If you are someone who is claustrophobic even at the idea of more than 5 people within 500 metres of your nose, like I am, chances are that your first ride on the Delhi metro was not a trip to Disneyland. Don't get me wrong. The Delhi Metro is a bloody fantastic example of the capital's well-functioning public transport system, especially when temperatures outside soar to 45 degrees. But there are many hurdles to be crossed before the pleasant lady on its communication system informs you that you've reached your destination.
Take for example, the simple ride from Rajiv Chowk. Your Google research will tell you what not to carry in your sling bag, the time to avoid and what platforms to stay on. But if you overlook the tiny detail that to reach Lajpat Nagar you have to change trains, you are screwed.
The first time I travelled in the Delhi metro, I lost my Kindle. I decided not return again -- a vow that lasted exactly six months --thanks to Delhi's petulant autorickshaw drivers and surge prices of cabs.
The next time I was prepared: I wasn't carrying 'offensive' materials including “manure of any kind” and “rags, including oily rags”, remembered not to travel on the roof of the train or jump over the ticket barrier, and successfully stopped myself from throwing "any object with intent to damage any part of the train or its passenger".
But, I wasn't fully prepared for the kind of co-passengers I would meet everyday, twice, for a year now. Sure, the toe-steppers eventually grow on you and you pick up knitting patterns from the woman in the next seat. In a year of journey, here are the main types people everyone will have at least encountered once on a Metro coach.
1. The Pole Hogger
This person probably takes Major Lazer too seriously and his life's motto is: "All we need is somebody to lean on." The train may be completely packed, leaving you no breathing space-- but it’s absolutely vital this person leans on the pole.
2.The Gate Keeper
No matter how empty the train is, this person will just not move from one position: The door. Even if his destination is 12 stations away, he thinks it's his duty to guard the gate. Nothing is going to move this person -- not a huge crowd at Mandi House or a man trying to get off with four pieces of luggage.
The compulsive comber. For some inscrutable reason, men AND women on the Metro believe grooming is best done on a packed, moving train. These masters of makeup can put on kajal and nail paint without smudging or painting out of the lines.
4. People Who Believe In PDA (Public Display Of Aggression)
Delhi Metro has probably seen more breakups than any other places. The argument typically starts in a low voice, increasing in crescendo as tempers rise and consideration for people around the brawling couple is casually discarded. The ear plugs won't drown out the noise as you exchange long-suffering looks with fellow passengers forced to listen to intimate details of a strangers' lives.
5.The I-Will-Do-Anything-To-Get-A-Seat Person
"How do I get a seat in the Delhi Metro" is one of the most popular threads in Quora. "In a 8 coach metro, try to get inside 7th coach, the junction between 7th and 8th is usually empty," that's one of the hacks a Metro pro suggests. The suggestions range from 'turning 60-year-old', 'choosing the weakest competitors to stand next to' and going all 'SPARTAAAA!' It's really a war zone out there, and people who travel in the Delhi Metro regularly know this too well.
6. The Agony Aunt/Uncle
Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it. However, on the Delhi Metro, it will be given to even those who don't. You could be agonising over a Chemistry exam or a heartbreak, but that one stranger next to you will listen in intently and suggest solutions before you realize that you just took important life advice from a man or a woman whom you will probably never meet again.
7. The Peeping Jack Readers
When it's a long ride, books and texting come to your rescue. But some people in the Metro find amusement in reading other people's books and texts. It comes to a point where you impatiently wait until you are sure the co-passenger has finished a page before you can turn it, to avoid being rude.
And lastly, here's our cat tax -- a video that sums up the experience of taking the metro.
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