Though Delhi’s roots burrow deep into the past it also has some of the best of modernity, most obviously the Metro, which is one of the finest in the world.
An impressive piece of modern engineering, its sturdy concrete pillars cut a swathe through west and north Delhi, immediately impressing whoever sees them. Once inside the stations are clean and well designed with state-of-the-art technology such as motion-activated escalators and electronic ‘smart’ tickets. The residents of other cities can only look on with envy.
“It’s much nicer than London or Washington as you’re not underground,” says Tom O’Connel, an American working for the World Health Organisation. “You can see sunlight and the roofs of the city,” he adds.
O’Connel appreciates how the air-conditioned comfort of the spacious carriages lift you above the sluggish traffic, ear-pounding noise and choking fumes below.
In the slightly self-serious Metro safety awareness films broadcast on station platforms the Metro Chief E. Sreedharan says, “Metro is the pride of India”. This may be a bit of an overstatement but is definitely the pride of Delhi. Much more entertaining are the information videos done in the style of a soap-opera. “The videos are fun and even the adverts help pass the time while waiting for the train,” says mobile phone salesperson Kirti Saxena.
Admittedly it can get crowded and elbows fly thick and fast when getting on and off but there are other things that compensate. Like the way people tell you off if you leave your newspaper behind on the seat. Ravi Jawa a student says, “I wouldn’t do it in the street but when I see people littering inside the train I get annoyed and tell them”.
Sitting with his friends on the floor of the carriage, Raghav Bajaj, a model from Dwarka, says, “I love the Metro, it’s so cheap and fast, it gets me and my friends to the mall with no trouble”.
Mr Verma of Karol Bagh prefers the smooth aluminium seats and says he appreciates the safety. “My nephews and nieces are using the Metro a lot and I am happy the security is checking all the bags.”
It seems Delhi can’t get enough of the Metro with new lines planned to expand all over the city. The sooner they do, the better, so more Delhiwallahs can take advantage of the best of Delhi's modernity, Delhi Metro.