My Afterthoughts: Riding the Delhi Metro

After countless years of widespread disruption to the daily commute of residents and tourists motoring on its roads, the city of Delhi has finally welcomed the DMRC-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 cost-efficient and runs promptly, its compartments are air-conditioned (which for months in a calendar year is a heavenly (re)treat), and it is safe. During my winter’s stay, this last point was of concern to me as I often traveled by public transportation. In most cases I did have to take a rickshaw or an auto-rickshaw in order to arrive at or depart from a metro station because walking on the city’s streets had proven precarious. In Delhi, despite its burgeoning population, you would be hard-pressed to find adequate sidewalks for pedestrian use that will keep you out of harm’s way. On a daily basis, I faced problematic infrastructure issues, and in my head would create interim solutions that were sometimes evident, but sometimes daunting.

Outside honkers, pissers, spittters are found but inside the Metro some bad habits die hard.

Navigating the metro station is relatively smooth and after a few uses, you can get the swing of it. In the nation’s capital, the Delhi Metro has created jobs as every day at every station an extensive anti-terrorist security regime is in place to monitor commuters as they file through in separate queues to be frisked by security personnel while their personal belongings are electronically screened before entering the turnstiles onto the platforms. I was amazed at how civilly obedient all travelers from all denominations had become to this routine necessity in the name of safety. Organizing the masses in this democracy is indeed possible.

Noticeably, a greater proportion of riders are male and travel in hoards in compartments reserved 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. I commend the DMRC for implementing this ‘Ladies Only’ feature as more female commuters are in the workforce, often traveling solo to and fro work at all hours of the day. From my experience, I never saw any men wandering in here and believe that if caught by station controllers would be reprimanded while other inappropriate acts would be punishable with a fine.

The Delhi Metro is democratically enjoyed by commuters both young and old, modern and traditional.

Most of the time commuting was easy-peasy. Only during rush hour was I usually not able to secure a seat and had to huddle with other passengers, like human cattle. Riding the Delhi Metro is an efficient way to avoid vehicular traffic, people, noise, and dust pollution on the maddening streets below—especially if you want your travel time from point A to point B reduced.

(Top l): Natasha ARORA attempts to snap wall art inside the Delhi Metro but gets caught by station controller; (Top r): Indian man in traditional Indian wear going about his day; (Bottom): Natasha ARORA in Happy Socks!

State-of-the-art technology meets charm meets commerce on the Delhi Metro.

The DMRC and its commuters are in an essential relationship as the former ensures a smooth and safe travel service throughout the urban sprawl’s major cross-points, while the latter enjoys and respects this blessed innovation for facilitating their lives and existing usefully in their City. It is also a fun way to aerially view the city as it metamorphosizes from station to station: residential rooftop gardens, silhouetted temples, out-of-home (OOH) billboards, national landmarks, scurries of people at open-air markets, all appear closer than they are. Bring your camera and hop on the Delhi Metro. It too is a destination to be explored.

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