It's been more than four years now that I've been travelling by the metro trains in Delhi almost every day. Back during my previous college days (oh how much I miss you!) when I was more fun because I had more fun and everything was more fun, I had a lot of experiences to share and I did those in my Metro Diaries 1,2 and 3. Then life changed gears and the past one year I took the opposite route in the metro. It was still the metro but it wasn't much fun because first, it was a relatively less-crowded route and two, it just wasn't fun. Hopefully seeing how I had a dearth of metro experiences to share with awesome readers over here, God made my college shift to the original, proper campus and yay! I had that old route back, the one with far more interesting and many people than before, one where I had at least 45 minutes of metro travel one way! Not that I love standing squished among people I don't even know, but it does give me a lot to see, right? Considering how I love people-watching, trying to understand what their stories might be, it's a lot more fun. And unlike before I get to travel with a few classmate-friends, so sometimes there's even more masala to observe. ;)
So when my not-so-enthusiastic-except-for-metro-and-interesting-campus second year started, there was this one time when I was coming back home with only one more classmate-friend for company, a friend who takes some other route, so essentially for the metro ride, I was solo. This route is almost the double of the one in my previous college and also includes changing lines and well, you guys know me. :P Reaching the platforms, the friend asked me which route would take her to the right station. Naturally, I felt so bond-like while spying on the map, looking for her station. Having found that, I directed her to the right line, said an enthusiastic goodbye and started going in the other direction. She looked confused and asked me if we were going the right way. 'Of course!' I said, pointing out her station at the map. That is where you go! 'And', I said pointing my thumb to the opposite platform, 'that's my route'. Still looking uncertain, she went off and I took the other train, feeling all contented. After all, how many times did people ask me for metro advice? Almost everyone knows how I'm so clueless about metro routes. So much that it's slightly insulting. :|
I was feeling kind of 'free', especially since I was riding solo. Not that I don't like company, but I feel more at peace alone. And so I immersed myself in my awesome thoughts and time started rolling. A couple stations passed and with a jolt, I heard that recorded female telling me I'm reaching a station I was sure I hadn't been to the past week! Yes, I'm usually lost but I do recall the names of stations we pass through! Trying to look nonchalant, because rule number one when you get lost is don't look like you're lost, I scanned the map and saw how wonderful a friend I am for sending her to the right route, and not looking for my own station, assuming obviously I'll take the other route (but why?? Why did I make such an assumption? o.O ) when the fact of the matter was that my station was also on the same route. -_- I thought I'd always check the route after that but you know when you're with the rest, you just assume you're going in the right direction and so you don't get to know if you know the route unless you travel solo again.
|Pic courtesy: Google and a previous Metro Diaries post :P|
Anyway, moving on, in the crowd-management department, things are still the same like before, although if I talk about the women-only compartment, I can put on a safe bet that it has become absolutely worse. Not that people are becoming crazier, but I personally believe if so many females in varying degrees of distress (what else?) and mood swings are stuck together, there is bound to be something like a lava popping out of a volcano every now and then. Most of the time it's entertaining to watch and since I'm awesome at being inconspicuous and keeping out of others' way, I can think of incidents to write about from a relatively safe distance. I have to admit though, that women in the first compartment can be arrogant, heartless and sometimes downright cruel. You think you want a seat? You think you can make any lady who's parked her butt on a seat make some 'space' for you? You gotta take a reality-check-medicine! I think after their boisterous and always-bouncing-in-the-train kids, women love their seats the most. The first coach is definitely better in the mornings as compared to the general ones in terms of what kind of smells your nose has to deal with in a crowd, because no offence, but the general ones are too suffocating just because some people don't seem to like perfumes. But at the same time, it is far easier to move around in a general coach than the first one.
Because when you're a bunch of early twenties people (hey, I'm the youngest *coolest expression*) and you board the train from different stations, it's not that you always seem to have those cool mind-connections like you have with some best friends, so you take some time moving around and gathering at one place. If you have to move in a general coach, you just have to mouth innumerable 'Excuse Me's and people would shift to make space for you to pass. I noticed a difference once while I was moving from the general one to the first coach. Those guys make way for you to pass once you start walking, sometimes you don't even need to say Excuse Me. As soon as I entered the first coach and said my first Excuse Me, I realized women are just... women. I don't know if it's because there are no guys around or what, but you just ask them to shift and you get a look that can kill. It's as if you're asking them for ransom or something. They wouldn't-just-move! Most of them would have those irritating headphones blaring cheap Bollywood songs in their ears and so they can't even hear your polite Excuse Mes. You try to nudge them and make your own way and jeez! Just pray you don't bump into a walking-talking-firecracker. The other day a commotion started in a crowded metro, some place where I with my average height couldn't even see, between two women. One of them was accusing the other of deliberately sticking and leaning on to her. o.O For Heaven's sake, it was so full that you couldn't even place both your feet together! Although if you find someone who, despite being over-super-closely stuck with random women, looks amused as she's being jostled from place to place or merely having her upper body oscillate to and fro as the train stops and moves, that would be me. I think if we can't escape it, why not enjoy it? ;)
And that's where a recent, most-mention-worthy incident comes into picture. I was once again traveling solo, now completely at ease with the route. I'm not really that dense, you know. One month of the same route does leave an impression and so my brain knows where it's taking me. Anyway, as I reached the holy mother of all stations where you get a real glimpse of the reproduction capabilities of Delhites (err.. I mean you get to see so many people, like so so so many people, the burgeoning population :P), I tried making myself as small and thin as possible to be able to reach the relative safety of the first coach. The platform wasn't very crowded that day. As I slowed down to stand in line, I caught sight of a familiar looking girl looking curiously at me, with that slightly squnity, uncertain expression as if she's trying to recognize me and as we stood looking at each other, we broke into smiles as I recognized her as my childhood schoolmate! I mean, we saw each other after *calculates on fingers* eight years! Whoa! :D The train arrived and I moved into line with her. She got on the train first. I followed. Just that I didn't really follow like normal people do.
