Sunday, January 15, 2012

Life on a Metro

You get up at 8 am, skip the shower, skip breakfast, skip the socks, skip the belt, skip, jump and run to the nearest bus stop. Your metro feeder bus, as usual, is almost halfway on its way, when you just about manage to run and leap inside. Shut up! There are no seats available during rush hour. The bus stops at every red light, it also stops at green and yellow lights, waiting for them to turn red, and then wait for another two minutes at the red. This way, they can fit in a few other 'I'm freakin' late again'.
Finally the trolley arrives at the metro station. Uttam-Nagar west is not a place where you'd want to be early in the morning. In fact, the stink ensures that it's not a place where you'd want to be at any time during the day. But then, getting of the metro cauldron feeder-bus is a relief in itself.

Uttam Nagar West, checking in:  You find yourself at the back of a serpentine queue, waiting to get yourself frisked by the CISF guards. The queue moves briskly. In the meantime, you look and smirk at the people waiting to purchase tokens at the ticket counter. You feel your metro card in your front pocket and get a sense of fake superiority complex. While the guard superficially frisks you, you sneak-peek at the ladies' frisking booth and fantasise getting checked and touched by the female constable.
Like every day, you forget to put your knapsack in the x-ray machine. Like everyday, you go back and shove it up the carousel. Like everyday, you punch your card on the entry gate. Like everyday, you discover that it has a negative 'balance'. And just like everyday, you have to go through the above routine all over again.

Uttam Nagar West, platform scene: The elevators seldom carries people your age, and yet again you have to climb the stairs to reach the platform. The waiting time is, again, 5 minutes. You curse the train frequency, the DMRC, the train driver, the station housekeeper,your boss, his wife, your wife and your mother-in-law. The timer still shows 4 minutes as the train swiftly arrives at the platform. It honks the moment it passes you, and you almost fall off your feet. You curse the driver, the DMRC, your boss, his wife, your wife, your mother-in-law all over again.
You choose a door, run with it till the train stops, jostle with fellow train-boarders, run over hapless deboarders, fight the poles insides the train just to get a place to stand near one of the seat columns. Shut up! There are no seats available during rush hour. You lay down your knapsack, sandwich it between your feet, rest against the pole, and wait. The train starts. You are almost knocked off your feet, again. You curse Newton, the train driver, your boss, his wife, your wife and your mother-in-law.

Uttam-Nagar East: 2 minutes into the journey, and no freakin' soul has got off. You stare at the gentlemen resting their rearside on the steel seats. You curse your luck, your boss,...

Janakpuri West: You see the Hilton Hotel in the backdrop and your mind digresses to Paris Hilton. You laugh at her, rather loudly, and get 'he's a weirdo' look from fellow passengers. You become conscious, and pause. As the train starts, you see the District Centre and then at your worn out jeans, your old trousers, your dirty jacket, and look back at the District Centre again. Then you look down at your shoes again and keep looking that way.

Janakpuri East: None of the passengers have vacated their seats. Fuck you all, you say, and go back to staring at your feet.

Tilak Nagar: You look at your clothing again then at the famous Tilak Nagar market. That's my place, you say. You hold your head high and promise to yourself to stop by this place on your way back home.

Subhash Nagar: Pacific Mall! You become nostalgic and remember the good old days; the movies, the food, the pool, the bowling, the break-up... Oh all of a sudden your shoes become interesting again.

Tagore Garden: The freakin' old man has waited for the train to stop and the doors to open before vacating his seat. You say something bad to his mother and sister, but then again, the metal rubbing against your bum during the rush hour is worth the wait.

Rajouri Garden: Malls and maals. That's how you remember this place. You turn back to see the pretty faces who have boarded to metro from here. You think-out-aloud the cliche joke '99% of the women are pretty. The rest are in my college.' You then replace the world 'college' with 'colony', reiterate the joke, and laugh again. 'He's a weirdo' says the look on the faces of people around you.

Ramesh Nagar to Kirti Nagar: You again start looking down as 50 year old ladies and 60 year old gentlemen are standing in front of your seat, gazing at you expectedly, hoping that you'd offer your seat. But you're there for the long haul, and just to make your intentions clear, you take out the copy of last Monday's Times of India, and bury your head in it.

Shadipur: You take a moment out of your engrossing activity of staring blankly at the Anushka Sharma photograph in the paper, curse your marriage, you wife, your mother-in-law and go back to Anushka.

Patel Nagar to Rajendra Place: You exercise the corners of your eyes by staring at the cellphone of the girl sitting beside you. She's a pro, and obscures your vision by putting her forearm in the way. You mutter something bad to her and take out your own phone and find three missed calls from 'home' You put the phone back where it came from.

Karol Bagh: You remember the Sari that you promised to gift your wife for your Wedding Anniversary last-to-last year. You set a reminder on your phone titled 'Wedding Anniversary', but cancel it because you don't quite remember if it was the 3rd or the 13th of August. Or was it July?

Jhandewalan: Looking up for the first time, you half get up from your seat to see the enormous Hanuman statue. As always, you ask for the same old things: 'promotion and boss' demise'. Status quo.

R K Ashram Marg: You start packing your belongings as your destination is drawing closer. In the process, you invite hungry seat scavengers to hover around you, waiting for an opportunity to grab what's currently yours. You smile at them, and your own luck. After all, you don't get seats during the rush hour if you aint lucky!

R K Ashram to Rajiv Chowk: As the train enters the tunnel, you undo and redo the chains of you bag, the scavengers draw close. You pick up your bag from the turf and keep it on your lap. They're closer now, you can almost sense their breath. You take out your cellphone and find no network coverage. You curse the DMRC, your cellphone service provider, you boss, his wife, you wife, your mother-in-law again, and slip the phone back in your pocket.

Rajiv Chowk: You erect your knapsack on your lap, look over your shoulders to the flock waiting to board the train, then at the ruck waiting to deboard, then at the scavengers waiting to pounce. Then you look at the route chart on the train, ensure that Noida City Centre is still a good 17 stations away, rest your head on the knapsack and shut your eyes.
In your dream, you envision some angry people standing around and hurling abuses at you.

'Crazy people', you mutter.