I allowed way too much time for my journey, sure I’d get lost or confused along the way. I wanted to avoid a repeat of last night’s sweaty slow slog in a taxi, stuck in bristling traffic, so why not try the Delhi Metro? I’d only been on once before, a few years ago, when the five-line system was still expanding rapidly across the city. Online, the interactive map helped me figure out where to go, and that my journey would cost 19 Rupees (less than 50 cents). I headed out, and found overhead walkways to get me across the busy main street of Lajpat Nagar, no line to get my token, a quick pass through security, following the cues as everyone tossed their purses and backpacks through the x-ray machine and stepped through the metal detector. A woman in a sari additionally swiped me down with hands and wand. I barely had to break my stride to follow huge signs in Hindi and English leading me where I wanted to go. A broad clean platform had a sign perched above it, telling me it would be 4 minutes til my train arrived.
My friend Rashmi Sadana wrote an ethnography of the Delhi Metro, after she approached it the way one would a foreign land, studying it as its framework was being placed within the existing cityscape. [Read more…]