For once, the title should tell you what this week’s crib is about. The Metro train, or for that matter any public transport, may rightly be the lifeline of a city, but is also a portable museum of the crankiest characters you’ll ever find. ‘Aap ek Chaddha ji ke baare mein likhte rehte ho. You will find 10 different kinds of Chaddha jis in the metro,’ said the intern, Anurvi, in my team. She went on to list some.
Neha, Aditi, Medha, Debasmita, Khyati — just some of my colleagues who are regular travellers on the metro, were too quick to point out the various kinds of weirdos they encounter daily. Excitedly enough, I went around looking for them myself, and realised that such people might be irritants if you have to bear with their antics at the end of a hard, exhausting day, but are also quite the answer if you are looking for some good, free amusement.
Let’s look at some of the craziest ones that may be making you, too, bang your head against public property...err...the metro door, but they actually deserve medals for bringing some fun in our drab, daily lives.
1 The Seat Grabbers: Whoever coined the humble term ‘seat’ would have had a simple meaning in mind. That of a place to dump your ass for the while that you are not standing erect like the extreme right guy on Darwin’s evolution sketch. I’m sure the father of English language wouldn’t have spent more than two seconds mulling over this word. Par dekho humne usko kitni importance de di. For us, the word ‘seat’ applies to everything – from nursery to college admissions, from concerts to Parliament.
Seat milna, matlab life ban gayi. So how can the citizens of this nation not have a deep-rooted passion for getting a seat in the public transport. Ho hi nahi sakta nah ki we won’t give our life and blood for grabbing a seat. We are yoddhas of all shapes, sizes, age, race, caste — fighting tooth and nail for a seat in the metro. But the best among us are those women, who suddenly realise the weakness — and hence the power — of their gender when they board. Ek toh reserved coach, then reserved seats also in the general coach, and then their eyes light up when they’ll spot a two inch gap on any visibly packed seat. ‘Thoda adjust kar lo’. Kar lo nah.
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2 The pole dancers: You know it’s a great form of exercise, trust me. The poles in the metro also have the strength. If you are hugged through the day by people who have so much love to give, you’ll also become strong, no? But what’s with the very loving parents of little kiddos who let the apple of their eye run through a metro compartment and hang on hand rails as if it’s Appu Ghar gone free? The shrieking kids who are encouraged to run through the compartment are also duly supplied with packs of chips to eat and throw around by the parents, because, you know, the experience of an amusement park picnic can’t be left incomplete just for lack of snacks. Please remove that irritated look from your office. Bachche bhagwaan ka roop hote hain. Repeat after me — awwwwww.
3 The door lovers: Who says the new generation is losing the sentiment of true love? Who, who, who? If we can love the door of the metro train with such passion that we can’t bear to get away from it, just imagine our capacity to love the mortal beings. The announcement aunty can die repeating politely ki darwaze se hat ke khade hon, but hum aise thoda akele rehne denge poor doors ko. We’ll cling to them, lean on them, check out our hairstyle in their glass, check out tourist sights even when travelling underground, but WE WILL NOT GET AWAY FROM THE DOOR. Don’t even ask, it’s too painful. Go and tell the Romeo who’s hanging in the vestibule between the two coaches so that his Juliet can comfortably stay in the pink coach for girls and still shout out sweet nothings to him, but don’t tell the aam aadmi to step away from the door. It’s a democracy, or so at least our social studies maa’m told us.
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4 The Panic Boarders: Why should we bother if the ones who have to get down have got out or not. We’ll rush in as soon as the doors open. This way we get to hug strangers, do a high five of faces, and promote brotherhood in general. Aur thoda panic toh life mein zaroori hai. We can’t be strolling casually into a metro train. What if the doors close while we are entering and make a wall hanging out of us. Vaise that’s not likely to happen. Doors toh kayi baar train chalne pe bhi close nahi hote. Oops!
5 The Snoopy Spies: Put your hand on heart and answer me. Jo mazaa dossro ki chat padhne mein hain, woh apni mein nahi. Hai nah? Bolo, bolo. We are proud snoopy spies who follow the neighbourhood watch policy of the sarkaar very strictly by constantly peeping into the cell phone of the person next to us in the metro. Yaar kya pata koi criminal ho. We need to know nah, what he/she is chatting about. It’s the question of safety and security. We’ll stop only when we get bored, and thanks to Martin Cooper’s invention of 1983 which is also in our own hand, we shall then play loud music and entertain the entire community of that coach. This is called sharing and caring. Samajhte nahi ho.
6 The luggage bearers: Yaar ab metro mein jayenge doesn’t mean my two suitcases and airbag can’t travel with me. If others have to climb over them to reach their seats, they should pay me for allowing them the experience of adventure sports. And by the way, big bags act as extra seats, so even the metro authorities should pay me. I have seen people squat on the floor near the doors. And that’s illegal. Let my bags squat, and then I can squat on them. No rule broken. Life’s beautiful.
Sonal Kalra wants the government to announce awards for amusing behaviour in public transport. With our sense of humour dying, we need desperate measures. Whatsay? Mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/sonalkalra13. Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra