Metro Railway systems are totally not a typical Indian thing. Our trains have always been big, giant, diesel guzzling, steel and iron behemoths. Our railway tracks – part time pooping grounds and our platforms – aways full of shit, spit and grit. Its dirty because there’s so many of us. We don’t have enough time or money or resources for the aesthetics of public systems. When we can pee in the tracks without an issue… we pee in the tracks. Because public toilets when not absolutely non-existent are either paid or live UTI cultures but oft times both.
So, the Delhi Metro is not the typical Indian thing I understand, but its still something we can love, right? I love it. The system is easily the best thing about Delhi! The fares are down right cheap and the services reasonably awesome. From a (lucky) upper middle class individual’s point of view the system offers a multitude of sociological exposures that could otherwise, definitely not have happened. But I sometimes wonder if thats really a great thing…
I recall, it was a sunday afternoon. There wasn’t a lot of people in the train. I sat in a corner fiddling with a pair of earphones that had got all tangled into a lump. A middle aged woman clad in a green and red sari sat with her three children on the other side. Her tiny body looked drained and over worked. She was obviously poor. Her heels had deep black furrows that curved on into the soles of her feet in disturbingly long lines. And she smelled of sweat; even from a distance. The little girl with her had fresh, greasy snot on parts of her face. She was probably sick with the flu, I thought and then cringed. The younger of the two boys with her was being very uneasy. He was obviously struggling with a strong urge to pee. When he could no longer hold it in no matter how hard he tried, he told her – it was an emergency and something had to be done. So what do these wonderful people decide? – It was time to pee – right in the seat. The lady stood up, holding the kid by the arm pits, to give support, and allowed his bladder some much needed relief. As the yellow puddle grew in size it reached the edges of the seat and slowly began to overflow, down onto the floor. The urine ran in thin lines all about that forsaken compartment, meandering right around unsuspecting passenger’s feet. I was so shocked, I deboarded at the next stop.
Then this other day, I hadn’t had much sleep the night before so I was trying to sleep in the train. There was a crowd but that wasn’t deterring me. I haven’t always been good at sleeping in a seated position, but it was that part of my life when I was getting good at it. In fact I was doing considerably well that day before the women sitting on the seats facing mine began quarrelling pretty seriously. The smug faced, seemingly dull lady in her 60s and her strict and dissed-looking, middle-aged, dictator companion were failing to keep there volumes and well… crazy, angry rage under check. It was all under control… sort of but then the older woman started to stand up, shaking her head in disagreement. The other woman however was definitely not have any of it. She pulled her right down by the wrist and before you knew it she had SLAPPED the poor aunty, smack across the face! Thats when everything (except for the train of course) stopped short of everything else. On the other side of the compartment, people started peering at them, like meerkats! One head popping up behind the other. Then someone spoke.
It was a simple-looking, young college girl but she looked really displeased. She told the woman who had just delivered the blow about how she had no right to hit the poor lady like that. The old lady sat hunched, her head sunken to the level of her shoulders while this young girl reminded the “dictator” about respecting elder people. But it only got so far. The dictator snubbed her right there and told her to mind her own business, if she didn’t want a piece of that same slap herself. She told her to shut up because she didn’t know anything about how difficult it was to deal with this old lady who had gone all crazy in the head. So she told her to shut up once again. Again there was silence. The poor old girl was shaken, she had obviously been attacked and duelled to the ground. In trying to deal with the shock she rolled her eyes as she murmured something about her higher moral ground, to salvage some dignity.
Metro Rails – I Tell You!