The Everyday Mini Victory – The Odd Case of the Delhi Metro

You’ve had a long, day at work. It’s time to go home. At Last! You’re going to board the metro from Huda City Center and an hour later, you’ll get off at your destination. Since you’ve already been doing this every single day since the past 3 years, you know exactly how that hour is going to pass.

You get to the metro station and get in line to enter. The line is slowed down by lousy people with tokens standing in a queue with clear indications that it’s specifically for smart card holders. You assist a couple of them, while cursing under your breath and finally get to the platform to wait for your train. Must be your lucky day because you’re first in line. By this time a guy comes up to you and asks “bhaiya naveda jayegi naveda?”
“Nahi bhaiya, dusri side”.

Another one comes along to ask you if you know what the time is, and then continues to talk on his smartphone. Within the 120 seconds you waited for the metro to arrive, you have been pushed back from first in queue, to fourth, in a parallel queue that’s not supposed to exist.

Anyway, amidst the pushing, cursing, all your energy is converged on the meaningful “chalo bhaiya chalo” even before the gates have opened for you to board and the  “arre bhaiya nikalne toh do” as soon as the gates open. You get on board and find a corner to stand, plugging in your earphones, hoping to find some peace.

delhi-metro-line

You start browsing through Facebook, trying to see what your friends have been up to. But the uncle standing next to you seems more interested in them than you are. He keeps peeping, and when he realises that you’ve noticed him, well, he does nothing and continues staring at your phone. You decide to ignore it for a bit but eventually just tuck your phone right back in your pocket.

The gods must be with you because a person vacated his seat and you won the butt-race to it and settled down. You feel victorious until a man comes and nips his butt almost in your face and says “bhaiya thoda adjust kar lo”. Ok, you adjust. It’s a little tight but you manage. Then that man starts dancing his butt into the seat and you have practically no place to sit. You’re tired, have a long journey ahead so you keep quiet. Then the man calls his 3 buddies to come sit with him and you say goodbye to the seat.

As you stand with your nose slapped against a man’s arm-pit, here are other things you’re bound to experience and see:

The floor junctions between two bogies are being used as seats for 6 people. One of these will always play Honey Singh music on loud speaker, and another will watch a movie on his/her phone again on loud speaker. Other two will be staring into this unknown guy’s phone. The other two will be engineering students, hoping to find a purpose in life.

You’ll also find a girl, cursing the guy sitting on the ladies seat but she’ll conveniently continue “reading” as she sits on the seat reserved for the elderly and an old man stands right in front of her. “Oh please sit, I didn’t see you only” she would say as she got up and got off at her station.

There will always be 2-3 creeps standing right next to the ladies coach. Staring into the coach as if an India-Pakistan match was being broadcast, he seems like someone who had bet his life savings on it.

Wearing a pair of flip flops on your journey in the metro? Wrong decision. Very very wrong. Your feet will be numb with pain by the time you get off. That is, if the incoming crowd of hooligans let you get off at your desired station.

Also during your journey, you’ll hear 5 words that would’ve been perfect in Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech. These 5 words are enough motivation for the metro crowd to turn into Spartans. Wars can start because of these. Men gain supernatural strength upon hearing these 5 words.

“Agla station Rajiv Chowk Hai”

Believe me, these words are enough to prepare men for a war. There are strategies at play. Strategies of how to get out of the train quickly. Strategies of who’s going to vacate their seats so that others can grab it. There’s pressure from behind. Literally. And there’s a spectacular encounter as soon as the entering and exiting parties meet.

You’ll also see people carrying their personal seats in form of sacks of clothes or suitcases. These they’ll place right in the middle of the coach, without giving 2 shits about how much unnecessary space they’re occupying.

If your route requires you to switch trains at Rajiv Chowk, you’ll also get to witness a daily practice of the Delhi half marathon. People running to catch the next train as if it’s going to be the last train that saves humanity. You’ll also see couples sitting in the middle of the stairs, just chit chatting. A dude trying to show off by sliding down the rails (and failing) instead of taking the stairs. Also, a whole bunch of people who just keep getting on the wrong platform.

Slowly, but surely, your journey comes to an end. Like a soldier returning home after war, you disembark from the metro, exit the station, probably get something to drink, look forward to the comfort of your well made bed, and dread tomorrow, as you face the same stagnant life again and again.

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