Wake up, get ready, board the metro, struggle to grab a seat, and then de-board the metro. This is the regular morning routine of every Delhiite’s life, which gets repeated in the evening hours as well. This revolutionary idea — for metro travel in Delhi – was born on December 24, 2002, after which it just kept growing in leaps and bounds.
It’s been 14 years since the metro service has been active, which now covers approximately 70,000 km every day. The pocket-friendly service, on record, has been the best means of travel across the city. It saves you from hours of gushing traffic, the pollution, unpredictive rains and the soaring summer sun.
The journey in the metro is an intricately woven part of every dilliwala’s life. It’s simply the “aan, baan aur shaan” of the national Capital. “Delhi metro has given me many ephemeral companions. I have, every now and then, observed fights over seats.
On the contrary, there are people on the other hand, who offer their seats to others. There will be people judging you, remarking on your dresses, shoving and cursing others for pushing and some silently reading. You’ll find every emotion in a single coach. I’m from Lucknow and there is no city like Delhi. I usually travel by metro and people over here are very friendly. They are always ready to help others,” said Medha, a student from Delhi University.
The 51.5 km long Blue Line connects many people to their offices, schools and colleges daily. The morning hours witness students, college people and office-goers in large numbers. There is no stopping the crowd during these hours.
One can find himself/herself almost struggling to find a decent amount of space to stand. Many even end up skipping a metro or two due to the ever-growing crowd.
The corporate dressers, the MNC workers either get off at Rajendra Place or somewhere between the stations on the Noida line. The morning routine for most is to be active enough in order to grab a seat or find a place to travel standing, as well as not ruining their crisp-ironed shirts.
As the day progresses, around noon, the crowd intensity diminishes. The head count in the metro rises again during the afternoon when school kids are on their way back home. People generally avoid the peak hours but what’s the fun when there’s no pushing and shoving, right? Evenings are usually as busy as the day time. The overcrowded metro doesn’t always offer a seat but offers some comfort to the tired and fatigued travellers in the form of the floor!
If you are a Delhiite or have travelled in Delhi metro, then you probably know that you have to fight even to get some decent space on the floor. If you happen to be travelling in the women’s coach, then you are probably going to find a bunch of girls talking at a high pitch, laughing or giggling while discussing boyfriends or sometimes very rarely though — their studies.
The next category belongs to people who fall in the “recently married” bunch. These women often discuss about their mothers-in-law, colleagues and of course, husbands! It’s quite difficult to make out if they’ve had a supertonic energiser drink or just a “very good day”. Then there’s the rest, who are just simply tired and are often found with earphones plugged in or dozing off on their fellow traveller’s shoulder.
After a hectic working week, the weekends come in as a relief for the metro. The crowd is manageable during the day but the evening turns heavier as everyone heads towards the markets. Places such as Tilak Nagar, Rajouri Garden, Kirti Nagar, Karol Bagh, Connaught Place, Laxmi Nagar and Mayur Vihar have stations full of people ready to board the trains.
Areas such as Rajouri Garden, being a hub of malls, markets, lounges and restaurants cater to huge crowds during the weekends. Over the years, metro has become more than just a means of transport, it connects places and hence, people. It’s a common chill-out place for almost everyone.
Waiting for a friend doesn’t seem to be a problem anymore, when you have to do that at a metro station, which gives you both shade from the sun as well as calm from the noisy roads. Quite a few metro stations have now become a common hangout spot for college students and office-goers with all the cafeterias, eating joints and book shops.
While travelling in a metro, you realise that the world is small place. You accidentally meet your long lost friend, your distant relative, your old school teacher and the series of conversations and remembering the old times starts right there. A metro ride can bring you an everyday dose of happiness.
Rajiv Chowk, one of the busiest stations on the network includes Connaught Place, the heart of Delhi, and connects the Blue and Yellow Line. The station constructed below Central Park observes every passenger in a hurry to head towards their destination.
They are so desperate that they even walk on the escalators to save time. One is sure to forget Mumbai after seeing the hustle and bustle at this station. “Rajiv Chowk is such a busy station. Amidst the hurry and crowd, take out some time and sit down at the station (sit near CCD cafe, if you love the smell of coffee) and you’ll find peace.
You also come across a lot of people who would come up to you asking for directions for places such as the British Council, India Gate or Janpath, etc,” said Latisha, a regular metro traveller. Metro even provides a safe and secured travel to women. Travelling by metro is hundred times safer, as you’re not at the mercy of drunk auto and cab drivers during late hours.
With the women’s compartment in the metro, the pink coach, DMRC did go a step further. Today, metro is not just another mode of transport for the 25 lakh people but the heartbeat of Delhi and NCR.
The announcement “Is sewa main thoda vilambh hoga” may also not be a welcome relief for you. The five minute delay and the squeezed state that you have to face every morning must at some point irritate you. But in the end, metro eventually is our most prized possession. Agree to disagree?