Itna Sannata Kyun Hai Bhai

A peculiar thing I see in a metro is that everyone is very quite inside. And strangely it has no co-relation with the number of people inside. It is more prominent in case of the underground one. I first observed this in the New York metro or Subway as they call it. We four people – excited to be outside the boundaries of the nation for the first time, were the only ones chatting, clicking photos etc. Apart from us, everyone fell in the category of either eyes on books, eyes closed or eyes gazing randomly at a point with mind somewhere far away. Many of them also had a customary iPod earphone in place. Simply saying, no one was interested in creating much noise there.

I had thought at that time that this cannot be possible in a place like India. Of course till then, I only had the experience of a Mumbai local as a reference point. A few months later I happened to take a metro ride in Kolkata and experienced a similar quietness among the travelers. And now in Delhi, no matter how crowded the train is, a human sound disturbs you only at stations – that too if crowded. Else its only the wheezing sound of the high-speed train moving perilously close to the tunnel walls. People are busy talking to their minds than to some one else. Even when some one tries to break the status-quo, he finds himself against a huge barrier created by the sound of silence. Almost all, even the adamant ones fail to pass the hurdle and soon fall silent feeling odd.

One major reason for lack of voices in an underground metro is the lack of mobile signals. It seems that no connectivity lends a welcome break for people and may be gives them an opportunity for them to reflect inside for sometime. May be that is why the silence is carried on despite the metro moving into the elevated zone. Soon, the destination – the real world beckons. The signals are back and the mobiles go where they belong – on the ears. The metro meanwhile carries on quietly carrying some more silent people close to their self.

Delhi – Gurgaon Metro

Dhalta Sooraj

“Kahin bhi baith sakte hain kya?”, a guy asked me as soon as I had taken a seat in the almost empty Metro from Qutab Minar to Gurgaon. He was a middle aged person – a laborer who was confused and was feeling out of place with his old torn air bag amongst the suave, urban crowd most of who seemed like on a picnic in the metro.
“Pehli baar Metro mein aaya hun”, he explained, probably as confused as one of the kids who was asking his father the reasons for putting the hanging handles on the roof. But he was equally ecstatic too – after all he may not get to travel everyday on a 5 star AC train which according to another kid was “moving in the sky”.
“Gurgaon ka konsa station hai?”, he again asked leaving me confused as well.
“Aapne kahan jaana hai?”, I asked.
“Gurgaon bus stand se apne gaon ki bus pakadni hai”.
I told him to get off at Iffco Chowk station, which I later realised was quite a bit away from the actual Iffco Chowk. After all this was my first journey on Gurgon Metro Line too. Till now I had only travelled on the underground sections in North Delhi. The underground part has its own charm. While travelling you cannot see anything around, the sense of direction has any meaning only if you look at the map on top of the doors. Overhead Metro on the other hand was scenic. And the journey from Quatab to Gurgaon is filled with diversity. You start with Quatab Minar behind you and a vast expanse of greenery around. The trees fall short as you ‘move in the sky’. The way is occasionally dotted with different farmhouses, their privacy destroyed by giving the public a bird’s eye view of the palatial bungalows. The distinct Chattarpur temple then looms large over to the left. Gradually the human intrusion starts surfacing as the green gives way to the brown and then eventually a jungle of a different kind – the skyline of the millenium city. And within half an hour, you have successfully made the transition from the history to the future.
Gurgaon Skyline
As I sat there clicking photos and watching excited toddlers having different views of the changing views outside, it was tough not to notice the laborer. He had not looked outside the window even once and sat there looking at the floor all the time. The only time he looked around with expectation was when a station came. Obviously he will have some different kind of experiences to tell to his family.
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