The metro will be operational in Gurgaon - the suburb of New Delhi where I reside, from Monday the twenty first of June. I have been anticipating this day with unabashed glee. I can see the overhead metro trains from most of the windows in my flat and the station is ten meters from the gate of my condominium. It is so empowering to have comfortable, fast and safe public transport at one’s door step. If a person like me, who has a car and driver, can feel so joyous, I wonder what kind of celebration one shall be watching in the days to come.
I have watched the metro line being built for over three years. I have navigated my car through the debris on the way to work and on the way back. The journey that used to take forty minutes started to stretch to twice that time. I have seen swimming pools being created in beautifully cordoned off roads where the metro workers forgot to leave gaps for water drainage. The walls of the mighty farmhouses on both sides of the tracks were pushed back to widen the roads, some trees were uprooted and transplanted and others remained so that we could zigzag our cars through them. The metro workmen built many a divider between the two sides of the road which would be broken down by the Delhi wallah who had to be true to his pugnacious reputation. Unlike the stations in Delhi, we watched escalators being installed in Gurgaon which made Ma extremely happy. In a few stray cases of site accidents during construction, a few died and others survived as the columns and cranes crashed onto the road.
I was holidaying this summer when I chanced upon a full page article in the International Herald Tribune which described the Delhi Metro as being one of the best maintained and most profitable metros in the world. It charges the lowest fares internationally, transports the largest number of people, is clean and operates punctually. In my mind, the Connaught Place or Rajiv Chowk station is a great architectural conception and the best metro station I have seen. Judge it not by the artwork or glossiness but the size of the station and its ability of not making one feel claustrophobic despite the number of people in it. The Delhi metro has managed to simplify what could have been a rather complex transportation system by speaking the language of the people. The security at the stations is exemplary and there are no bottlenecks in the process. www.delhimetrorail.com
Thanks to you Mr.Sreedharan and your team for making this dream possible. I will be watching the trains go by with pride as I stand in my balcony and will be saluting you.