roadside hawkers (since not allowed inside). So just before entering the metro station people finish of their regular sins as if they are entering a temple totally reformed .

Then we come to the joke called security check where line jumping is regular norm and the security literally turns a blind eye to it.I need to ask the security guy (someday when I have some guts) who uses/monitors the metal-detector that for a gun or a knife does it make a special sound (or display gun,knife,bomb) because even if the metal-detector keeps screeching he just keeps pushing forward the people. While passing the bags through XRAY detectors either the cop monitoring is dozing or having his tea while chatting with his colleague. Only a couple of days a year they check seriously when they receive intelligence alerts or a bomb blast has happened somewhere. If they don’t pull up their socks this is a disaster waiting to happen (especially rajiv chowk, the most busiest station which has at least 2 lakh people everyday at any point of time)

Now we plan to enter through the card scanners or token receivers of which 30% are broken most of the time and the again we have convenient line jumpers there too. After going through them we proceed towards the platforms where the trains are supposed to arrive. But behold !,  there is a suspense waiting for us there. we don’t know if the incoming train is a 4 coach or a six coach. So as soon as we see the train coming and when people realize what number of coaches it has , they start running in the respective directions and we have chaos. The nicely formed lines at the respective coaches before the train arrives breaks right at the moment the door opens and thanks to our line jumpers people getting down are pushed along with them inside. Standing and following a line is one discipline which every Indian will never obey. It is inherent to us never to adhere to the principles of queue theory

Once we are in everybody hunts for a spot for standing (with their backs to rest and not their ass). Sitting is a distant dream which in my one year of metro travel I haven’t been able to achieve it even once. Once I decided to sit somewhere and I got such a nasty stare from some elderly aunties and gentlemen that I gave up sitting altogether. In my lucky days if the train is really crowded and the doors barely close you are stuck in  the ice freeze position ( zero movement and no scratching) till the next station arrives. You proceed towards your destination amongst the myriad of smells (perfume, hair oil, sweat, bad breath ) and sea of colors (turbans, duppattas and monkey caps). Amazingly Delhi metro is more comfortable during summers rather than winters since the air condition works really good. During winter you are already overdressed and the heater with the crowd creates the insides of the train more stuffy.

Also surprisingly the Delhi junta known for it’s notorious temper is surprisingly calm (maybe the AC is cooling their heads) and well disciplined in the metro. With no food allowed mostly the inside of the train is clean. Although no loud music and sitting on the floors is allowed , we have a few law breakers here and there (it ain’t India without them right!!). With most of the phones having MP3 and FM capabilities everybody is plugged into them through their earphones and nobody unusually wants to talk to the next person to the extent of avoiding somebody you know so that you can go through your playlist.

The funniest part is the phone conversations happening within the train. We as Indians have a quality where we want everyone else to hear what we are talking on the phone. I guess somehow we try to show off our importance through it. Young management graduates try to show off their selling power, insurance agents their bluffing power and techies their debugging power. You get to hear all of this at the largest possible volume with the frequent sequentially increasing “hello hello helloooo” as we pass through the omnipresent spotty coverage.

And then we finally come out through the same 30% working card scanners finally climbing through the last traces (steps/escalator)of cleanliness and civilization into the regular world of sinners and red pan masala mountains (archeologists while doing soil analysis after a 100 years will find unusually high concentration of this red poison everywhere 🙂 )

Delhi metro in it’s 10 years of history has surprisingly manged to keep itself clean and incident free (minor incidents here and there). Although recently its punctuality is taking a hit but still it is miles ahead of any other public transportation in India. I hope some of the good points are repeated in other cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad).

The fares are still too low and they should increase it more which will help them fund their expansion and they should create a first class coach (5 times the cost of regular fare)with all sitting  arrangement which will attract the so called high class population of Delhi who still prefer their cars . The pace of expansion is still slow as compared to worldwide , but in terms of Indian standard time they seem to be ahead 😉

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Posted in: Opinions