As the caption goes, in this post are embedded all clicks forbidden. We are not supposed to take pictures inside the Metro. However, I shall reiterate what I have said earlier. Metro is the microcosm of the urbanscape. A thought that always overbears the mind as I step inside the mammoth structure of brick and mortar, whichever part of the city, be it standing tall and proud. A few decades back, the quintessential Delhites could never have imagined an overhead (or for that matter underground) network of reptilian tubes crisscrossing the cityscape in a deceptively languorous gait, (seen from afar), carrying an overload of daily commuters from one end of the city to the other. The imposing corridors of metallic tracks efficiently weaving through ever busy roads choked with traffic. With the advent of Metro, life has taken a surprise turn for the better. A technological leverage which at first intimidated, then stunned by its continued and meticulous adherence to systemic routine and gradually made the daily runners over dependent on its comfort carriage. I have often written about my daily journeys to and fro office by the Metro. The well maintained concourses, the frugality of space inside the overburdened coaches, the hustle and bustle, the push and pull, the jolts and jostles and a shift in commuting culture, though painfully slow, yet indicative of a welcome transformation in the behavioural pattern of an irreverent crowd habituated to rowdiness and unruliness. Above all, a growing pride for a much needed breakthrough in the transportation system which not only saved time but also provided a cleaner, cooler and more hygienic travel in the midst of heat and dust and a pollution coughing city. Similarly, during the freezing cold of extreme winter, the jungle of human bodies stashed inside the bogies provided a warmth which might not have overflowed from the four chambers of beguiled hearts, yet was good enough to make one feel cozy (even if for a very short span of time), while the mercury outside alarmingly tipped towards zero.In short, the metro fascinates me. So do the motley of crowd, I lose myself in, the known and the unknown faces, I bump into, though just for a while, yet long enough to leave a lingering impact and imprint on an impressionable mind always on the lookout for stories to tell. In anonymity lies strength, in ambivalence a quest for definitiveness. Lost I find my way.
The shocking pink arrow drawn ostentatiously on the grey-green platform with “ Women Only” super scribed on it, earmarks the point where the Ladies Coach (the first one adjacent to the driver’s cabin) comes to an unerring halt. Most of the pics have been taken from this vantage point. No brownie points for guessing why.The glass doors slide open to usher in a rush of not so dainty or demure steps. During peak hours the exodus borders on stampede. There have been occasions when the de-boarders were unceremoniously pushed to the ground and ruthlessly trampled over eliciting violent outbursts like “abhi haath lag jaayega toh chillaaogi” from irate members of the opposite sex. If you ask me that shade of magenta is a bit too garish in a bid to be eye-catching. Still some boarders are daft enough to overlook the ‘screaming’ pointer incurring the wrath of the femme fatale. The resultant whiplashes of the verbose kind, admirably eloquent and laden with chosen expletives, sprinkle an extra dash of spicy garnish to an otherwise insipid rut of the day.To that extent, the colour pink with all its indulgent shades, inarguably synonymous with the feminine gender of yore, today exemplify a mistaken identity. Frankly, I have forgotten when I did blush last! For all you know, the pink arrow is a dubious indicator to an obsolete quintessence. For the romantically inclined it may be a rueful remembrance of a bygone era of coquettish charm, fluttering lashes, tremulous lips and faint hearts. But now, as the black belt is tightened around a waist size zero, the colour pink retrieves its steps hurriedly back to the palette…!!!
Coming back to my co-commuters – men and women lost in the respective worlds of their making – do look at times like stranded animals in a closed bio-park waiting patiently for a sudden release. A pack of laggards who should have vacated the premise much earlier but had somehow stayed on forgetful of the notional time of departure. Sounds terrible and I don’t know why I said that but as I stare harder at this pic the feeling of some kind of a human spill-over takes stronger and deeper hold on my imagination. A spill-over which we can do well without….In saying so, I might have as well included myself in that humongous throng!!!!Notwithstanding, the flicker of discomfort which an unexpected revelation induces, at times it is good to retreat to the roots and recollect, with a certain sense of embarrassment, the fact that we are the evolved (?) successors of the Cro Magnon Man (early homo sapiens), valiantly trying to claim superiority over the endless expanse of cosmic creation, mistaking the tireless effort to be divinely pre-calculated or a blunder unparalleled, whichever.
An act of disobedience, needless to say, is surreptitious. The clicks could have been spectacular had I had the liberty to shoot openly with more exotic and goes-without-saying-more-expensive lenses. With a palm-held insignificant looking device and the enormity of pretenses that went with the underhand job, was, without doubt, shameful. A slight press of the thumb on the centre button did it while I indulged in award winning acts of reading smses or vacantly admiring a way out-dated model (Please don’t ask me the no.) from various angles. Had a talent scout been on, I could have seriously bagged a few lucrative offers for showcasing my prowess – more in the line of befooling the Authorities than any other serious competence worthy of a mention. In so far as the pictures are concerned, given the masterly sleight of, I should say, fingers, nothing better could be expected than the ones put up here. And that, mind it, is not a boast of a braggart but just a factual statement.
Whatever alternates, there could have been to exploit or ignore, the fact remains, I did take potshots, in the literal sense of the term, as and when opportunity or the lack of it prevailed. My favourite amongst these is this one.
My uncle, an ace photographer himself, always criticized the lack of light or the total absence of object in my shots. More on that some other time!! Still, incorrigible that I am, whenever I glimpse the silver caterpillar-like-tube crawling into the platform my fingers itch to capture its mechanical beauty and grace. Its sedate glide through the archway, the perfect halt and the patient wait till the bipeds flooding her gleaming interiors have settled themselves in even if that means crashing into each other’s perspiring carcasses, oops, sorry, bodies. A few of the shining glass windows lining the compartments are hideously cracked from one corner to the other – ugly scars like lightening cutting across a smooth contour . Handiwork of mobs gone berserk the day she was inaugurated and in their frenzied excitement did what they should never have done – vandalized history leaving a defaced page behind!
My wayward ramblings easily careen close to those aggressive builders of civilizations who have on one hand created spell binding constructs of almost godly perfection and the next moment shattered them into smithereens putting an untimely end to a saga of toil and sweat in a mood of utter intolerance and those mute watchers who have witnessed the spectacle in awe, apathy or a premonitory sense of impending doom ruminating over the chronology of destruction with hard-earned detachment – the former the scribe of doers and devastators; the latter the survival seekers and chroniclers of passage of time immemorial. Yes, the human species, for and on whom the city thrives, gives me enough fodder to chew on, several would say, meaninglessly, but as I say, it is the meaninglessness that gathers momentum in the cerebral creeks of a diehard gazer whose everyday meanderings may have lost its sheen. Still rows on the canoe on heavily sedimented beds of stilled time. Who knows what brews underneath the sedentary surface? Perhaps a contrast of currents deeper and restive… a sleeping volcano!!! Time shall tell…
To be continued…