As I made my way back home at peak office hours in the crowded Delhi Metro the other day, packed like a sardine among other women sardines (yes, I was in the women’s compartment where being a sardine is less smelly and far more acceptable), I was struck for the thousandth time by how much life had changed in the city since the Metro arrived.
Just for the record, the Delhi Metro had a ridership of 459.5 million passenger rides per year in 2010-2011 as per Wikipedia, and is 24th most ridden mass rapid transit system in the world!
To me, like it must have for many others, the Delhi Metro’s extension to Gurgaon gave back to me the pleasure of using public transport. I no longer feel constantly guilty about adding hogging road space or about spending the equivalent of a poor family’s weekly expenses on a single day’s fuel! Even more valuable is the sense of freedom and a sense of better connection with the urban environment I live in.
I agree, the Delhi Metro is unaffordable to the poorest sections of society, but is still quite diverse in the type of people it ferries around. On the yellow line that I take, I see many college kids, pre-occupied with texting on their mobile phones and yapping nineteen to the dozen! I see office goers galore, looking purposeful, reading, listening to music and snoozing if they are lucky enough to have a seat. I see workmen carrying tools around, runner boys checking their watches every few moments and sometimes lying to their bosses about where they’ve reached (oh, the joys of mobile telephony!); the elderly returning from a visit to a long-lost friend and kitty party returnees looking pleased as punch! Children, wide-eyed and bouncing on mothers’ laps, thoroughly enjoy the Metro too.
The Metro ride helps me retain a sense of normalcy. I feel like I’m like everyone else. In a strange sense, there is also a sense of camaraderie in riding the Metro together. Exchanged glances, smiles and even an occasional conversation with a stranger can reinforce a general faith in humanity that we seem to be losing as our lives get busier, more technology-driven, more protected. The Metro is my ticket to reality and on most days it gives me no cause to complain at all! The autos when I get off at Gurgaon’s HUDA City center…now they are a whole new story :)