Life in a Metro

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In 10 years, the Delhi Metro has altered landscapes and fortunes. In 10 years, the Delhi Metro has altered landscapes and fortunes.
SummaryIn 10 years, the Delhi Metro has altered landscapes and fortunes.

brother, who is visiting Delhi for the first time, around the Metro Museum, which was inaugurated in 2008 and documents the Metro’s history through display panels. For him, it’s a must-visit along with the Qutab Minar and Red Fort.

Also at the Museum, housed in the Patel Chowk station, is Pooja, who has come from Badarpur to catch up with a friend and go shopping at Lajpat Nagar — all through the Metro lines. Pooja, who travels by the Metro to Nehru Place, where she works as a receptionist, says the service has transformed the landscape of Badarpur. “It was filthy, unsafe and had infrequent bus services. But now, its roads are better, and we even have a McDonald’s.” For Pooja, the Metro has brought with it familiar markers of urbanisation — a PVR, a McDonald’s and a mall.

For Shweta, who lives in Mayur Vihar in east Delhi and works in Noida, the Metro has brought places she had not heard of within reach. “I didn’t know about Shahdara, but I’m going there today for an engagement party,” she says. She’s travelling in the general coach, where she doesn’t feel unsafe but where she has ruled out conversation with strangers – which the automated playback keeps announcing in between stations. The Metro has made accessible places on the outer rims of Delhi. It has turned the likes of Dwarka, once considered an almost-hinterland, into a real estate developer’s dream.

We decide to take the underground Yellow Line from Rajiv Chowk in central Delhi to Kashmere Gate in north Delhi. From the stifled heat of Rajiv Chowk, the crowded train winds its way to Kashmere Gate. At Kashmere Gate, when we emerge from the bowels of the underground train to take the elevated Red Line, the minarets of Old Delhi are visible in the distance. The Metro has taken care to preserve Delhi’s heritage (the construction of Chawri Bazaar station is an engineering marvel). The familiar semi-circular domes of the Metro open on to narrow, busy streets of Chawri Bazaar and Chandni Chowk. Traders, shoppers, residents

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