When children work for their daily bread, they inevitably lose their child-like innocence and spontaneity, don’t they?
On 31 March 2019, however, on my way home from work in the Delhi Metro, I was happy to find an exception. See the photo below.
This child worked and played at the same time. He was cool and confident while selling children’s puzzle books and toys. He didn’t sound desperate, and he managed to make some quick sales within those 30 minutes he spent inside the Metro’s ladies’ compartment.
While the girls looked at all the different options available and tried to make a choice, the boy swinged himself in a carefree manner on the metro railings on top. Just like any other normal child free to dream and play whenever he wanted.
May God bless this kid. I hope and pray that he grows up to be a successful and happy adult…
Here are some more pics…
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…
Delhi Metro is one of the many things that we Dilliwalahs are absolutely proud of. It has given us so much to be grateful for. Our hopes, dreams, and aspirations revolve around it and each time, a new track is added, it helps us breathe easier and adds to our confidence and trust in our nation as common citizens.
Way back in 1997, when I travelled around in the U.S. during a company-sponsored training program, I never imagined in my wildest of dreams that one day those air-conditioned trains and gleaming marble floors of a Metro station would exist in my own country too.
On 29 May 2018, at 6 AM, Delhi Metro’s much-talked-about Magenta Line from Janakpuri West to Haus Khas was thrown open to public. People like me from this part of Delhi who used to catch the Yellow line to their offices in Gurgaon from Rajiv Chowk earlier can now catch it from Hauz Khas, with travelling time reduced to half.
I took my debut ride in the Magenta Line on the following day on 30th as 29th was my day off. The station premises had swanky, cool interiors with marble floors all through, a far improved version of metro stations built earlier. Being new, the floor was still very slippery. I was glad that I chose flat black shoes over heeled ones. All the Magenta line indicators had magenta patches on them. The marigold flowers and mango leaves draped all over the place during inauguration on the previous day still looked happily fresh.
It took me three long, steep escalator rides deep into the earth’s belly to reach the platform. It has been said that they are India’s longest.
People stood in orderly queues and quietly moved into the train once it arrived. That was another pleasant change from what one normally encounters at Rajiv Chowk Metro station.
Here are some pics clicked during the excitement of my first ride in the Mageta Line.
In 2006, my life turned completely upside down. Nothing seemed to work. It was during this tough phase that I wrote my poem ‘The Delhi Metro.’ I had no idea why I wrote what I wrote and what I was going to do about it. It was just a spontaneous expression of hope, strength, and courage to carry on and I felt light after writing it. The idea of getting it published some day never occurred to me and I wasn’t even sure whether it had any literary value at all.
When I showed the hand-written poem to my husband, he thought it was ‘nice’ and suggested some minor changes.
I subsequently uploaded the corrected poem on Poemhunter.com because every poem has a life and a destiny of its own. A day or two later, everything became as usual and I forgot all about the poem. Like me, the poem too wandered in the wilderness.
In 2012, however, six years later, Connie Robertson, an editor from OUP (Oxford University Press), UK, picked it up and chose it for inclusion in one of their upcoming textbooks! I still think I was a poetic Cinderella that a Fairy Godmother launched into the publishing world. Why else would a world-famous, prestigious publisher like OUP wish to engage with me, an obscure writer living in a poor country like India, doing a job that had nothing to do with writing, publishing, or poetry.
Connie’s first message to me was through Poemhunter as she didn’t have my email id. She requested me for “non-exclusive rights to OUP to publish my 60-line poem ‘The Delhi Metro.”
My first impulse was to count the number of lines. Yes, it was 60 alright, but I still had my apprehensions.
In my reply, I asked her to explain what she meant by “non-exclusive rights” because the idea of giving any kind of rights whatsoever, as far as I was concerned, felt like giving up a baby forever; a very painful thing, not something I could imagine myself doing.
Connie’s response was, “By non-exclusive rights, we mean that
a. You retain the copyright and you have full freedom to get the poem published elsewhere.
b. By allowing us to publish the poem, you will get the opportunity to show off your baby to the whole world.”
I was really touched after reading this. About 6 months later, OUP sent £200 into my bank account through RTGS and an author’s copy of the book at my residence through courier. I still have the courier packet as a momento…
I recently came across a very cute newly-married married couple in a Delhi Metro train. While they smiled, laughed, kissed and hugged each other in gay abandon right in front of my amused eyes, they reminded me of the newly-married couple in my poem ‘Delhi Metro,’ completly immersed in each other’s company. I could feel the dreamy, magical aura they created around themselves and I gave in to the strong temptation to freeze those ecstatic moments forever by clicking their photograph. They are now the hero and the heroine of this poem on Poemhunter. Here is the link:
Only Time will tell how this poem will lead its life in future.
Copyright: Jasbir Chatterjee
My latest poem on Poemhunter.com today, ‘The World Beyond’ is inspired from my pics given below. Click here and read on.
I think even God sometimes runs short of new ideas and uses existing models while creating humans. How else would you explain the phenomenon of existence of human lookalikes who have no other connection whatsoever with each other?
We get an idea about this only when Fate and Destiny get into a naughty mood and bring the two lookalikes together through a strange coincidence.
Here’s a true story…
A few days ago, a girl in a pink T-shirt and dark blue jeans sat in a Delhi metro train right opposite to me with ear plugs in her ears, engrossed with her mobile phone.
About two or three stops later, another girl came in and sat beside her. The first girl continued doing what she was doing and a couple of seconds later, the second girl also became similarly hooked to her cellphone. But she did one additional thing. She took out her sun glasses next and placed them on her eyes. It was probably a style statement, as she was sitting inside an airconditioned compartment and sunshades were not required.
The two girls remained completely oblivious to each other throughout the journey, but I, an amazed observer, noticed that not only did they have a close resemblance to each other , they were also similarly dressed.
Well, I also kept myself busy by clicking lots of photos of the strange drama called ‘Coincidence’ that God and his two mischievous kids Fate and Destiny played out in front of me that day…
When I came out of the train, a funny thought came to me. Where is my lookalike at this moment? Is she okay?
Here are some more pics…