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.

Qutab Minar

Standing among the ruins
Except for that 72 meter tall structure, everything here is in tatters. Years have caught up with the tombs, Sarai (rest house), madarassa (school) in the compound. But the best part amongst these ruins is that hundreds of visitors there were not ruining the place by littering it with empty water bottles and packets of chips or biscuits. The reason was more of a compulsion than voluntary. Bags – which are the carriers of the ‘litterable’ items were not allowed inside the compound. For a mere Rs 2, you could store your bags in the cloak room, of course at your own risk.

As I went from one broken building to another, I also realized that why the tooti-footi, broken buildings in Europe – like the Colosseum in Rome are a great attraction. These aged, half broken, out of shape ruins are strangely attractive. I am still not able to pin point at the exact reason. The silhouette of an incomplete structure with lush green grass – nicely pruned in front provides a contrast of perfection and flaw. May be that was it. Or maybe the freedom to imagine what it would have been in its prime. What would the madarassa where children used to study look  like. Or how would the place have looked had the Alai Minar been completed. (Alai Minar was meant to be double the size of Qutab Minar but could not be completed).

Outside, a man who looked like a senior cleric of a mosque nearby was painting a picture to my imagination of the glorious past. He was sitting outside on a chair laughing and talking to his mobile. All the while, two kids, aged around 10 stood on either side of him waving hand-fans at him assuaging him of the heat on a sunny May afternoon. It would have been the same in the time of the kings who built the Minar. Except that I don’t think kids would have been at the job of being the Fan for the Raja.