Saturday, 18 December 2010

Life in a metro


I never associated myself with a metropolis. I come from a small town in central India, where you could sweep the entire ambit with just a bicycle. Usually such small towns are remote and devoid of many privileges that a nearby city offers. But ours was more fortunate. Due to the presence of army cant, our town could afford to have fancy stores, nice restaurants, and big brands. At the same time it was peaceful and tranquil.

The southern outskirts of the town, beyond the Army War College, were enveloped in lush greenery. The woods used to flourish in full bloom in the month of August, which was when monsoon drenched the town with showers. The air was damp and environment tranquil, it was nothing short of paradise. It was in some of the sporadically scattered ghettos in these woods on which our family business thrived. We used to offer consultancy and help to illiterate villagers who wanted to apply for various rural development schemes of the government.

My father was always short of hands and I used to offer one, I filled up forms in lieu of a hefty pocket money. I knew nothing beyond this town, I didn’t need to, it offered everything one could ask for. But after high school I was confronted with the prospect of making a career. Everyone around me was studying something extra apart from school books. They joined various coaching institutes and read bulky books. There was enormous pressure on me and I conformed. I too joined a good coaching. I was not more than an average student. With whatever I had, I managed to get admission in a reputed college in nearby city.

And finally my average academics landed me a job in this metropolitan. It had its own pace, which was very fast for a rustic like me. Huge vehicles moved with incredible pace; people walked around in a hasty manner and usually treated each other as inanimate objects which was the only option given the crowded streets and public transports; you couldn’t see many stores, people usually bought from malls; trains were the veins of this city, they were fast and had an elaborate network.

In fact trains were the only option for large distances since roads were frequently blocked due to traffic jams. Railway stations were built every two kilometers or so. Typically on a railway station a train would come every five minutes. On larger junctions, the frequency could be double or even triple. As soon as a train halted, cohort of people will alight and board in a very small window of time since a train would halt for not more than thirty seconds. Needless to say they were overly crowded, working class commuters filled every inch of it. And it ran with unrelenting pace, in fact no one was allowed to walk near railway lines because speed of these trains tested quickest of reflexes.

I had no qualms about this metropolis. I had adjusted to its idiosyncrasies in my own way. I rented an apartment in suburbs which was at a distance from bustle of the city, I would rise early in the morning and stay in the office till late, that saved me from burgeoning crowd. The suburb was actually a small village around which I had built pretty much of my metropolitan life.

One frosty night, one of the trains, which enormously contributed to the identity of this metropolis, ran over four pedestrians trying to make their way across the railway line. Before they could get out of the way, the magnitude and intensity of this beast unnerved them.

The metropolis somehow lived with the loss of few of its inhabitants. Its daily chores resumed next day. It couldn’t stop; it was carrying too much responsibility for that matter. But in its heart, it must’ve felt grief for such a loss, for a brief moment though.