Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Day In The Life Of A Metro Commuter.

Welcome to Calcutta Metro Railway. Calcutta Metro Railway aapka swagat karta hai. Kolkata Metro Railway aapnader shagoto janaye.

These are the pre-recorded welcome lines you will hear whenever you take the Kolkata metro from any of the terminal stations.

Specklessly clean paltforms and trains arriving exactly on time is what makes Kolkata metro. It is fast, safe, less time consuming and much more convenient. Spanning a length of about 17 km and 17 stations, you can connect south (Tollygunge) to north (Dum Dum) in just 33 minutes. The maximum permissible speed is 55km/hr and the average speed is about 30km/hr.

No, I am not using this post to advertise Kolkata metro. The Indian Railways still hasn’t paid me for that. This post is meant to delineate particular categories of people I find travelling in metro everyday. The typically funny categories. When you love to study people, you will be amazed to notice how much facial expressions and body language speaks about someone. And even if you have been regularly commuting like me for years, there will always be something new to see every time you take that train.

The Clan Of Milkha Singh.

If I am to direct a remake of the movie Daud or Run, I would cast them. The moment the sliding doors open, they will come jostling for seats and in the process, they will stamp on someone with arthritis, accidentally sit on other people's laps (well, almost) and collide head on with people trying to get down.

And then they are the ones who will come running down the stairs and wave to the motorman, even if the doors have been shut close. From the stairs to the ticket counters to the escalators and then to the train, they will run and collide with a dozen people. Not that they are the really busy people on whose shoulders lies the progress of India. They might be found sleeping in their offices and chatting for hours over cups of coffee. I wonder if they try doing their bit of physical exercise with this running act.

The Unenergetic, Sedentary Types.

Just opposite to the previous category, these are the ones (mainly women) ever in need of that one glass of Bournvita everyday to give them the necessary horsepower. They will sit on seats with legs spread apart and exactly keep a distance of 15cm from the sides. And they will pay no heed to the women who complain, “Shorey boshun”. And then you literally have to push them with your bums to close that 15cm gap.

Platform Mein Timepass

They loiter about in platforms for hours till the blue uniformed men come and drive them away. Some constantly spit pan and throw pan parag wrappers on the railway tracks. They will ask you the time despite the huge digital clock hanging prominently. And every two minutes, they will dangerously lean on the tracks to see if the train is coming.

The Deceptive Types.

These are the most dangerous category of people. For every 10 seconds, she will adjust her saree and rearrange her bag, as if she is just about to get down at the next station. And then she opens her side bag and brings out a hand bag, opens its zip, and all the while lures you into believing that she must be digging for her ticket inside ‘coz she has to get down. And then she brings out a hanky from the deepest recesses of her purse, stylishly wipes off the beads of sweat, careful not to damage her make up, drinks some water, and gives you a look that tells you she knew all the while that you thought she was ready to get off. For all that you know, she gets down at Dum Dum or Tollygunge (the two terminal stations), and leaves you standing and needing your own hanky all the while.

The Sleepyheads.

They do not get to sleep at home, thanks to cantankerous spouses and obstreperous children. So they catch up on all the sleep in the metro, sometimes even standing. And in this process, they invariably fall on other people and irritate them to the extent that people would want to stick a bamboo pole into their nostrils. Well, anything to wake them up. I wonder how they never miss the station they are supposed to get down at.

The Phoney Category.

No, they might not be phoney in the real sense. But all that they do in their metro sojourn is fiddle with their mobile phones, play games, send sms, and play ring tones, totally oblivious to everything happening around them.

“Blessed By Cupid” Types.

They are the oblivious lovebirds you find hidden behind the station pillars and in the vestibules. They will not take a seat even if they could. And you just have to see them trying to defy Newton’s first law of motion. For they would never hold on to the steel hand rails and would love to stumble on each other every time the motorman does the brakes.

The Gynophilous Variety.

Not that this word exists. But splitting it etymologically will give you gynos+philous = lover of women. Needless to say, they are men who prefer standing in front of the ladies seats and gawking at women. They will not mind being jostled by women in a crowded metro. Some of them would always prefer to sit on the ladies seats. And they just will not get up until and unless you stick your fingers into their nose, bend their head upwards, and show them the L-A-D-I-E-S sign printed in bold red. And then they will make a face as if they have done you a favor by vacating the seat, expecting you to be thankful to them for the rest of your life (and I am referring to those young men who do it on purpose).

The Adventurous Escalating Types.

They fear the escalators like anything. But they will never take the stairs. So on a busy morning, you will find them standing in front of the escalators, almost putting their right foot on it but pulling it back at the last moment. This will happen till the other commuters start yelling. And then, one of the braver ones would just hold their hand and drag them up. And in the meantime, I’d be scared shitless, wondering what if they lost balance and toppled over me? Apna to ram ram satya ho jaayega.

And I must not forget to mention those unruly children and jobless adults who while their time moving unnecessarily up and down the escalators while waiting for the train.

The Alices In Wonderlands.

They see the train entering the platform, the doors opening, and just when the doors begin to close, they make some stunts and hop in. And they sit comfortably in the metro while the doors open and then they suddenly jump off their seats and make a headway for the doors. No wonder I have seen office bags being stuck in between doors and slippers left behind on the platform while the owner manages to get into the train at the nick of time.

Ghar Grihasthi Waale Gregarious Behenjis.

