On my way to work in The Delhi Metro on 10 February 2019 , I found several people specially dressed in yellow (see pic above) to celebrate the festivals of Basant Panchami and Saraswati Puja on that day. I wished I could join them in their pandals…
It reminded me of another yellow day 2 years ago…Click here and read on… https://jasbirchatterjeephotoblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/07/a-yellow-day/
When innovations work in a developing country like India, it feels like a great miracle indeed!
A few days ago, I read in the newspaper that the Delhi metro card can now be used to pay DTC bus fares too.
So, last week, with much trepidation, I gave my Metro card to the conductor for a Rs.5 ticket to go to Janakpuri West, which was just one stop away.
He said, “Let me try.”
As I had expected, his ticket vending didn’t work. He didn’t have any change either and I was just about to reach my stand. A frantic search in my purse, however, yielded a Rs.5 coin and I managed to drop off with a ticket in my hand.
A few days later, on 21 November 2018, however, I was luckier. Though the machine took some extra time and I had a Rs.5 coin ready, the bus conductor asked me to wait. He was determined to make the machine work. I was absolutely delighted when a ticket came out of it just in time. See the pic on top.
When I said, “Thank you, Bhaiya,” he responded with a triumphant smile and a thumbs up gesture!
The following day, however, I was in a different DTC bus on my way to the same stop. This time, the conductor said, “The machine is not updated yet for metro cards.”
Well, each day is different, isn’t it? Everything can’t be perfect.
Developing countries like India are, I think, like curious, innocent toddlers. They eagerly put everything they find into their mouths and provide ready, lucrative markets for the multinationals.
Take CCD (Cafe’ Coffee Day) outlets in Delhi NCR, for instance. Their food items and beverages are exorbitantly priced. But they still have a huge clientele because their overall ambience provides an ideal setting for many special occasions where price is not the main consideration…A quiet date, a family outing, a business meeting, an interview, etc…And sometimes, you might even spot a small group of young people just lounging around over coffee and clicking selfies with pouting lips.
But India is changing. Very fast. Living standards and expectations are improving. New fast food chains like Burger King and some local outlets in are proliferating. Not only are they offering healthy, wholesome food at reasonable prices, they have swanky premises too.
CCD is, I think, already beginning to feel the pinch of rising competition and decreasing profits. You often find them using different marketing gimmicks, which looks rather pitiable and amusing, as their basic characteristic of high prices remains immutable.
Recently while passing by through Rajiv Chowk Metro Station on my way home from work , I came across this poster outside a CCD outlet. (See below)
It gave the impression that all those tasty items were on sale for Rs.29. Out of curiosity, I walked in. To my utter disappointment, however, I discovered that the only item costing Rs.29 was their ‘Bun Chaska Masala,’ which after adding GST changed to Rs.30.
Their counter sales person must have sensed the way I felt at that time and he urged me to try a combo instead. But that was going to be from Rs.51 onwards, he said. Not being someone who gives up easily, I told him I will have just the bun.
His next question was, “Will you eat it here or should we pack it?”
“Pack it, please,” I said.
“Okay, please wait for 5 minutes.”
The dish that finally arrived on my table wasn’t packed and I had to eat it there. Here, take a look.
Waiting, waiting, waiting….
Just a pair of buns, butter, and sauce; no filling!
Well, the burger disappeared into my belly soon thereafter without giving me any joy. So I came out and searched for something else…
While I walked on, I came across another CCD. They had a pair of counter sales persons repeatedly calling out in a chorus, “Welcome to Cafe’ Coffee Day.” That was obviously another sales gimmick and coming from CCD, it seemed to be very self-demeaning indeed. See this pic below.
And then, further ahead, I found a Burger King restaurant.
To my pleasant surprise, they had a scheme of 2 veg. burgers at Rs. 62, that is, one for Rs.31, with each veg. burger containing a potato-and-peas patty, onion, and some mayonnaise. By the time I boarded the metro train at Rajiv Chowk, my hunger pangs were gone and I had a surprise treat too in my bag for my daughter, a Burger King veg. burger!
There you go! See these pics below.
Well, it does pay to be a discerning customer, doesn’t it?
All bad memories are bad. But all good memories are not always good either; because unlike good times, they last forever and make you yearn for things that you can never retrieve…
Take me, for instance.
In 1989, on the last day of my PG studies in Delhi University, when I boarded the U-Special on my way home, I thought I would never have to look back again on this phase of my life.
