Sunday evening at 10.30pm was just another day of work coming to an end for me. However, I was little prepared for the trouble in store. I crossed the streets of Connaught Place, which were still abuzz with shoppers — men and women alike — to reach gate number five of the Rajiv Chowk Metro station. I was headed home in Dwarka.
After about 10 minutes at the security check and a few more minutes of wrestling through the crowd, I managed to reach the end of the queue of people waiting for the Metro going to Dwarka.
Considering the state of public transport and the nature of my job that requires me to be on the move constantly, I prefer driving my own car to work. But I am no stranger to travelling in Metro trains. However, I have luckily not experienced Metro rides at odd hours and that too alone.
The decision to take the Metro at 10.30pm was no daredevil act, but only a way to figure out how safe public transport is for a young working woman.
The wait was endless. I somehow felt that all eyes — for those nine minutes that the train took to reach the station — were fixed on me.
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Finally, when the train came, I rushed inside the second coach, right after the women’s compartment. The next half-an-hour was a relaxed journey which went smoothly listening to music and observing fellow passengers.
The crowded coach soon started emptying and by the time the train reached Nawada — the stop before Dwarka Mor — and the anxiety returned. I stood up and walked to the women’s coach.
Once my station came and I walked out of the station, I realized my ordeal was far from over. Standing on that lonely stretch that night brought all kinds of scary thoughts in my mind. I wondered what if… but stopped. It was 11.30pm and I was stuck outside the Dwarka Sector 10 Metro station with no trace of any auto, battery operated rickshaw or even a cycle rickshaw.
Finally, I spotted an auto-rickshaw from a distance and frantically waved my hand at him, signalling him to stop. He did, but and demanded Rs 100 for taking me home — barely two kms away. I still feel stupid to have refused.
Till a few minutes earlier, I could see a few people coming out of the station. But after the last Metro for the day passed, the road was deserted.
The streets were well lit but not a single soul was around. I was getting frantic calls from my mother. I spotted a rickshaw and hopped on to it agreeing to pay Rs 70 for the ride, realising only later that the rider was drunk. To confirm my doubt I asked him if he was drunk and he said that drinking was common for drivers who drove at night to beat the cold.
Without arguing any further I sat through the journey, along the empty stretches of Dwarka which had no police presence at all.
I finally managed to reach home at 12.10am, after covering a 19 km journey which usually takes about 45 minutes by road.