This one describes the average journey on the Delhi Metro.
Please don’t mind if you are unable to relate to it. An average Indian, however, would probably relate to the unruly crowd, and the hassle of availing public transport.
So you climb up the never-ending staircase, because the escalator doesn’t work, checking your wallet for your metro-card, because otherwise you’ll have to spend around Five days in the line to buy a token.
You impatiently queue (I like how the word has a repitition of ‘ue’, I wonder whether there are more words like this) to cross the metal detector (which I don’t see as having any useful purpose), to get groped by the moustached policeman with his belly sticking out.
He pats you down, then wave his hand to tell you that you don’t seem to have a bomb, while you wait for your bag to come out of the check.
And then comes the ‘whooshing’ noise of the arriving Metro as you begin to climb up the stairs.
Suddenly (I read somewhere that writers aren’t supposed to use this word but I want to emphasise on the suddenness), a throng of around 30 people, materialising out of nowhere sprint up to the platform, giving Mr. Bolt a run for his money (never mind the pun) only to discover that the arrival is of the train on the opposite platform, and they have burnt an extra calorie (or two) for nothing.
The sign saying three minutes to the next train seems to be rigged. Surely, 180 seconds isn’t that long? The fellow to-be-boarders swell in numbers, more and more zombies walk around with earphones staring blankly into their mobile devices.
The metro arrives and everyone (earphones or not) suddenly rushes across the safe line to meet it, perhaps they can stop it early by being an inch or so away from it.
And the doors open. And of course, you get swept in with the crowd, when people insist on entering the overstuffed coach before letting those who want to exit exit. Before you know it, you are inside, the platform’s empty, the open doors are your only source of oxygen because the air from the vents gets respired by the billion people stuffed inside the coach in around half a second and all you can smell is sweat.
Then there’s this moustached man running up the stairs to enter before the doors close but the driver always shuts the gates off a second before he enters. (I wonder if he plays the game as a source of entertainment).
Then you search the metro for empty seats, perhaps some haven’t been reserved for old people/disabled/women/SC/ST/OBC/Some-new-category-they-invented, only for nought.
Accepting your fate of standing for the remaining journey, you thank the gods that you don’t have to pass through Rajiv Chowk (or curse them if you have to).
Someone asks you where you are going. They tap and whisper “Patel Nagar?” You shake your head, letting them aside and watch them do the same with the next person as they arrive at the door long before they open.
The train stops and someone else behind you realises that they have to get off at Patel Nagar too, and they barge you aside and rush to the door, playing a light game of ‘lets push the otherside back’ with the boarders.
Finally, your station arrives and you hear a cool female voice saying, “The Next station is. Karol. Bagh. The doors. will open. on the. left. Please. mind. the gap.”
And you step away from hell, give your condolensces to those getting off at Rajiv Chowk, haggle with the rickshawallahs and cringe at the five missed calls from Ma which you never realised came.
1. The title has been borrowed from the eponymous Bollywood film.
2. Rajiv Chowk – The central station- all different routes meet here, hence it’s always overcrowded.
3. Karol Bagh/Patel Nagar- Arbitrary Stations.