But no, I discovered later that I was perpetually looking for reasons to pass through the same corridors and tree-lined avenues again. Not because of what I studied, which was not of much use anyway, but because of all those wonderful people who enriched my life during those years and the many ‘firsts’ I experienced because of them; my life’s first date…My first trip to the iconic Chanakya Cinema to watch the Oscar-awarded Hollywood film ‘The Last Emperor; it felt like walking through a fairyland; my first visit to the Mughal Garden with my friend Seema on our birthday. Her birthday was on the same date as mine. Walks through the lonely Ridge with my classmate Pallavi. My poetry’s very first fan Geeta who loved to critique my poems and always motivated me to keep writing…The music of ghunghroo in someone’s Payal, chumm, chumm, chumm, piercing the silence of a library…
All those little things now keep appearing in front of my eyes again and again, like little treasures at a beach emerging from deep within the heart of a boundless ocean….
I hope and pray that wherever those friends are at present, they are happy, successful, and content.
On 7 August 2018, my daughter Suroshri mentioned casually if I could accompany her during her M.A. (English) admission at DU’s Arts Faculty.
“Because you were with me during B.A. Admission too.”
I was only too happy to do so and it was my weekly off anyway. So there was nothing to stop me and that’s how I got the chance to walk through the corridors of the Arts Faculty again after so many years.
After she was through, we had our home-made brunch on a seat under a tree. It felt just like the old times at the university.
During our walk around the place, I was pleasantly surprised to see that now there are far more trees and greenery in this area than before. See the pics below.
But the number of wide open spaces has decreased because of infrastructure expansion, which is sad but inevitable because of the huge, burgeoning demand to create more and more seats in a central university as overvalued as Delhi University. Its popularity, I think, has a lot to do with its reasonable, affordable fee structure and its emphasis on complete transparency through complete digitalization in its operations.
The P.G. library, in particular, where I spent several hours at studies, I noticed, was locked from outside. I felt a bit disappointed when I saw this, but I think they have probably shifted the library somewhere else and utilized the space for some other purpose.
I clicked lots of pics that day. See them below. It gave me a lot of satisfaction, since we had no access to cameras in those days and the only photos I have of those days are the ones that exist inside my head.
Suroshri (in front) & I
More trees and greenery now…
The pic below is of a building which is locked from outside. During my student days, this used to be the PG Library.
Strikes are a perennial feature of Delhi University, especially in the North Campus. This one is of the Library staff demanding salary hikes.
Some inspiring posters…
This poster says in Hindi, “Greatness doesn’t lie in never falling, but in getting up each time you fall.”
Smart, air-conditioned Metro trains have now taken the place of old, rickety, and unreliable U-Specials manned by surly drivers and conductors. (Before the advent of the Metro, there used to be special DTC buses, called U-Specials, exclusively for DU students).
This pic is of the Vishwavidyala Metro Station, which is located on Mall Road, right outside the North Campus.
I do fervently hope that my daughter gets to apply the knowledge she gains from this University and like me, she gets lots of happy memories she can continue to cherish.
What’s wrong with this man with his shoes taken off in a Metro train? Well, not much, on first look.
He appears to be just one of those overworked, ordinary middle-class employees of a private sector organization. This was what I thought too.
But as soon as I settled down on a seat opposite to him, I noticed that he was talking very loudly to himself. I thought he was praying or perhaps he was speaking to someone through a Bluetooth device.
It soon became clear to me, however that he was doing none of these and he had a serious mental problem. He was ranting and cursing everyone, his family, friends, everyone he knew, this country, and even God! Over and over, he kept repeating the same lines which overflowed with venom and hatred for everything in life. He kept saying that he hoped this world ends soon in a nuclear blast and he gets to die like a dog with his body torn into shreds! Even God would want to commit suicide, he kept reiterating. Once in a while, he bent downwards to scratch his toes protruding through his torn socks.
I was horrified and I wondered how people sitting next to him managed to ignore him. See below.
His clothes were clean and well-ironed and he seemed to be from a good family. His choice of words indicated that he was well-educated and read newspapers regularly. What were those circumstances that unhinged him to such a great extent? I could not gather this from what he was saying.
I pitied him, but I could not do anything about it. Unable to put up with him any longer, I moved to another seat far away from him.
But it was clearer to me now what kind of people hurl themselves on the Metro rail tracks.
Delhi Metro, I hope you are reading this. Please keep a close eye on this man and if ever required, save him from himself…