Feb 26, 2009

Dilli-420 | New Delhi Old Heart

No offense to Delhi lovers, but what's written below accounts for my dislike towards the city. I was stuck in Delhi with a friend in Summer 2007 and here's a brief summary ..

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P(read"F")art -1 The Station Master

It was around 12 noon and Delhi was boiling at over 44 degrees. We were at railway station to catch a train to Mumbai. We were surprised when the train didn't come 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure as it was supposed to start from Delhi. As usual, we figured that there was a wrong display of platform no. at the station entry. So, the next 10 minutes went in to running here and there. The huge Delhi station added miles in to the heated run. End Result: Missed the train.

Now enters the first hero of my story; The Station Master !

I went and asked him why was there no announcement of the shift in platform no. He said there was. It came out that there was something wrong with the speakers at that platform. I argued, but only to discover the "Kaala bandar" hitting back with no solid defense, but with agony.

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Fart 2 - The Fasttrack guy


Imagine yourself stranded outside the station looking for black tickets with overhead sun. And then imagine this irritating character pouncing on you and trying to sell(force) an "original" Fasttrack goggle at 200 Rs. The guy kept scratching the goggle to make us believe that the shine and the silver color won't go. To his surprise and a rare laugh for us, the color was all gone. As they say, sometimes you are the pigeon and sometimes, the statue !
Well this one ended in a not-so-bad way.

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Fart 3 - The ugly Agent

"Sir, you look like you are 28, and your friend looks like 30; here are two tickets to Mumbai (Swaraj Express), 2500 per ticket", said the ugly stranger. As if it was written on our faces that we missed our train, and that too, for Mumbai !!
I ignored him, but only to attract more beautiful agents. All of them somehow had tickets for Mumbai and strangely for the same age group (28-30).
I decided not to take any risk and chose to go by flight.

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Fart 4 - The Laid back Dude !!

Next to Delhi station are many small offices for ticket booking. We entered one. Scene: The laid back dude (5 ft - 2", max) with his legs on the table, table fan a feet away, wearing 3-4 fake golden chains and chewing paan, sPRays "Aaiye Sir".
I asked if he can immediately book two tickets to Mumbai. I had a budget of 4k in mind. He phoned somebody and said it will cost 3300 per ticket. I was more than happy with the price. But still I inquired why was it so cheap. He explained that international flights to Mumbai (Delhi bound) have cheaper tickets. I smelled a rat.

I said, we only have 6000 Rs, and he immediately said "Ok" !! Without getting too much in to details i agreed to pay to get over with the head ache.

But, it's THE bad day, how can anything go right ? Apparently there was some terror threat at the airport and nobody was allowed to travel without an i-card. I had, but to add up to this sad story, my friend didn't. And then comes the famous melodramatic friendship dialogue "Dost, tu mujhe is tarah akela chod kar to nahi jaega na".

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Fart 5 - The real story

We came out of the shop and started walking, looking for a roadways agent as I had decided to go to Kota (my hometown) by bus and asked my friend to come with me for a few days. We ran in to a genuine flight booking agency which was around 20 meters away. I felt like checking once again for tickets without i-card, thinking may be the dude was wrong. We entered the shop and asked the well dressed guy for 2 tickets to Mumbai. We also said that we don't have i-cards.

"Are you Vinay?", he asked. For a moment, I thought the heat was doing its job... how is it possible ? .. you step out of the station and people know you missed the train to mumbai, you meet an agent and he tells you your name !!

We nodded in total paranoia. Actually, the dude had called him for tickets and given him the details. He had told the dude about i-card problem. For a moment, i praised the dude for his shrewdness, 20 meters away, but he won't tell you. Out of curiosity i asked for the price and it was 2800 Rs per ticket ..

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Fart 6 - The Gujjars

The famous political revolt by this over-pampered section had just started in Rajasthan. They burned the buses, damaged the railway tracks and what not. The "what not" was also a lot of things but the two i just mentioned added to my sorrow. I can not choose to go by bus to home and i can not choose to go by train to Mumbai as the Delhi-Mumbai train route has a considerable part in Rajasthan. So i and my friend stayed at his uncle's home in Delhi for the night

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Fart 7 - The babu

Next morning, I was checking out the headlines on TV. It said that the gujjar protests were over. I was delighted and rushed to station to take the first train to Kota. Train was scheduled at 1:30 pm. I reached there by 11:30 to make sure i get the tickets.
"Come at 12:30", said the Babu. I argued that one can book tickets for current reservation 2 hours before the train time. He made a frustrated face and uttered something which i am pretty sure was abuse.

