Saturday, January 8, 2011

Smog and the Metro

The metro connects us pretty well from Hauz Khaz to Visvavidhalaya or Delhi University. What is precluded is the daily fight with the auto driver, over fares,  his stopping to fill gas when one is already late, driving with one hand on the handlebar,  throwing slighting comments to the passenger and risking the lives of all in the path of the driver. And ofcourse taking long detours and driving against the flow of traffic, to avoid a long uturn. Most days autos are just fine, one feels the wind in one's hair, and the driver is happy with his job, and sometimes he plays loud music, which he will turn off if you request  him.

But the metro! The metro is everyone's dream. In Paris, the metro is so old, that  it is filigreed with time, and the stations have art works. Public display of art is routinised with Parisians, they don't fear graffiti, the surveillance is so heavy. Here, college students chat and study, others fall into meditative silence, and no one notices that we are in the intestines of the earth. Meticulous, beautiful and calm. We have not yet developed a history of "incidents" as they call it in Paris. Good behaviour lasted about four years, now there is a women's compartment because Delhi males feel that on their way to Kurukshetra they can manhandle any number of women young or old. So the state has divided up the compartments, so there is one for women, and many for men. As soon as they see a woman, the men usher the women along avuncularly, saying You will get a seat in the lady's compartment. The women's compartment gets jam packed with women with parcels and shopping, and sometimes little boys who figure out they are different, and start bawling or boxing. Still the metro is heaven, away from the winter smog, and the continuous display of metal and machismo on the traffic jammed Delhi roads. The workers who built this gleaming metro, underfed though they were did not have their hands chopped off, and hopefully found work again.

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