Saturday, 25 June 2011

A Day in the life of METRO


First of all, a disclaimer, this post is in no way related to the Bollywood movie of the same name. This one concentrates on one of the most favorite mode of transportation for millions of "Kolkatans", THE METRO RAILWAYS.... I would say they are an answer to all our transport woes, well not to all, but most certainly to some important ones... but hold on before you move away from the page, I am not about to chronicle Metro Railway's history... this is more about my personal observations about people's behavior, especially the females, since I proudly belong to that community and without any failure, always occupy the seats reserved for our "species".

For a certain gentleman, who is residing in the US at present, and has little idea about the present state of Metro Railways, and for all those respectfully ignorant souls who do not know what a gift and a curse Metro Railways is to the "Kolkatans", you guys first need to know some basic facts about the Kolkata Metro...

No the Kolkata Metro is not the same "patalraail" that Bengalis are so proud of, it's a sky walk now, zooming from one end of the City of Joy to the other... and no it's not Air Conditioned, so we Kolkatans do occasionally suffer tremendous hardship, heat and humidity in our course of the journey, but then again, we had a communist rule for 34 years in the same state, so no one's complaining!!!!! The other important fact worth knowing is that there are two rows of seats reserved for the fairer sex, as much as we would like to talk about equality, this is one of the things we are grateful to the Metro authorities for... I, on the behalf of my species, acknowledge that life would have been much tougher hadn't it been for that "Ladies seat" ....

Let's now begin with a day's journey in the Kolkata Metro as observed yours faithfully...

My tryst with the Metro begins everyday at 8:30 am when I punch in my paper ticket, into a machine, that is generally well known for it's mood swings, when it's in a good mood, people have a wonderful life, everyone is happy sliding their ticket from one end and getting it back from the other, and when our "dear ticket puncher" is in a bad mood, everyone from the commuters to the authorities have a really sad time, no amount of coaxing, caressing or cursing works... so this is the first thing to be noted, a "mood swinging ticket puncher".... then there's the elevator... ok my Metro station boasts of both options, manual and mechanic, meaning there's both an elevator to take you upstairs or one can use the stairs, needless to say most human beings with an ordinary amount of common sense would think, "who wants to take the stairs when there's an elevator????? "

My dear brothers and sisters, this is where you have misjudged the Kolkata Metro, here the speed of the elevator is actually less than your's if u decide o take the stairs... so being the quintessential late comer that I am , I have to run up the flight of stairs.. on some days, when Karma decides to reward me for my good deeds, I am on time, meaning, I am atleast 16 minutes early for the Metro, and on those rare days, I actually use the elevator... it's really a nice experience, being on a machine that's actually slower than you are... it makes one proud of the human race!!!

Oh!! another thing, the Metro stations of Kolkata, after Ravindra Sarovar, believe in natural cooling meaning there are no ACs again, which is a tad problematic considering Kolkata's weather, where there is very little scope for a "cool weather".... so every man, woman or child u meet in these stations, craving to embark on a journey would mostly be heaving and blotting away 'natural moisture' from their faces, arms, necks with a towel or a large handkerchief and often complaining about the city's weather.

I have a set group of 5 friends who I travel with, two of them are my colleagues and our favorite discussion is how The Times of India is making us slave for them. For the past three months, we have been making brilliant plans for our lives away from the TOI office, but sadly till date none of them have come remotely true, and friends, the optimists that we are, we will continue making the same plan in the coming months without any improvement in the status quo.... among the other two, one works for the Indian Oil Corporation and has amazing pair of earrings and the other dislikes us big time... her point of dislike is aimed at our mobiles, which she considers flashy and an utter waste of hard earned money, I have often spotted her discussing in low tones with the other female, and she generally shuts up when encountered by any one of us. I have a general belief that she talks about us, but then again she might not.

We ( the three of us i.e..) generally try taking the 8:33 am train, and the simple reason behind this, is that while getting on and getting off at our respective Metro Stations, we can be less barbaric and more humane, as every Metro commuter, worth his salt knows, THE KOLKATA METRO HAS THE ABILITY TO BRING OUT THE BEAST IN YOU, THE ONE WHO GETS TO SIT, SURVIVES, AND THE ONE WHO SURVIVES, GETS TO LIVE ANOTHER DAY!!!!!!
So while boarding on and boarding off the Metro between the hrs 8:15 am to 10:30 am and between the hrs 5:15 pm to 8:15 pm, the beast in every metro commuter comes out at it's best.

A very dear friend of mine, has evolved a very noble solution to winning this ongoing war. He carries along with him a really long umbrella, no matter what the weather, it's main purpose is to poke his metro compatriots, so as to enable him to get a seat, a ride in the Metro is just not a ride my friends, it's a WAR!!...

But, despite all the woes chronicled here, my life would have been unbearable had it not been for the Metro Railways. Come winter, summer, autumn or the rains, it is one mode of transport which carries me back and forth, every morning to my work and back to the people I love... It's a life saver for me, nay, for all of us. For all my complaints and sarcasm, this everyday journey will remain one of the most beautiful part of my life.