How I Managed to Give the Massive Gurgaon Traffic Jam a Miss!

I called home before boarding my flight at Dehradoon. It was July 28, 2016. My husband said there has been a heavy shower in Gurgaon and the likelihood was strong that I would get stuck in a traffic jam. At least my flight was on time. Little did I know that the massive Gurgaon Traffic Jam would be waiting for me!

When the aircraft was about to land at T3, I clicked the picture of NH 8 and it didn’t look good at all. After I got my baggage from the belt, I clicked the OLA App and to my surprise there was not a single taxi of any category available at T3. That was a first! Normally there is hardly a one minute wait and you get all kinds of taxis easily. When I came out the Meru and Mega taxi queues were going back into the terminal.

Now I had two options- to stand in the loooooooooooong Meru Cab line or to take the metro. However if I took the metro to Gurgaon, someone would have to pick me up from the metro station because it was getting late at night. Once again I called home and told them there were no taxis at T3.

Then the debate started- whether I should try to come to Gurgaon or should I go to my sister’s place in Ghaziabad? I was confused for about a span of five minutes. When I called my sisters she happily said that she would pick me up from the metro station if I decided to head her way. The minute my nephew (also known as Brat 2) told me it took him 3 hours to come home from work, I decided I would go to my sister’s place.

airport-express-line
The Airport Express Line was the Savior!

I took the airport metro line to Dwarka Sector 21 and then the blue line to my sister’s place. The metro was not crowded at all. Only at Rajiv Chowk the ladies’ coach got full. It emptied out again much before my stop.

I had started from Landour, and on top of that I have to take avomine because I have motion sickness on the mountain roads. After I sat beside my sister in her car, I was happy, I could finally relax and leave the thinking to her.

We reached home quickly and I was good to be at home. It was only after I started looking at the Facebook updates of friends who stay in Gurgaon, I realized what a massive traffic jam it was! I was lucky I escaped it by taking the metro and giving Gurgaon a miss altogether.

How I wish we would improve our infrastructure. How I wish we were not prone to such massive water logging. In fact while I was working I never enjoyed the rainy season, it is only after quitting my job I have started enjoying the rains. Earlier rains were synonymous with traffic jams. Now at least I have an option of giving them a miss!

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However, much time I spend at my sister’s place, it always feels way too less. I was particularly tired today and I was not looking forward to the more than two hour Delhi Metro journey back home. As usual in my zombie mode, I crossed the barrier at the Vaishali Metro Station. I had a strolly and a handbag. Whenever I go to my sister’s place it is prudent to carry one because she always gives me way too many things to carry home!

I suddenly heard a mother calling out loud, “Hey come back, give me the card or else how would I get in?” The person she was calling out loud was this high, not more than my knee! She simply went under the barrier and walked off on the other side with the card! She was blissfully unaware that she was creating a ruskuss! She started running away towards the stairs, her mother looked on helplessly, still calling out loud and pleading.

Metro-Delhi-Metro
Delhi Metro Tales!

I decided to take the matters in my hand. I left my strolly for a short while and I scooped up the kid. She was as light as a feather! For a while she was surprised and kept quiet while I started walking back to her mother.

Then I remembered my strolly. I didn’t wish it to vanish while I was busy with the child as apart from a few new dresses it had my laptop and my camera as well! So, I had a child in one hand and now a strolly in another.

When I reached the barrier I took the card from the kid’s hand and gave it to the mother. That proved to be my undoing. The kid went into the ferocious mode. She reached out with her little hands and started pulling my hairs. Once again I would not even feel the tug, but I had to put in a mock protest! By this time her mother was on the right side of the barrier and I deposited the howling and hair pulling baby to her safely.  I cannot remember when I laughed so much while simply boarding a metro train! It is incidents like these that make the journey so much fun.

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This long weekend I am staying at my sister’s place. The chance encounter I am referring to, happened in the Delhi Metro. I was boarding it from MG Road station. I hardly ever get into a scuffle for a seat but then I am also human. Today I got into one such scuffle and being more agile I captured the seat. I am not proud of the fact at all. The lady whom I edged out was naturally not pleased. She protested, “you pushed me” to which I truthfully replied that I did not. I had only put my luggage in her way. I repeat I am not proud of what I did. This is extremely unusual behavior on my part. I also scolded myself for indulging in it, but what was done was done.

