Life in the Metro

Delhi MetroDelhi. Metropolitan. Cosmopolitan. A city that always sweats due to the heat and the constantly moving feet. A city of boiling blood, road-rash and rapes. Success or happiness is not measured on the barometers of ‘peace of mind’; it is the pace that defines where you shall be-heading (pun intended). Making Delhi sweatier and pacier than ever before is the breast-medal of Delhi that it bears with pride. Delhi’s ‘aan, baan aur shaan‘- The Delhi Metro! The one place where you understand that the true meaning of the great words, “A fart is much more than the noise it makes.”
Many a times have I sat down on a waiting bench or rather the parapet of an advertising board pillar and observed people running in all eight quadrants of the static space. The only way I feel to get past the rising decibels of fellow travelers/lovers is to plug in my earphones and go full blaze on my ear drums! As I see the people around me when I board the metro, I sometimes am at a loss of words. People of Delhi, my words can’t define them, but occasionally, my randomly shuffling playlist does.

Voices by Godsmack
Delhiites are loud. And the semi-Punjabi bred Delhiites like me, carve a very special niche for ourselves among a crowd when we start conversing. But it is not only these voices, it’s also the voice of a short balding middle-aged man with a white pin-striped shirt hanging half-way down as the fabric encounters his enormous belly, trying to negotiate with a client all the while staring at this girl who has put up a little too much maskara today. It’s also the voice of a frustrated girl trying to explain to her mother why she can’t come home for the weekend, (I don’t know either, sorry; I wasn’t paying attention), while she carefully skims a layer of her maskara with a tissue that is already blushing red with the kisses she landed on it to lighten her lipstick. The voice of a kid, wailing, who can’t explain to his parents that he’s suffering from motion sickness as he slaps his way on a sack of rice that this lean sweaty man just loaded as he plays some Bhojpuri classics on his newly acquired Chinese phone. Just as I look the other way, the song changes to….

Normal by Porcupine Tree
One is one of my favourite songs. A song that takes my attention a young girl reading a book, the likes of ‘Chanakya’s Chant’; smartly dressed, perfectly made hair, the color of her earphones matching that of her phone’s cover, pink and yellow nail-art… (That’s not quite normal for me, but it’s Delhi, come on.) Sitting next to her is a guy with stubble, wearing a slightly crumbled formal shirt, working on his laptop, eyeing the seat under the electrical plug-points, eagerly waiting for it to get vacated, so he can make a switch, yet at the same time, stealing short glances at his beautiful co-traveller fidgeting with her nail-art. At a little distance, near the doorway, a young guy, perhaps who just entered his twenties, wearing a cheap khadi kurta, rehearsing the lines of perhaps a play he is going to be a part of, murmuring under his breath and all the people around him looking suspiciously at him as he gives some animated expressions and occasional gestures. No matter how much I like this song, I change the song to the next track that plays….

Pretender by Foo Fighters
One of my personal favourites, not as a song, but as a category of people it draws my attention to. They come from small towns and are fascinated by the lifestyle of their peers here. They mostly travel in groups, coherent groups. But if you look closely, they are a group of couples. They find boyfriends/girlfriends very easily as is the sole necessity of their lives, they have just started drinking and smoking up and would try every brand of booze that has been ‘talked about’ before. Desperate and outgoing, they are a friendly race. They love clubbing, save money for it and are devotees of Shri Shri Yo Yo Honey Singh. Apart from the metro, they are also found in movie theatres, sorry, multiplexes, they call ‘em, loyal, as they are to whatever Bollywood craps out. They are loud, not Punjabi loud, but yeah, they take the lol- laugh out loud quite seriously as every half-witted joke in their group totally cracks them up. Oh and one particular characteristics of the girls in these groups, they are seen actually kicking or punching their male friends when they make fun of them. Lookout for them, especially those who travel by the yellow line a lot!

Behind Blue Eyes by The Who
This song is for the most entertaining category of metro travellers. You are sure to have either smiled or scorned at them if you have ever taken the train. Behind blue eyes, lies a boyfriend who wears a tight t-shirt and extremely slim-fitting jeans, and applies oodles of hair gel. The most common mark of identification of this kind is an over-confident extra energetic gut. He travels with his girlfriend, such that she is in one corner, near the door while he stands facing her and makes a third wall with one arm of his while the other hand is busy caressing her hair. How sweet!
Now if you travel a lot by metro, I am pretty sure, some of you might think this is one couple from the previous song, they might be, but I am not that keen an observer to know.

Arriving Somewhere but Not Here by Porcupine Tree
Then there is this group of commuters that are perfectly described by the title of this song. This is a busy breed of people. The sweat drenched beedi smoking average working class Indian. They are seen frequently changing metro lines, climbing metro station stairs by the threes, getting off at wrong stations and occasionally, fearing to get on the escalators. These are the people who deserve the metro the most only until they play crisp regional songs on their Gaffar bought cell phones or sneeze a perfect spray of saliva into the air.

India is a land of diversity, I was taught in class one, and Delhi its capital, I’d like to think I knew that before class one. So certainly, five songs on my playlist aren’t going to describe all the people who take the Metro in Delhi, but I hope I came close. Love us, or hate us, but we are Delhiites, with an unquenchable thirst for Bollywood masala chai, unfathomable love for cricket and incomprehensive respect for our women, we are people with a big heart and a small pocket and that is precisely why Dilli is said to be Dil-walon-ki! (Finally used that cliché! Yes!)

Adios till the next time. If you felt I stereotyped you with a group you hate, then you need to work on yourself; if you think you fit in well in a group, well, good for you. Hope God helps you find a seat in the metro! Keep commuting!