Life in a Metro.. Suicides!!

Kolkata Metros often harass its commuters in various ways… well I should not blame the Metro authority, but rather the commuters who buy tickets, enter the platform and then pounce in front of an incoming metro and finally bring the whole system to a halt! Yes, I am talking about the suicide attempts. Once, my English teacher had expressed, “As it is they are committing a sin, on that they are getting cursed by thousands.”

Yesterday, I had to travel quite a distance for some work and while returning I had plans for some shopping and followed by a meeting. On entering the Metro station of Rabindra Sarovar, I heard whispers that said Metros are out of order. But I furthered in to find out the truth, and there were small groups of people gathered around the ticket counter and an announcement that informed of a suicide in the previous Metro station due to which “Metro porisheba bondho thakbe shimito kaal er jonno”(Metro services will be temporarily unavailable) And the area was full of “Tch, tch” from the irritated passengers. I waited for about 20 minutes, and the “Metro porisheba” was back into action. I hurriedly got up in the first Metro that entered, since I was getting late for the meeting. Getting off on my destination, no sooner than I started running up the stairs, there was another announcement, “Kabi Subhas Metro Station a r ekti suicide er ghotona ghoteche, ae karone Metro porisheba Noapara theke Mahanayak Uttam Kumar porjonto hobe, shimito kaal er jonno.” (Another suicide in Kabi Subhasb Metro station has occurred, due to which Metro services will be available from Noapara station to Mahanayak Uttam Kumar station.) The place was full of annoying “Tchs” and “Uffs”.

Completing my shopping and meeting, I stepped into the Esplanade Metro station around 5:40pm. The platform was unusually crowded, more horrifying was the fact that the expected time for the arriving Metro was blank. I enquired a lady standing near me whether Metros were on time, she gave me a surprised look and asked, “Kyu? Koi problem hua hai kya?” (Why? Has there been a problem?) I narrated my experience to her, and her face lost its colour. A man was eavesdropping into our conversation, and commented, “Uff suicide korar r jayega payena era.. poisa khorcha kore morte ashe.. jottosob.” (They don’t find any other place for committing suicides… spending money to die… disgusting)

Three Metros passed by on the opposite route, while only one overcrowded Metro arrived at our platform, as soon as the doors slid open breathless passengers fell off from within. Some of the commuters waiting, tried to fight their way in while I waited for the next Metro. The successor came another fifteen minutes later. Just before that, a short young man came out of nowhere and stood right in front of my nose. His little tummy protruded from the green t-shirt, his shades were tucked over his forehead, kito shoes, and his chinos were somewhat purplish-brown. The accessory that caught my attention was his belt! It was studded with diamonds of varied shapes that sparkled enough to dazzle you for a moment or two, though some of these precious sparklers had already fallen off. The second Metro arrived honking loudly to announce its arrival and to prevent any further suicides. This guy with an extraordinary sense of fashion expressed his surprise “Mai Gawd… So Kuuul.” I still wondered what was so cool about an overcrowded metro. I had to let go of this train as well. Finally I fought my way into the third metro which arrived at 6:21pm.

About 5 minutes later, a dispute broke out between two female voices, I couldn’t see them but my ears did a good job of listening. One accused the other for pushing her, and not letting her stand comfortable. To this the younger and extremely calm voice replied, “aaarrreee, aami kii apnaakee ichhe koore dhakkaaa mereechi nakii? Bhiiir Metroo te to ektuu touch lagbee ee”

“Motei na, Apnar chul ta amar pithe lagche, kut kut korche, apnar bag ta samle rakhun, ami darate parchina.” Replied an agitated voice

“Kii mushhkiiil aami kibhabe chul kaatbpo setaaoo ki aaapni bole deben naakii? Apnaar naa poshale neme janto.” I couldn’t make out how someone could quarrel so calmly.

“Nambona” replied the older voice firmly.

