My Afterthoughts: Riding the Delhi Metro
True story by ecodecoarora
Originally posted elsewhere on 28 March 2012
After years of widespread disruption to daily commuters and tourists motoring on its roads, the city of New Delhi has finally welcomed the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. Phases I and II were completed just prior to the 2010 Commonwealth Games and, though the latter may still be rife with controversy, the DMRC, on the other hand, gleams like the crowning jewel of a transit system that sorely needed safe, affordable and comfortable transportation for the masses. The Delhi Metro is both cost-efficient and efficiently runs promptly, and its compartments are all air-conditioned which, for months in a calendar year is a heavenly (re)treat, but, above all, it is safe.
During my winter’s stay, this last point was of prime concern to me as often I traveled through the city by public transportation. In most cases I had to take a rickshaw or auto-rickshaw in order to arrive at or depart from a metro station because walking the city’s streets was precarious to say the least. In Delhi, despite its burgeoning population and urban sprawl, you would be hard-pressed to find adequate sidewalks for pedestrian use that would keep you out of harm’s way. On a daily basis, I faced problematic infrastructure issues, and in my mind created interim solutions that were sometimes evident, but sometimes also daunting.
Navigating the metro stations on the various lines proved a relatively smooth experience and after a few tries I got the swing of it — just like a local. The arrival of the Delhi Metro has created the need for a specifically important job: every day at each station an extensive anti-terrorist security regime is in place to monitor commuters filing through in separate queues, waiting to be frisked by security personnel while their personal belongings are electronically screened before being allowed to enter through the turnstiles onto the platforms. Day after day, I was amazed at how obedient all travellers from all denominations were to this routine necessity in the good name of safety and civility. In this democracy, organizing the masses is indeed possible.
A greater proportion of overall riders are male and travel in hoards in compartments reserved just for them, while occasionally heterosexual couples stand or sit together. This was reassuring to me on the oft chance I was not able to reach the smartly designated women’s compartment at the head of the metro platform. I truly commend the DMRC for implementing this ‘Ladies Only’ feature as more and more female commuters have entered the workforce, often traveling solo to and fro work at all hours of the day. I never saw any lewd or lonely men wandering in there, and believe that if caught by station controllers, they’d be reprimanded, while acts deemed inappropriate would be punishable with a fine.
Most of the time my commuting was easy-peasy. It was only during rush hour that I was usually unable to secure a seat and having to huddle with passengers, much like human cattle. Riding the Delhi Metro, however, is an efficient way to avoid vehicular traffic, hoards of people, in general, excessive noise and rampant dust pollution in the open air and on the maddening streets at ground level below. It is especially ideal if the desired plan is to reduce travel time and chance of headache in going from points A to B.
The DMRC and its commuters, together, are in an essential relationship as the former ensures a smooth and safe travel service across major cross-points, while the latter enjoys and respects this blessed innovation that is facilitating their lives and existing usefully in their nation’s capital. It is also a really fun way to aerially view the city metamorphosizing from one station to the next: catching glimpses of residential rooftop gardens, silhouetted temples, out-of-home billboards, national landmarks, scurries of people at open-air markets, all appearing closer than they are! Bring your camera and hop on the Delhi Metro. So many destinations to be discovered and explored.