This article has been submitted by Charu Singh for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.
A manicured voice blared, “The next station is Rajiv Chowk. The doors will open on the left. Please mind the gap.”
My heart came in to my mouth in response. We are almost there. I squealed in my seat of the Delhi Metro which is directly overlooking the doors that will open towards the platform. How will it be today?
Rajiv Chowk is Connaught place’s metro station. It is one of the busiest stations of the city which is a crossroad for the Yellow and the Blue line metro route. You could deem it as a place where all social demarcations tend to become 50 shades lighter. Passengers of all ages, colors, castes, ethnicity, economic strata and interests come together consenting to move about the city in synergism. Most of the passengers like me spend a huge chunk of their time of the day travelling in the metro. I travel from my abode to the University which costs me one and a half hour of the day. Over the time, the stop at Rajiv Chowk has become an undying interest for a human behavior observer like me. What provides an impetus to my interest is the short time that encompasses what goes on between the arrival and the departure of the train from the beloved Rajiv Chowk station.
Today was a weekday. The metro was jam-packed. One could hear people respiring. The announcement regarding the arrival to the platform had been made. I look out of the window, it is dark. We are still in the tunnel. My co-passengers have left their seats and have begun to pool around the exit doors. In the next one minute, the metro will halt at the platform. The exit doors will open. There will be an exodus of people pushing themselves out of the tiny doors. This is prodigious moment. The exit won’t be easy. There is going to be a larger pool of people waiting outside ready to use every newton of force building up in every protein fibre of their human(then animal) body to push themselves in order to hole up in every nook and cranny of the train.
Suddenly, lights broke in from the windows. We have reached the platform. 10 more seconds to go. The air thickens with anxiety. I look outside the window. I see a sea of people staring at the metro mentally playing Find-A-Seat. There are eyes all around. Anxious eyes, curious eyes, belligerent eyes. The coldness in their eyes sent a cold shiver down my spine. The train halts.
I look around. I realize that what I am about to observe is a bellicose standoff like you would see between Manchester United and Manchester City, the world war between France and Germany, the cricket world cup final of India and Pakistan, the only difference being that these encounters have been glorified unlike the epic Rajiv Chowk standoff . The people outside are ready to attack as soon as the war trumpet blows off. The metro official guard standing outside looks helpless just like the UN peacekeeping forces during the internal conflicts of Afghanistan.
I observe the inside of the compartment. The air is now spiked with adrenaline. I see that a few big, badass guys have strategically placed themselves at locations to defend their own, just like Arnold Schwarzenegger from the Terminator. Beautiful young ladies have deceptively loaded their manicured claws and are ready to strike any tom, dick and harry on their way outside. All the sleepy uncles that were dozing off not so long ago have now become a part of the crowd, protecting themselves with their laptop bags which are being projected as modern shields and if need be, their deadly artillery. The nerds have put on their glasses for they believe that the pen is mightier than the sword. They will not hesitate for a second in giving the enemy a piece of their mind on path outside. Aunties have taken out carrots, cucumbers and bitter gourds ready to stash their very own desi weapons into the enemy’s mouth cavity in case the situations call for extreme measures. They believe that the only way to enemy’s defeat is through their appetite for foos which is apparently the same logic used by them on to lure their beloved husbands. On the back side are the Ishtuds. Don’t you underestimate them. They have a peculiar logic of their own. With their pumped up hair dos and a smile plastered on their face, they seem to believe that a flash of their smile is enough to defeat the enemy. Well, good luck with that, pretty boys. The most cunning and powerful of the pack are the short height-ers. They have camouflaged with the longer crowd. During the impact, they will infiltrate through the enemies and weaken them.
Cold sweat breaks on every body’s foreheads. The doors open. The silent trumpet blares hard. Impact time. The soldiers on the inside push themselves outside as a unison just like a monstrous sea creature attempting to break free. The enemies who appeared to be a sea break away into tiny droplets due to the force. Finding themselves divided, the enemies begin to seep in through the unified creature. They pinch and punch and find a way in. The guard helplessly blows his whistle, but all in vain. Finally, the creature delivers a coupe de grace and breaks free into soldiers who walk out smelling the cold station air. The enemy now rushes in huge numbers occupying tiny, little spaces inside the compartment.
The doors close. It is over. Sigh.