Travel Spy

Shah Jehan with Angel musicians
Shah Jehan with Angel musicians (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Badal Kar faqiron ka bhes “Ghalib
Hum Tamaasha-e-Ahle-Karam Dekhte Hain.”

When I was younger I worked for a newspaper. Over years of reporting I got sick of the regular news beat and somehow convinced my editor to give me the assignment of a roving spy on Delhi buses. I would take a bus let us see from INA to India Gate or even ISBT and just sit down and listen. I listened to the taunts and jibes of the people on the bus. There political comments amongst themselves and their abominal use of the English language. It became a very popular column and many people copied the idea and did it for their newspapers.

Now as the roving custodian of my father’s properties I leave aside one day to roam the NCR on the Metro Rail. This way I keep in tune with the people. Over the years I have observed the gradual acclimatisation of the common people to the metro rail. At first the common man, the poor man was wary of the portals of the Metro regarding it as a foible of the rich. Now I see the democratisation of its use. Everyone uses it from the rich to the very poor beggar.

A certain behaviour inside the metro has become developed amongst the people. A non staring gaze at the fixtures of the insides is a gesture of politeness towards your looks and your behaviour. The amorousness of couples inside the train is increasing. Last night on my way back from a drink with a friend in a five star hotel I sat transfixed as a couple licked, kissed and fondled each other in the corner of our coach in utter ignorance of other people’s presence. I was like seeing a young pair of dogs play with enthusiasm on the roadside as a preliminary to some serious mating. Young men stared unashamedly at the couple while the women and older men stared away. It was uncomfortable while it lasted and everyone heaved a sigh of relief when they got off at AIIMS.

The metro demographics are changing. I watched with amusement and pride the four friends obviously from a software company who were engaged in solving an office problem while they travelled. They sat facing each other and did a brain storming which showed to me why our boys and girls are so brilliant in the world of Information, Telecommunications and Internet Technology.

On the other hand was the young man with a Shah Jehan beard dressed all in black. He was thin as a reed and obviously high on something. I could not determine whether it was on God or a drug. I was sitting down, I must admit in a very expensive Armani suit with patent leather shoes shined to a mirror finish. He took an offence to my rich look and stood in front of me and just stared at me. I was not looking for a fight. I did not look back in to his eyes. He wanted to provoke me into a fight. I am not afraid of a scrap. I am a black belt in Judo and have a solid muscular body which is not an accident of birth but a result of some working out in the gym and The Chawl swimming pool. I am sure I can take care of myself otherwise I would not ride the Metro wearing Armani suits. I breathed in and out gently and long in order to cool my slowly heating brain. Finally four stations later the modern version of a Sufi saint got off my coach and I sat back and relaxed.