“Taaholee chechaben naa.. Lokjoon otheo kichu metro te… Uff…”

I wanted to laugh out loud at the tone of her accusation and the way they were quarrelling, but I was hungry, thirsty and energy deprived, hence I could only manage a feeble smile. Seeing my reflection on the black glass window, I felt good. It seemed as if I got recharged like a battery!


Life in a Metro …. 3

It was probably Tuesday, when I got up on the 9:25 am metro and found an empty seat. As I approached it, suddenly the woman beside hugged her bag and said “Sick, sick”. I looked in closely to check whether I mistook a child sitting there for a bag, but no, I was right. There was a big blue backpack over there which she was hugging. Then she clarified, “My friend is sick, she’s on her way into the metro and she needs to sit.” I understood, and remained standing, while some other women around demanded her for this uncanny reservation. Then the friend walked in and glided past me smoothly to the seat reserved by her friend. She didn’t really look sick, and the duo went on gossiping all the way. How can a person so sick keep on talking for 30 minutes?

Day before yesterday there were some technical problems due to which the 9:30 metro left the station at 9:38, causing the crowd to double on the platform and resulting in everybody’s late arrival at their destination. As soon as the next metro doors opened people rushed in like children from a school will during their departure. Somehow I got pushed in and got a place to rest my feet. It was so crowded that I found it difficult to breath, and faced the window all the way to get some air. Had it been an A.C metro I would have surely passed out. Beside me stood a girl of somewhat my age, she didn’t seem like a daily passenger. She clutched onto the rod overhead with both her hands and kept on swinging with every motion of the train. When the metro halted she put all her weight on me with a push from her massive physique. I couldn’t blame her for the situation as there was hardly any place for us to stand in a stable position. When the metro reached Central and Chandni Chawk the crowd evacuated partly and she smile pleasingly at me and stood at a distance resting her arms by her side.

Yesterday the metro gave me yet another cute reason to write. A pretty woman got up with a very sweet, fair and cuddly baby and stood beside me. The baby was quite plump and had round red cheeks ballooned up on the sides of her face. She wore a tiny white frock with red printed designs. Her mother couldn’t carry her in her arms for long due to the crowd, and surprisingly no one offered her a seat. I advised her to ask someone to hold the baby till she got a seat for herself, but the child was adamant she wouldn’t go to anyone else. Naturally after a while the baby began to feel uncomfortable and started to crib and move frantically. Her mother put her down in a very confined space, and there she was gazing up at me with wide open eyes. She needed to hold on to something to keep herself from falling. So with one hand she clutched her mother’s sari and with the other she scratched onto the side of my jeans. She was so tiny; her head was just a few centimeters above my knee. And her attempt to hold onto my jeans tickled me. I wanted to pick her up and kiss her. She was so sweet. Her mother asked a lady in front of her to let her sit with the child but she refused saying that she was not well. The lady beside got up and offered her a seat. She sat there with the cuddly snow white. But little miss cuddly wasn’t comfortable. She was sliding down her mother’s lap every now and then, and at periodicals letting out suppressed cries to announce her discomfort. Her mother guessed it and offered her water. She was so thirsty that she drank almost 250 milliliters of water at a go worrying her mother about her diaper conduct. As soon as the mother tried to put the water bottle away she let out a scream and forced her to provide her more water. Finally a woman standing close by offered her a distraction, a colourful purse. She stared at the purse as long as her mother packed her bag and got up to get down at the upcoming station. While leaving she waved a goodbye with a hearty smile to all her audience.

By LahariBasu Posted in Metro

Life in a metro …. 2

Some more incidents in THE Kolkata Metro caught my attention. As usual in the office time everyone rushes into the coach even if the crowd is thin, thumping on the sides of the doors with their immense bodies and getting stuck midway with one’s bag hanging outside or someone tripping over and getting trampled by the numerous seat hungers; and all these in just 30 seconds, the remaining 1 minute 30 seconds they jostle inside the coach for a stand. I guess people do it instinctively.

