Driving is my passion. I enjoy long drives – on the highways looking at the farms, jungle, trees all running along it; and pull by side at local Dhaba to get the taste of local foods. So far I have driven a well over 150,000 kilometres, but mostly on city roads – between noise, dust, smoke and morons. This is the reason I have started to travel by Metro (also called Tubes or Skyway in some countries); even though my lethargy and job requirement does not always allow me to avail this luxury.
My first encounter with metro was during my Kolkata days in 1994. Going by the calmness of the city and cool attitude of its residents, Kolkata will always remain the city of joy. The metro had a token presence in India, then; perhaps because the governments thought it is a luxury for the cattle-class Indian travellers. There weren’t much security check or cleanliness announcements, then, yet it was tidy. They used to sell token for rides and a bunch of coupons for daily travels. Somehow, some Bihari masterminds had developed a formula to save few bucks out of the fare which became irrelevant now Thanks to the technology ridden authorities.
The interval between trains were 10 minutes during peak hours and 20 minutes in off-peak hours; and the total length of the ride was of approximately 16 kilometres from Tollygunj to Dumdum, though the last stations, Belgachhia and Dumdum, were under construction then. Getting seats, then too depended on judging the psychology of the Bong co-travelers and outsmart others in the crowd. Still, in totality, it was a peaceful travel. No one was seen in a hurry.
Life moved on and the next metro station I visited was in 2009, 15 years after of the first one in Delhi. Though the Delhi Metro was started a few years before, but for me, it wasn’t a heritage tour so I preferred to stay away from riding unless it would fall in my route. And it could only happen when I shifted to Dwarka.
I boarded the first metro in Delhi for a dinner treat by a friend at “Barbeque Nation”, a famous restaurant for unlimited buffet food and decent service. The ride was awesome and so was the food. Metro was then expanding its horizon, and it is still on the same path. The riders are growing day by day. You will find every sort of rider here. From senior executive of blue chip companies carrying pink dailies to daily earners; and from retired grandpas to school going kids; and from housewives and fashion conscious college students, almost everyone travels in this chain of vehicles running on the track below an electric wire.
I enjoy my journey because of many reasons. Among most common and general reasons is economical travel, saving from traffic snarl, safe from dust, smoke & heat, time saving, etc. There are a number of other interesting reasons. Some of them have visual pleasure only, or as Ian Fleming puts it, ‘For your eyes only’.
Travel in the metro to explore how interesting and insightful your journey could be; else wait for a textual replica of inside the metro car.