A Day in Delhi
Previously I have described Delhi as a pretty seamy place but that’s not entirely true. The Lodi Road area is a manicured medium high walled area of gracious houses and gardens. In the Sadet area there are gated apartment complexes and three upscale shopping malls. Yet, off the shopping mall properties along the main road are the requisite bits of garbage strewn here and there. Around most of the historic monuments and edifices it is also clean and tidy with grassy areas.
Because of the craziness on the roads, most people have drivers. Although there are lines dividing the lanes, many drivers do not adhere to them and the buses are the most flagrant in disobeying the laws. The Green Buses a private concession, licensed by the government are the most dangerous, not only to other drivers of auto-rickshaws and cars but mostly to pedestrians. They cause death or at the very least maim many people every year, as the auto-rickshaws weave in and out of traffic nearly missing other rickshaws and cars at a fast clip. Except along the new roads, there is litter and it is amazing to me to see trash being thrown out the windows of modest vehicles as well as the most luxurious of automobiles. The obviously very rich, although they do not litter their own very exclusive, pristine neighborhoods, they seem to have no concern for the environment and sanitation of areas other than their own. I do not understand the thinking of the more affluent of Delhi. If they enjoy living in a clean and beautiful community, why would they not what others, rich or poor to have the same opportunity. Yes I understand that in many really poor communities there is trash, but it is only by training and example that people learn.
I generally spend my days using Delhi’s wonderful metro. It’s clean, fast and generally gets me to, or much nearer to where I want to go. Then I get an Auto-rickshaw, which carries me on the last legs of my journeys. When I finish my business I take another auto rickshaw back the short distance to the metro station and I again hop on using my Smart Card to quickly pass me through the barriers and on to the train platforms. Trains arrive about every three minutes. At peak times the metro cars are ‘packed to the gills’ but what city metro isn’t. One nice touch these metro trains have is two Women Only cars in the very front of each train. Most other metro cars also have two seats set aside for the old and/or the disabled and also an additional two seats for ladies. I found that the more prosperous, educated young men offered a woman a seat, no matter where they were sitting, whereas the small, dark, poor young men, probably from the country never do, even if they are seated in one of the especially designated areas. Maybe they can’t read or maybe they don’t care, who knows. But young women often offered me their seat too, which unless I was going four or five stops, I never took.
The main problem with the Metro is that the passengers refuse to cue. I have found in other situations the same problem occurs, whether at an ATM, buying tickets at for the Metro or any other situation where one must take their turn except one. Buying train tickets at the train stations. If they refused to cue there, there would be riots. But because they have already purchased their tickets, whether the passengers have disembarked, both the male and female crowds push to board the trains. At Rivili Chowk the central station there are both soldiers and policemen stationed at the metal barriers at every metro car-boarding platform forcing the boarding passengers to cue on each side of the barrier leaving a space in the middle for the disembarking passengers to get off before those boarding push to get on. Yet both males and females taken over by a herd mentality begin shoving those ahead of them even before those disembarking have gotten off. At one point having been at the head of the line with a soldier holding back those wishing to enter the train, I had to brace myself holding tightly on to the car door so as not to be shoved into the train before all the passengers were off and the soldier gave the signal to enter. Then it’s a race for the seats.
It is also rare to see a western face on the Metro and most of the time I am a lone blond head in a sea of dark haired passengers. But it is amazing to see the different faces and skin tones of the Indian society. The typical small, brown skinned, dark haired little Indian is not necessarily the norm on the Delhi Metro. Of course because of the cost that by my standards is very inexpensive, the metro is still not as cheap as the buses. It is also not as local. Yet it gets me where I want to go without all the car pollution I would other wise suffer on the major streets, thorough out the Delhi communities.