Monday, April 21, 2008

Under- vs overground

The Delhi metro is a contrast with the life outside.

Inside, you have one of the best designed rails I had the pleasure to visit. Clean and wide wagons, with accordion connections between the sections. It rides quickly and in silence, in a tunnel of clean and conditioned air. No expense was spared, apparently. You enter by touching a RFID token to the gate's color screen.

Outside, it's grimy, noisy, and approximate. Entire building are put together hasardly, out of found material, and didn't see any maintenance for decades. The tailors work his sewing machine on the street floor, down in the third-word crouch. It reeks of poverty and hardship. Outside, I can't stop walking and rest. If I try, the tuktuk driver, shop keepers and beggars latch onto me and I have to resume walking to loose them. I usually retreat to the metro.

At the train station, a gentlemen ask to see my train ticket. He wears a name tag suitable for a Walmart employee and clothes taken from the same rack as the rest of the men of the city, except that they match, so it is a uniform. As he inspect my ticket, I analyze his behavior, checking for hints that he his a conman. The institution struggles to look official, but they cannot afford it. They can't even construct themselves a booth.

I saw two grown men holding each other's hand as they tentatively embarked on the first escalator ride of their life. I wish for the Delhi people that one day they will afford a city as nice as their metro.

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