So one day in the morning we all pushed and rushed into the metro and grabbed our seats, and once again it was an A.C Metro. Two women jumped onto my both sides squeezing me, there was enough place for only one. Hell what timing! They tried to sit at the same time; they looked at each other simultaneously, and looked away together to the other side where one seat was empty. And both of them ran for it. Together! But unfortunately the drama ended there, one of them got to sit and the other stood there helplessly with a defeated smile on her face. Seeing this sad sight the lady next to me called for the woman standing and offered her to sit in the still only empty seat beside her. The defeated smile turned into a victorious one.

Another day, I got onto the Metro coach a bit late, I did not have to fight to enter, but got a nice place to stand by. I had a friend sitting just in front, so, I could let her hold my bag to release my burden and help me stand light. Little did I know the place I was standing was a danger zone. To my left was the door that would open every 2-5 minutes and let in more and more ‘jostlers’ and to my right was this lady commentator of the whole situation, who was the initial cause of my headache that afternoon. She and her friend were daily passengers, I have seen them many times, but I never knew she spoke so much. Had there been a cricket or football stadium nearby, they would have readily hired her for her god gifted ability of commentary. Every time the doors slid open lots of people fought desperately to enter even though the coach was full. Well, people cannot really help; all of us want to be on time, be it school, college or office. As many people got into the Metro, my neighbor went on and on reading out the situation like a child would babble out a well know poem enthusiastically. She spoke with such fluency and enthusiasm that, I bet she could have been either a commentator or a political leader.

“My my, just look at that man, he came running from that door to this door only to get up. Why can’t they wait for the next Metro?” exclaimed she to her friend.

“She should not try to…… Oh my God! How did she get up? Look she is fighting to enter….”

Not only did she go on commenting but also virtually trying to avoid the rush. I was the one who had to stand firm to face all that rush bravely and protect my fellow women passenger form being affected. But this lady, God knows what was trying to do, kept on elbowing me. Notwithstanding this irritating gesture I told her that there was no need to push me, I was already being pushed from the other side. Silence.

“Oh God! This station is really crowded…. Hey you there, please don’t try to enter we are getting squashed. Nooooo. What are they doing? How can so many people fit into one little coach?….” she went on.

Finally while getting down she asked me “Are you going to get down at Central?”

I said “No”

“Then why have you been standing here near the doorway and tolerating all the rush?” she inquired.

“Because people were already standing everywhere else.” I said calmly. But my inner voice was screaming “Why don’t you just SHUT UP? I have been standing here to not allow you fat people from disabling the others who enter and to allow you to talk non-stop for about God knows how long you have been talking. I can’t take it anymore. Now just get yourself out of here. NOW” While I was preparing this speech she got off thankfully. I knew if she had spoken one more time in front of my ears I would scream all these at her face.

After having encounters with some such talkative persons I have realized how much I hate people who talk nonsense, not just nonsense but also people who talk unnecessarily.

But you know what, it does make me angry then, but later on when I think back these are the thoughts that sometimes make me laugh or bring out topics for my write-ups. So, I think it’s not all bad.

By LahariBasu Posted in Metro

Life in a Metro….

Not the Metropolitan city, but THE Kolkata Metro! It seems as though all the memorable incidents occur in the A.C Metros only. During the rush hour, you may experience not just the rush but also some funny incidents and incomplete quarrels among co-passengers, and also you may get updates on people’s personal lives. One day, as usual, I was late and was waiting for the 9:30 am Metro, the platform was brimming over. As soon as the doors slid open, people rushed into the coach as Impalas would rush out from their enemy!! A bird’s eye view on this incident would be really hilarious. People push each other and swing their arms to prevent anyone else from taking over their desired place, and in all this humdrum, I have to get onto the coach and find myself a comfortable place to stand, if not to sit. But that day I was eventually pushed onto a seat, before I could arrange myself, within a fraction of a second the row was full, and one lady was frantically telling me to move so that she could sit. But before I could move the place was full. But this woman was so determined to sit that she sat on my lap and kept on shouting at me to move further to let her sit. I said that I could not move because the seats were already full but she was adamant, she kept on blaming me for not moving intentionally to keep her standing. At last my patience and etiquette gave up and I screamed back. To my surprise she completely shut up! Then the place was quite, till she started ranting again on a man, complaining that he was climbing up on her! Then again on his rebuff she was quite again. And all these happened in just 2 minutes. Here’s the conversation:-

Woman: “Soro soro, ami boshbo” (Move move, let me sit)

By the time I could move the row was full, so she somehow managed to fit half onto my lap and half into the little space left by the side.