Well, what could i have done, he was the guy with tickets. I asked him if there will be a rush at 12:30, he said no. I went for lunch.
At least 20 people were in the line and then the only aim was to somehow get tickets before 1:25 pm.

Thank god my number came at 1:10, but here comes the Babu twist. I gave him a 500 Rs note and he said i gave him 100. We argued for 2 minutes, only to upset others in the queue. People started shouting from behind. After much brawl, he decided to count all the money and tally it with his screen data. Now, that means counting all 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, 1 Rs notes and coins which he was collecting from morning. Those were the longest 10 minutes of my life. I just thank god that some people were supporting me as they saw me giving him a 500 Rs note. Finally he accepted and gave me my money back. With 5 minutes to spare, i just ran through to catch my train .. finally thinking .. home, sweet home.

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Fart 8 - Nadeem and the Gujjars reloaded


The train is named Janshatabdi, an all seating train from Delhi-Kota and back. The Gujjar protests were over and the train had just arrived at Delhi from Kota. It waits for around 30 minutes and then goes back. Happily, i boarded and also met a friendly guy, Nadeem, who later said that he was behind in the queue and just managed to catch the train.

Mathura had just crossed and train stopped. It was raining heat and we were stranded for 30 minutes. And, it was the Gujjars again, they allowed the train to come to Delhi so I can board and then started the protests again for God knows what reasons !!

We came to know that the "SUPERFAST" Junta express was coming to the rescue for Janshatabdi passangers. I just hated that train so i and nadeem decided to go back to Delhi via road. We got down, and went to the nearby village to find out if there was some bus service. But, the village was so remote that there wasn't even an STD there. Of course, there was no signal in out mobiles also.

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Fart 9 - The Neta


Drenched in sweat we came back, waiting for Junta express. And more, Junta was supposed to drop us at Mathura and not Delhi. All the passengers got really angry after reaching Mathura.

Whenever there is a group of people, in confusion and misery, there is a Neta to the rescue. "Janshatabdi Kota passengers, nahi hatenge nahi hatenge", shouted a bunch of guys with the Neta at the center. They had blocked the Station Master's office and demanded reimbursement.

We decided to go back to Delhi as the ticket was anyways cheap. I will not get in to the details of how we managed to get the bus. To simply put it in short, it was as bad as the Mumbai Local train.

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Fart 10 - Night-out at Airport


I was in the bus. My phone rang and it was my dear friend who had asked me to stay in Delhi as he didn't have an i-card. He was calling from Mumbai !!! In morning he had said that he will try to reach Mumbai somehow and had asked me to go home. Apparently, his uncle arranged for air tickets. I was feeling dead jealous.

Anyways, it was 12 in the night when i reached Delhi. Nadeem had a friend in Delhi and he left for his home. I planned to take a ticket in some international Delhi bound flight to Mumbai. They were cheap and many late night flights usually have empty seats.

I arrived at the airport and found out the counter to get such tickets. After having gone through so much, i was in a shock proof mind-set. What can possibly go wrong now?

Great timing !! .. i reached the counter and the guy was pasting a notice on his window, "All tickets to Mumbai are sold". *SLAP ON THE FACE*

Next flight was at 10 in the morning. I felt like Tom Hanks from "The Terminal", only outside the airport. I had no option, but a night-out ! ... I finally came back to Mumbai the next day. Horror ! .. wasn't it ?

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There are many other heroes who didn't get a break in this Beta version of Delhi-420. The auto-wala, bus conductor, taxi-wala etc.

Update (August 24): Don't miss this: http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/nation/it-s-a-city-of-undeserved-privilege

PS: Dilli-6 was the reason i wrote all this. The torture at the climax of the movie was reminiscent of my Delhi horror

5 Comments:

Narbhaksh! said...

call for sympathy.... :)

aj said...

Delhi is amazing,Delhi kicks ass,Delhi roxx the soxx baby......HELL YEAH!

I had the worst experience in Mumbai in December of 2006.Just to give a hint,I almost got behind the bars by an asshole corrupt policeman.Will write about it sometime soon.
Problems with situations is less terrifying than problems with people!

Kshitij said...

I love Delhi.... But I equally love your post.

Vinay said...

hehe..

Apparently intellectual said...

god..this day was really terrible..
sorry for such a bad treatment delhivalahs gave to u..