While I was stepping into the coach, I felt my right slipper slipping, but like the lost case I am, I didn't even bother. And the result being I realized I was right-foot-barefoot when I fully stepped onto the train. Turning around, looking for the lost slipper (how genius-ly did they name slipper a 'slipper' -_- ) on the platform didn't have any positive effect and within seconds as my heart jumped to my throat in a familiar 'uh oh', I realized my slipper had slipped from the gap and into the tracks! I stood there dumbstruck and then started looking for my new-found-after-8-years friend, who hadn't yet witnessed my Cinderella story and was standing at a distance! I called out to her, more like beckoned to her and told her what had happened. Through actions! I mean! I was standing inside the train with one slipper with a thousand ladies looking on and I didn't even know where the other one went! The friend was even more shocked than I was and just stood there staring at me like I was some hugely interesting item! Then the doors clicked closed and the lady standing by them said to me, "You know, if you had got down and asked the guard, he could have took it out and you could have taken the next train."
I sometimes don't understand how can some women be such geniuses. Was she watching my Cinderella moment with interest to blog about it? I mean yes, even at that moment my heart said 'blog it!' but of course my head was more concerned about my present state. And my friend wasn't helping either. So now as we stood there, my friend looking at me so shocked as if she'd done something to me herself and I in my new fashion-trend-setter mode, one slipper on and one foot barefoot, I felt this gush of some funny emotion. I realized how it's not really that bad. I mean, what could be worse? I'd have lost both of them? Many people go barefoot. No, not in trains exactly, that would be a first, but still. People would look, they might laugh but that'd be it. And so I felt so amused about my own klutziness and the way some of them stared at me like I was so amusing to watch (well, I must have been. How many times do you see a girl in a train with one slipper on and the other missing?). The other time I spent trying to make my friend feel relaxed, consoling her that I'm actually okay and kind of used to such stuff. And that I'd actually have something fun to write about! :P It felt weirdly fun as I hopped out of the coach at my station and held my head up and walked down the stairs. Okay, I did see where I'm walking because stepping on gross stuff barefoot would have been hugely unpleasant and a deterrent to my awesome mood. But anyway, I had asked my dad to come take me! :P
I couldn't have really been that Bond-like and walked all the way to the parking to get Scoot, like that. And that lane is cluttered with gross stuff that gets even more gross during rains. Yuck. So when like dad suggested (because really, it wouldn't have even crossed my awesome mind otherwise), I took the elevator and went downstairs where my dad just started laughing. Right there sitting on his scooter looking at me walking like that. I mean, seriously. What's up with parents these days?
So now that I usually have my friends with me, we do have our own share of metro-fun. We're civilized, all right, just that we get so engrossed in our own talks that sometimes the whole coach could take a learning or two about the stock market fluctuations or learn the verb conjugations in Spanish. Excluding me, people really have loudspeakers installed in their throats. There are numerous fun-instances like the one time it was just us, three girls and while at the station watching a train roll in, we suddenly decided we'd be taking this one. I thought it was ridiculous because we were a million miles away from the train then, but the other two just said, 'Run!' and took off and so naturally I had to follow. Dodging people, skitting across the floor trying not to bump into random bouncy stomachs (ew. That even sounds so ew. I've become so ew!), we actually managed to get inside the train, that too in the first compartment! That was when we were so tired that we flopped down on the floor itself (yeah, it's not allowed but where are you supposed to place three tired-from-running young girls who've got a long way to go?) and that was also the day we realized how huge the world might seem to a tiny animal or creature. Because you know, people do look absolutely weird and big from that angle. And then when some loser girls came in suddenly with a crowd and talked to us in a mean voice for we were sitting (till then the coach was empty. It was not yet full with that mean girl and her baraat, because we don't really take up space if there's anyway a space crunch), we had a non-verbal haughty conversation with her. And then when we saw she'll get down at the same station as one of my friends, we coached her as to how she should walk out, making sure to bump into that mean girl and then run off! :P Brave girl actually did that! ;)
It's good to be back, talking about metro stories! There have been a lot many instances and it's always fun. I mean, how over optimistic can I be? I can find something amusing even in a suffocating metro! I can be so heartless sometimes. I'm glad to be back. You think so? Should I continue this series? ;)