While the two of us were at it, I heard a male voice saying, “I am sorry it is my fault. You tripped over my feet.” I was first quite taken aback as I was in the ladies coach. I took a sharp breath and looked at the voice, but in that instant I realized he was visually impaired.

visually-impaired-delhi-metro
A Chance Encounter

The metro moved and we moved on. I started fiddling with my cell phone to get over my embarrassment. The person next to me started dozing off. The lady with whom I entered into a scuffle got down at a nearby station. After a while the gentleman next to me said, “I hope you were not hurt,” to which I said, “no I was not, not at all.”

Then we started chatting. I can’t remember what broke the ice but I told him that as my brother-in-law is wheelchair bound, I am used to people with disabilities. He said, “maybe that is why you were not too surprised by my presence.”

Amrit Hallan
Amrit, Alka and Vausdha

He then inquired, “Since when is your brother-in-law has been wheelchair bound?” I told him it was since birth. I added “it is a love marriage between him and my sister, they met online! They now have a daughter”, my bratty niece Vasudha.

He then mentioned that being visually impaired, his parents were initially quite protective about him. But gradually they told him, if he wanted to study more he would have to travel on his own. By now everyone in the vicinity was openly listening to our conversation. He then told me many times he has dozed off in a bus or metro and then turned back again to reach his destination. His parents were now used to the fact and if he was late they assumed that he would have slept!

I complimented him on his traveling alone, to which he said that he was in the ladies coach because it was easy to get assistance in that coach from the metro attendants at his destination. He works as an assistant manager in Dena Bank. I told him my brother-in-law runs his own content writing business.

I briefly told him that when I traveled abroad, particularly UK, I saw so many people in public life using wheelchairs. We talked about accessibility in India. He said, “I take buses frequently and if I have to cross the road, I have to literally shout and say to people passing by that I need help.” I told him that my brother-in-law uses a power wheelchair so no one needs to push the wheelchair for him. That itself attracts so much attention.”

Within no time, I reached my designated stop, Rajiv Chowk. I said bye to him and wished him luck. True to my form I did not ask his name! It was such a chance encounter, I can’t remember when I talked for so long with a total stranger.

PS. Note to self, do not get into a scuffle for a seat again, ever.

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Whenever I have to go to Delhi, I take the metro. To reach the nearest metro station I have to take an auto. So this is a tale of going to the city, with a little bit of sky thrown in and hence the name ‘Sky and the City!’ I feel so clever today. The story starts with the non-sky bit at the Chhatarpur Metro Station where I was waiting for an arranged pickup to arrive.

auto-rickshaw
An Auto Rickshaw with a Slogan

At the bus stop was this autorickshaw with the common ‘buri nazar wale’ sign. I liked the colors and clicked a picture. The auto driver came out and asked me about it (politely), so I showed him the picture. He then asked what would I do with it? I told him that I clicked it because I liked the colors. He waited for a while, got a few passengers and was about to move off. But then he came towards me and said with folded hands, “ma’am don’t lodge a complaint against me!”

That really left me almost speechless. I told him I clicked the picture only because I like the colors and there was nothing more to it. He moved on and I moved on, but this is a story that refuses to move on from my mind!

I could not figure out what was he afraid of? He was standing near a bus stand but so where scores of other autos, causing the traffic to slow down, almost creating a jam. But he was not alone. He was taking three people in auto but I noticed that other autos too were plying on shared basis and it seemed like a common practice near this metro station. But it was a little reassuring as well to see him scared just because I took a harmless picture! Maybe all is not lost for this city?

no-valentine
No Valentine Day? I mean Really

Moving on to the next story, you can see a bright washed out sky in this picture but I clicked it more for the city than the sky. It is a poster that says 14th February should not be celebrated as St. Valentine’s Day in India but as a day when you worship your parents! It really left me speechless for a while, I mean really? We are the land of 3K as well, Khajuraho, Konark and Kamasutra! Do we really need to shy away from the Valentine’s Day as it is against culture? If you wish to replace it I would say replace it with a Khajuraho Day! I could have replaced Khajuraho with another K but then my students read my blog as well, and that is a strong filter for me to decide what I want to say.

metro-sunset
A Metro Sunset

Finally, here is a bit of sky too, when you had almost given hope. I love it when I get to see the sun going down at a metro station. The setting has so many leading lines, arches and color, all of which make for a good picture. Only, photography is banned at the metro stations, don’t ask me why. I just took a quick cell phone shot and walked off. It marked the end of an eventful day but not before I got a maniac for an auto driver before I reached home.

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