They get on the train with trunks and suitcases and a bunch of children. And they will stumble and fall, unable to decide on where to sit. And then there are moms with school going kids who empty the kids’ school bags, take out the copies, discuss homework with the other moms, force their kid to eat the unfinished tiffin, and scream “jashna jashna” (don’t run around) while the kids would run around and punch each other. And they would discuss their mom-in-law and the daily khit pits at home. Not to mention how Qazi Taukeer manages to get junta’s vote every time, the latest updates on Jassi and Armaan, and how the k-bahus always manage to look so prim and proper.

Yeh Seat Sirf Mera Hai.

Think of a seat of 8 where 7 not so thin people are already sitting. So maybe a kid or a pet dog could barely fit in. And then a big, fat lady comes, scans the seats, and demands, “Shore Boshun” (make space for me). The other 7 twist and turn and make some space that will not even accommodate half her ass. Imagine a big fat lady sitting with a tithe of her ass touching the seat, and the rest of it hanging in mid air, cursing the rest 7. Well, anything to get that seat !



Kapil said...

12 categories of metro-riding hoi-polloi.. but u fail to tell which type r u ..?

kay said...

hmm...lol...i belong to ur type...the one who keeps on looking at ppl and categorising them!kayshadowed.rediffblogs.com

Abhi said...

Now this was information.its pretty nice to see what you "non-flyers" feel like.its informative to get a feel of what you "rail gaadi" people feel like.and u sure sound like the "Ghar Grihasthi Waale Gregarious Behenjis".make it "Ghar Grihasthi and chaar bacche Waale Gregarious Behenjis".;)

ps - im sorry fr being mean buddy.cant help it.im not called mr.hawai jahaj fr nothing.

sunshine said...

*Kapil....I fall into the category who will marvel at the engineering and the technology used, and a thousand questions would pop up in my mind and then I would start troubling my friends with the questions. BTW, I hear that the designing team of the Kolkata metro was from IIT Kgp. But how come I never find your blog web page?

*Kay....so how many categories of people have you seen other than the ones I have listed?

*Abhinav....Jaane de jaane de, thodi hawaa aane de. So the next time you go about impressing a female, do not forget to take your private jet with you.

Kapil said...

*Sunshine: Kya baat hai.. U seem to b on a comments spree..!! Sept. tak nibta diye saare..?! LOL!

I'm not from Kol & dont use d Metro in Del,so really cant classify myself.But if i had to;then I wud b d "wistfully-looking-out-of-d-window" type!
Dunno y u mentioned IIT-Kgp tho; no connxn wid me..
& Lastly,d reason for d lack of a blog:Its just 2 much work!& im a quitter.Always hav been.So dont think even if i DO start it;i wud b able2 blog4 long..!
P.S: wats wid d "word verifcn"..? Just adds 2 d work...

lin ping jung said...

hey hi!

the SUN thts always SHINING

the way u expressed yr understanding of human behaviour is truly amazing...

i try n follow yr posts whenever possible...the difference between u n me in this context is u observe and then pen it down whereas i just stick to the first part...

great work...sometimes looking at yr post i too feel like starting my hand at writing...!

c y

DeePDiveR said...

What about the category of commuters that lose their tickets everytime even after promising the rail officers to be 'extra careful next time' and then have to clip beneath the bars and try to escape unnoticed? I am very heartened that u've havent noticed such people....that means i am doing a darn good job!

Abhilash said...

i dont think I am in any category like this .. i just use it to go where I want, notice some chick.. or read a novel and wait.. :D

I dont like crowds.. so I am going home.

kya din aa gaye hai tere, tujhe behenji bolne lage log :P

Vidhi said...

hi sunshine...! here thru abhinav's...a very hilarious and well-written post! btw, those pics u put up at the start of the post...r they of Kolkata Metro? me not used to seeing railway stations so sparklingly clean in india...so got the doubt!!

sunshine said...

kapil....I finally realised that I should get in touch with the people who invest time in reading my posts. I mentioned IIT Kgp 'coz that's another piece of info. I collected recently. Nothing to do with you buddy. And the word verification 'coz I won't tolerate my space being spammed.

lin ping jung....thanx buddy. Why don't you start writing? It gives you an amazing sense of satisfaction. Trust me.

deepdiver.....naah, I have rarely come across such people. Don't tell me you fall into that category.

abhilash...munnu calls me behenji 'coz he is plain jealous of me. And look at him going green with envy when this behenji takes a flight !

vidhi...hi vidhi, as you must know, photography is not allowed inside Kolkata metro. I wanted to put up some snaps, but I couldn't find them. These are from Brussels and Paris I guess. But trust me, the 1st snap seemed to me like Park Street metro station and the second one like Tollygunge metro station. Hence I put them.

jive said...

wish bangalore had a metro...

sunshine said...

jive....Let Kolkata have something that Bangalore doesn't have. Waise bhi it seems that all the interesting people in Kolkata eventually shift base to Bangalore. But tell me, did you discover my blogs through Abhinav's or did you discover Abhinav's blogs through mine?

strangequark said...

IIT-Kgp developed the thermodynamic design part only. :)
and u know, there speaks a kgpian :D
btw, nice observation :)

sunshine said...

strangequark...ah, so you are from Kgp? Do I know you?

strangequark said...

your choice : (may be one is true)
1) i know you, you know me.
2) i know you, you don't knwo me.
3) You know me, i don't knwo you.
4) we stumble upon, in cyberspace, full-stop.


nevertheless, you write good stuff.
try, print-publishing.