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The Delhi Metro

Published on October 15, 2006, by in Delhi, India, Trains.

800px-delhi_metroThis modern transit system (Delhi Metro Wikipedia entry) is a hugely refreshing surprise. It’s also a bit humbling. I don’t know a single city in all the USA that has anything of this size and quality even under discussion . . . and Delhi’s system here is almost 90% complete. See the Delhi Metro web site.

And here’s a photo gallery that shows how modern, clean and comfortable the Metro system is in this “impoverished, third-world” country. 

Of course, we are speaking about a brand new, still under construction, region-wide rail system that probably will cost a few billions dollars before it’s completed . . . but still, it instantly makes the point that most metro systems in the USA are old, tired and obsolete.

The Delhi Metro also says a lot about how well the government of India is preparing the country to be important and effective in the 21st Century. Meanwhile, here in the USA, in the midst of a stupid, illegal, war that is wasting billions of dollars *per week* !!!, the George Bush / Dick Cheney government gives special tax breaks to make sure that hundreds of billions of dollars are not collected from the wealthiest 1% of our population.

OK, OK, OK . . . the Delhi Metro . . . help me down off this soap box and I’ll continue . . .

I only had part of an afternoon on my last day before leaving Delhi, so I chose to ride all of Lines l and Line ll but only as much of Line lll as was needed to get me there and back to the first two lines. My hotel was only a two-block walk from the Rajendra Place station on Line lll.

Lines l and lll are above mostly about 30 feet above ground on massive concrete columns that run down the center of wide streets. Those arteries are so well able to integrate the overhead that I suspect that an astute and far-seeing urban planner, anticipated that rails would run down the center.

Only the ticket selling system is faulty. To purchase a day-tripper that allows unlimited use on the same calendar day, I had to stand in line to make the purchase from a clerk *and* post a 70 rupee “bond,” above the value of the ticket. The extra money is refundable when you return your pass to a similar window in any station. The clerk was not able to explain the purpose of the 70 rupees or what abuse the bond was supposed to discourage.

Another drawback in that system is that standing in line almost anywhere in India exposed me to rude, pushy women, generally older ones, who simply pushed their way in ahead of me. My first experience with it was at this station. After a moment of shock, I pushed back, literally shoving her aside, and told her exactly what I would have said to anyone in Manhattan, “get the fuck out of my way you rude witch, go to the end of the line, etc.”

My outburst drew laughter from a few young men behind me. I think they were both embarrassed and pleased that someone from outside the culture was able to confront her, something they seemed to be constrained from doing.

I encountered this same pushiness in other locations and dealt with it the same way. I never did see it done to anyone else. Maybe older Indian women are expressing some political attitude to fat old westerners. I don’t know.

There is a small mystery on the Delhi Metro web site. One of the press releases speaks at length about the construction of “extradosed” bridges; no explanation; just jargon intended only for the cognoscenti.

Google and Wikipedia to the rescue! See this link and then, for an alternate explanation, plus a clickable photo of one of the Delhi Metro Line lll stations, see this. Scrolll down the WikiPedia page for a discussion of the Delhi Metro’s use of the form and a photo added only a few weeks ago.

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