Sunday, September 29, 2013

Five people you meet in the Delhi Metro

The Delhi Metro, local train of New Delhi, India
If we could collect miles by travelling on the metro, I'm pretty sure I'd have collected enough for a world-tour. No really, I didn't have a car (I think cars are bad investments, but anyway that's a separate issue), autowallahs were too haughty, rickshaw-waalas were too slow, my friends were car-less, and sitting at home on the weekends was simply not an option that I entertained.

So I had the unique opportunity to travel long distances for random reasons on convoluted paths of the Delhi Metro. I can explain the use of the word convoluted: for example, if I had to go from point A to B, but the metro went from A to C to D and then to B, I'd happily tag along. It was cheap, had Air Conditioning, and fellow travelers graciously offered free, non-stop entertainment.

So now that I'm missing dilli, I thought I'd write an ode to by far the best place around there: The Women's Coach. I have seen many men standing on one leg, falling on the edges, spilling over the sides of the adjacent coach, staring right in (to the women's coach) of course pretending otherwise, trying hard to pry in on every conversation, so I thought I might as well do them the favor and spill the secret of this magic coach.

So here's the observation: all people aboard the Metro at any instant of time can broadly be classified into either or at best, a combination of, these five prime categories:

  • Stare at me, Size me up: This category is predominant: they are sharply dressed, but often have one super shiny, and very-out-of-place accessory on them, almost like a warning signal. Beware, the warning is no use, because by the time you notice the warning, they have noticed you.. Err did I say notice? I meant sized you up from top to bottom, noted all the brands (or lack thereof) that you're wearing, commented on whether the stud around your neck is gold or platinum, decided what 'type' of girl you are, where you live and what you might be up to at that time. They're the hawks and they kill their prey just by staring. So if you're suddenly more uncomfortable than a chicken squirming under butcher's knife, look out for hawk eyes (or the shiny accessory) 
  • Sleeping Beauty: If you don't find atleast one of this category through your ride, you are probably not travelling long enough. They can be spotted along the edge seats, leaning along the panes, enjoying the bumpy ride, some smiling, some mouth open, (once I even saw one drooling, urgh) all enjoying a a surprisingly peaceful siesta, without a care for the world.
    • Sleep walkers: this subtype jumps up at the sound of Rajiv Chowk Metro Station, neatly gets up (wipes away the drool) and walks out like sleep-walking in the metro is the 'in-thing' to do
  • Phone Connection: These ones are stuck to their phones. If the battery dies out, they would do anything to get to the one charging point in extreme end of the coach. Anything. And that means, leaning along five rows of people, requesting two other strangers (who happen to be sitting next to the charging point) to hold the wire and keep the connection as she continues to chatter/ text/ both on the amazingly addictive android device. Caution: This type is generally make-up heavy, and smell like Victoria's Secret, which is great, but they also have extremely well exercised jaw muscles. If you look close enough you can see ab-like sick packs right under the chin, a product of hard work from years of non-stop blabber. And yes, the whole metro knows their life history, past boyfriends, current boyfriends, how many people in office are hitting on them, who said what, whether the boss is cute looking, the latest CK sale, how the fruits are too expensive, but the pink MANGO shorts are a steal. Phew.
  • Lovers: These are the lovers, they travel in pairs, smile a lot, are obviously well-dressed, believe strongly in PDA, and weirdly enough travel right on the edge of the women's coach. The girl is on women's side, the guy is hanging on the other, and of course the hawk's eyes are hanging in right there. If you know what I mean. (If you don't, go to 1)
  • Books and Brew: If there were two seconds between their stop and the now, they'd open a book and read 1.75 words. No kidding, they could be hanging along the ceiling, one hand trying to balance the jerks, back trying to balance a back-pack, feet trying to twitch some space, nose trying to find some air, but eye-balls slithering along pages like a hungry snake advancing towards its prey. As expected, they're the easiest to spot - young, spectacled, (a spectacle themselves), serious, brooding, and not listening to the phone connection (for more, see 3). 

"Yatri kripya dhyaan dein..Dilli Metro mein khaana, peena, ve dhumra-paan varjit hai" 
(Travellers, please take note, smoking, drinking and eating is not permitted on the Delhi Metro)

Happy Travelling!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dark Secrets and Forbidden Words.

Okay, so there have been a lot of troubling developments over the past week but I would like to write about the most distressing one. Writing about my fears is the last (many times the only) trick in my survivors' handbook.

In classes, and on the bus-stop, in a corporate presentation or right after, while running on the track (okay, running to school) or gulping my food - basically practically everywhere I go or everything that I do - I have started to feel the presence of a snoopy something right behind.

Something's been stalking me and the faster I run, the swifter it gets. No really, it does, I've tried.

Wherever I go, it follows. Except that its not the cute hutch doggie but a huge, scary bull-dog that's designed to scare the living daylights out of me. It doesn't bother anyone else you see, it's a nice well-behaved dog for the other pedestrians, the ones they pet and smile at, the one they wish they had.

But inside its screaming, barking, and cursing - spewing nastiness right into mind. It blocks my thoughts, and cuts my veins, it numbs my moves and freezes reflex. My hands start to tremble, my mind starts to wander, my heart is pounding, I struggle to mutter. Thick beads of sweat start surfacing on my forehead (they've been conniving with the bull dog) and they start converging along temples form thicker, more prominent signals of my weakness. I start to stutter and try to recollect my name.
"Who am I, what is all this even about, urgh", I think. A third voice in my mind now takes charge, "This is NOT the time for philosophy, idiot", it starts another bloodcurdling scream. As three conflicting, angry, and obviously fuming voices fight for airspace, the confusion inside my head starts to surface in wrinkles now. The sweat finds more challenging trajectory to start sloping downwards. Aha, and now its starting to smell as well. Incredible, what can get worse. I bring sweaty palms forward to shake hands and hope they're not leaving an impression (literally).
Hope, that's what keeps me alive as the screaming gets louder, the sweat gets dirtier and my trembling hands now graduate to shaky legs. Isn't the room too stuffy, or are the windows closed. There isn't enough oxygen here, I try to stop the screaming as my wobbly legs turn rubber and my mind start to phase out. I am falling or fainting or losing consciousness or I think.

I pass out. The dog's tail is wagging, right behind me.


That's the one word that describes networking. I simply do not know how this works, despite numerous sessions, 'practical' advice, a long list to-dos, do-not's and keep-in-mind's. This does not come naturally to me and I am tethering on balancing rope hoping that I am doing the right thing. Hoping that they don't hate me. Hoping that I'm not cutting the chances of landing a job of the very limited options that I have here. Okay, I'm just a little anxious. But I still hate networking. Shh, don't say that loud. The snoopy something follows if you call out.


PS. For the uninitiated, networking is a socio-academic activity which involves casual conversation with prospective employers. B-school grads ask relevant questions, create an impact, to try and land an interview call. The fear of messing up is so high that it makes the whole activity something of a nightmare. Fingers crossed. And that's really not the point, I think. I'd just like to know people for fun. But anyway, what I think doesn't matter and fun is definitely not on the agenda.
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