Sunday 11 December 2011

Incredible India: Rickshaws and Delhi Metro

Accessing public transport

The journey on the Delhi Metro was an experience in it being both modern & strangely expected.

First, I thought I will join an interminable queue for tickets till I was given a smartcard, the alternative to that was a token which was for single journeys.

In fact, the journey to the metro was fraught with beggars - women, children & wide-eyed toddlers in aggressive pursuit, the remedy was to board a rickshaw, if the driver will ride rather than push. One must confess the rickshaw business is not for old men, I have experienced the vitality of the young and the frailty of the old on this matter.

Look, frisk and scan

You can only get to the platforms through airport-like security X-ray gates, then X-ray checks on all bags, after which you might get frisked before you can check-in at the smartcard gates to get to the platforms. Oh! I did not mention that the security check had separate access for the females too.

The platforms are nicely sign-posted though it is good to know the terminal and interchange stations in the direction of travel beforehand.

The announcements are clear in Hindi and English with indications of what side you can get off on very much like those you get on the Berlin Metro system.

Journey observations

Towards terminal stations the crowd thins out but we could literally be packed as sardines in the central parts of New Delhi.

Priority seating is available for the old and physically challenged, there is special seating for ladies too, though I wonder if that means more than it seem; in fact, the first coach or car is exclusively reserved for ladies and men face fines for flouting that rule - even India does politically correct probably to excess in some cases.

In all, at least on the blue line, the metro in New Delhi is a lot cleaner than our services in Amsterdam, my hosts were surprised at that statement, but that is a fact.

Telling many things

Amongst instructions that get shown on the electronic boards and announced are that passengers should neither play music nor sit on the floors of the Delhi Metro trains.

I was earlier told not to take pictures of a “No Spitting” sign which attracts a penalty of 200 rupees; I later heard that photography and videography is prohibited in all Delhi Metro stations.

Maybe I will now have the courage to go out on my own having seen how the whole system works, but I will be the first to say that this is one city where I have not had the boldness to venture out without a chaperone.

As to why I was out on this adventure, it was for church, communion, snacks and a wonderful fish curry at the home of the pastor, the details of that do require a separate blog.


Codliveroil said...

I like your account of modernity in India and how it co-exists with more traditional life, and how modernity has been adapted to the "Indian situation", ie security checks and female only carriages.

Quick question: Looking at India, you can see it is a nation facing many challenges, but is nevertheless on the forward march. How do you feel about Nigeria?

Things are not progessing, people are talking about "division", as if that will cure the problems that go beyond self-imposed boundaries. An economy that is not diversified, and a society that does very little to advance itself and is falling behind the rest of the world in many issues, take your pick healthcare, education etc.

Democracy somehow is working in India, the same can't be said for Nigeria. In Nigeria, I would say it is "window dressing", whilst the politicians and their associated hangers-on, steal what they can.

Akin Akintayo said...

Hello CodLiverOil,

In fact, I did tweet a good few comparisons and parallels between Nigeria and India, about a week ago, I probably should have compiled the views into a blog.

In general, despite the grinding poverty I regularly see on the streets with aggressive beggars making my sojourn close to unbearable if I went out for a walk, there is considerable progress in this country.

However, many things are held up by inefficient bureaucracies, poor productivity with an excessive labour force doing very little apart from the endemic corruption that challenges every great idea.

Nigeria probably needs to consider both a quest for self-sufficiency and the development of its infrastructure and resources to begin to gain on India.



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