Then and now

My college was quite close to our home in North Delhi. I rarely used buses for commuting. People coming from South Delhi had no choice. They’d commute for more than two hours each day in Delhi Transport Corporation’s (DTC) U special” buses. The moment we’d finish our lab work, there’d be a mad rush to catch these buses home. I never quite understood what the fuss was all about.

Then I started working and the tables were turned. My office was in South Delhi and it my turn to face the grind of two-hour commutes. Worse, unlike the University, the office wouldn’t close down for a summer break. Traveling in peak Delhi summer in a combination of DTC and private buses took a heavy toll on my health.

The work on Delhi Metro started a few years into my work life. I suffered innumrable traffic jams in the hope that the Metro would eventually make my long commute shorter and more comfortable. By the time the first trains became functional, I had already moved to Bangalore.

[On a trip to Delhi in 2004, I took my first ride in the Delhi Metro.]

Scarred from traveling for long hours in Delhi, I made it a point to rent a place very close to the office. The weather in Bangalore being what it was, I could walk to work. On particularly lazy days, I could take a 10 minute auto ride.

The music you hear is radio blaring from two fat speakers right behind the passenger seat.

The St. Marks road of Nov 2003 in the video above, isn’t the St. Marks road I left in 2011. More trees had been chopped down and traffic had become more chaotic (if such a thing was even possible).

And then the work on Bangalore Metro started. I saw my favourite patch of bougainvillea on MG Road uprooted to make way for the Metro. I saw traffic descend into that familiar pattern of chaos which the construction of an elevated corridor in the middle of a busy road causes. I stoically tolerated the dust, the noise and the broken sidewalks on CMH Road. And when they flagged off the first train some 2 weeks ago, I had moved cities again.

It was a foggy morning in Amsterdam today. The fog can make even your daily morning commute feel like a fairy tale.

They are working on a new Metro line right outside our office. I wonder where I’ll be when it is ready.

November 2, 2011