Woman: “arre tumi sorcho ne keno?” (Why aren’t you moving?)

Me: “jayega nei to..” (There’s hardly any space)

Woman: “Tumi e to ichhe kore sorle na….” (You did not move intentionally)

Me: “sorlam na mane? Ami jotokhon a sortam sobai bose porechilo…. AAHH apni uthun amar lagche to..” (What do you mean intentionally? By the time I could move the row was full…. AAHH now get up, you are hurting me) since she was still sitting on my lap with all her weight.

She moved a bit and surprisingly adjusted her large hip in that minute space squeezing the rest of the seven passengers, and she blamed me again..

Woman: “Arre tumi sorle na bolei to ami….” (You did not move, that’s why….)

Me: “WHAT CAN I DO IF THE ROW IS FULL??” I screamed.

She shut up…. for about 30 seconds.

Woman: (to a man standing just in front of her, as his knee touched her leg once) “Arre Dada Apni to amar kole e uthe jachhen..” (Excuse me, mister you are almost getting on my lap!)

The petrified man moved away to escape from her unconventional wrath.

She kept on and on poking him, at last his patience gave away too and he snapped back,

Man: “Ami motei apnar kole uthe porini.. Bar bar ek e kotha bolben nato.” (I haven’t got on your lap, stop ranting on rubbish)

She was quiet again..

The whole journey all the other women were sitting compressed and were cursing her inaudibly I guess. Half way through the journey, she was to get down at Chadni Chawk. Since many people get down there they have to get ready before hand or else they may stay behind in the metro. So she got up at Mahatma Gandhi Road, 2 stations before her stop. And due to the highly congested condition she could not proceed successfully towards the door, so she chose her obvious weapon- Offence. A young man standing with his huge laptop bag struggled to provide as much room possible to her to move out, but she said “Aree apni sorun nahole to ami berote parbo na.” (Please move or else I cannot get down on my station) He moved as per the congestion permitted.

But SHE was she, “arre apnar bag ta soran na…” (Why don’t you move your bag..)

The man said, “Ami to soralam er theke beshi jayega nei…” (I moved as per the space, there is not more space here)

“Uff, amar paa atke geche, apni bag sorachhen na bole ami berote parchina…” defended the woman. (My leg got stuck here, just because of your bag I cannot get out of this place)

The perplexed man said, “Apnar paa akte geche to seta ki amar bag er dosh??” (How come my bag is responsible for your stuck leg?)

May be she gave an angry look or whatever, which ignited the man to spit out “Apni ki barite o apnar husband r cheler shonge ebhabe kotha bolen naki?” (Do you talk in the same manner at home with your husband and son?)

She became even more angry, “Amar chele apnar theke onek bhodro..” (My son is much more gentle than you are..)

“Ha ta to dekhte e pachi..” said the man sarcastically. (Yes that is evident..)

And so went on the dispute; to the spectators’ surprise she kept on screaming and shouting even when her station had arrived and the doors have opened. She finished her speech and then got out gracefully, or so according to a girl standing in front of me, who watched the complete outrageous comedy show! Well, as soon as she was out, everybody nearby seemed to sigh peacefully. And I was told not to let anyone else sit in that fine space which she had strangely acquired for so long. So the rest of the journey was comfortable and full of criticism of that podgy woman who always tied a top knot and wore her sari tightly wrapped around her waist and clutched at her large bag strongly, and finally appeared as the stereotype image of a quarrelsome woman!

I have seen her a few times later in that same timely metro when I got late, and almost every day she had to break out in a dispute with someone. Seems like a habit. And I have to admit she does have a lot of energy to keep going.

By LahariBasu Posted in Metro