The Cal metro started running from Tollygunge to Dum Dum in twenty five minutes, when I was in middle school.We would show it off to our out-of-town cousins, taking them on back-n-forth ride from Tollygunge.
The well-spaced-out recorded messages in a charming feminine voice in Hindi, English and Bangla and the approaching hint of a flickering light down the tracks, to assure the approach of a train- were the same when I first took the Delhi metro. With a friend. To get down at Chauri Bazaar.
And later to Janakpuri, down the western route, in a crowded metro. This was novel though.The intersecting routes. The touch your coupon to open the gates funda. And recently to Dwarka, Sector 9. A forty-five minute metro ride. Partly spent leaning over a diminutive-I-don't-fuck-obviously-migrant woman. With glazed glass bangles. And rib-bones peeping out from in between safety-pins guarding her cleavage. Next to her, chattering, were Banya women in fluorescent pink/green/sequiny synthetic-cotton saris. And mehendi hands. And pallus pulled over their heads. The lone man on the Ladies Seats, with a gaze frozen at an indeterminate point on the X-axis of the door.
Something about Ladies Seats. I thought. Giggling women personalising bits and chunks of public spaces. Maybe Jat constables and auto-drivers personalise an overwhelmed-in-sugar-chai-joint the same way. Creating a minute comfort zone. Maybe public spaces are just that. A jumble of personalised comfort-zones enmeshed together. The way the giggling women and the Jat constable and the Call-centre couple live different lives and laughs everyday. In the same geography.