Sunday, July 15, 2007

namma Metro? Really?

namma Metro? Really?
© By Shashi Krishna

THE BUZZWORD WHEN I was in Bangalore last summer was 'Metro'. As my enthusiastic father filled me in on the 'namma metro' project, I too, like most of my fellow Bangaloreans, basked in the joy of being part of such convenience and style. One more jewel in Bangalore's headdress, I thought. Gone would be the days of three-wheeled robbery of our hard earned income and the never ending struggle to use decent public transportation. No more would one frown upon just the thought of getting out of the house when images of traffic beyond logic would flash in their minds. A perfect answer, it seemed, to an age old puzzle.

But that was last year. This summer, I happened to be in New Delhi for a few days. While there a resident suggested that I try out their local metro system. 'You absolutely must take a ride in our Metro,sir' – he said with a grin that went all the way back to Bangalore's noisy morning streets. I frowned, bringing cynicism back into my eyes, since I was certain that in four years of its existence, Delhi Metro would have become a place haunted by the incorrigible lack of civic sense we are infamous for the world over. The unmistakable hint of human refuse laced with the decorative patterns of paan masala and other colorful outputs we paint our best cities with were sure to greet me into this joyride I was being promised. The moment I began my descent into the Metro station at Rajeev Chowk, I was bracing myself for a nightmare. Or worse.

And then it happened. It was like a roaring fresh water stream in the heart of an intense rainforest. Right there in the middle of the humming interiors of the Delhi Metro, I had an epiphany. India is what it is because of its citizens. If we really want to maintain something well, then we do. If we don't want to, then we ensure it is abused from all corners. The reason I was exploding with such reflections was because Delhi's Metro system is better (and I say this because I have been there too) than England's Underground tube system. Those of you who just rolled your eyes at that statement need to head to Delhi sometime and you will see for yourself. Coming from a madman race we call traffic in Bangalore, Delhi Metro seemed like a well choreographed ballet to me. It did not seem to matter how many tens of thousands were traveling at one time since each one of them was paying attention to instructions and following rules. The interiors of the gleaming stations and the trains roaring past patient passengers were clean and pleasant. People were displaying such responsible behavior that I could do nothing more than cringe at the thought of a similar scene back home.

In all my travels in Bangalore over the past few weeks I have seen nothing but serious traffic violations. Everything from accidents due to rash driving, honk crazy motorists, inconsiderate and impatient four wheel drivers, horrific overtaking, lack of helmet use with the police in sight, verbal abuse of people who actually do follow the rules, irresponsible jay walking and many more! I smiled in wonderment as I could not imagine Bangaloreans behaving in such orderly fashion even if it meant being part of something as grand and global as a well planned Metro system. Having gotten used to reckless chaos, orderliness could possibly be our biggest challenge.

Bangalore is definitely ready for the Metro… but are Bangaloreans?


3 reflections:

Anonymous said...

Well dilliwalas have a much worse traffic sense than bangaloreans but they still behave in the metro. Its the metro's atmosphere of being world class that makes the people behave and if such a thing is implemented in bangalore the same would happen there.

shakri said...


I seriously hope so, my friend. I do. :)

Thanks for the courteous response.


Rahul said...

There are only 3 coaches, not sure how will it accommodate commuters during rush hours.