Thursday, December 8, 2011

Delhi Diary

I made a very short trip to Delhi last week to bring my mother to Mumbai. As usual, Delhi left me confused as to whether I like it or detest it. I started off on a not-so-good note by landing up at Nizamuddin station. Nizammudin station, for those uninitiated, can easily be termed as the ‘travellers’ nightmare’. It’s utter chaos personified. Amidst the chaos, I debated the relative merits and demerits of the options I had: engaging in oral boxing matches with various touts, or sweating it through a long serpentine queue for a prepaid rickshaw. I decided on the latter, only to discover that the counter just took the responsibility of doling out the pre paid tickets. Actually getting hold of an auto-wallah to go to my destination was my own lookout!

After a long search for a rickshaw-walla willing to go to Janakpuri, I finally found one. Needless to say, he relented only because he wanted to go towards that direction anyway. The relief was short lived, though - the rickshaw-wallah seemed to be in an inordinate hurry to get somewhere. The way he drove the auto through traffic snares, I was scared he would trim the toes of people standing by the roadside. And he drove over speed breakers at about 80kmph, with as much care as if he was driving an SUV over a tiny bug.

I sat quietly, nursing my jostled insides, and contemplated asking him to slow down – but decided against it. Incurring his wrath at that point did not seem a good idea.

Returning to Mumbai the next day, I got stuck in terrible traffic jams at various points on my way home (it was Muharram day and processions were out on every street). And I noticed a pattern – of how Delhi traffic jams vary from their Mumbai counterparts. Here is a representation illustrating the difference:

A comparative representation of traffic jams in Mumbai vs Delhi. Each arrow represents a vehicle, and the arrowhead the direction in which it is trying to move...

While both cities have terrible traffic jams, in Mumbai you keep moving while in a jam (albeit at a speed at which an old snail taking a leisurely stroll could overtake you). In Delhi, on the other hand, a jam is ABSOLUTELY chaotic – and there is no way you can move ahead unless you are ready to do one of the following things:
a) Be ready to knock over the people standing by and drive over them
b) Be ready to drive over the tops of other vehicles
c) Get down from your vehicle and start an argument with another driver – and go on arguing till the traffic clears or one of you kills the other...

But there were some heartening bits of news about Delhi – I learnt that my mother’s presswalla’s (dhobi’s) son was doing MCA… nice! And I read in the papers that for the new lot of auto rickshaw permits in Delhi, women drivers would be given preference – a leap forward again, after the women conductors in DTC buses! Hope the move works out...


  1. The pic is so damn funny!! Tumpaimashi, how do you manage to find the exact word n pics to describe things all d time..its awesome :)

  2. True suchi,but after driving in mumbai for about three years,i am totally exausted.It feels like playing a video games all the time.In delhi people don't jump red lights ,here( ofcourse we are the suburburn population)its the order of the day.People honk irritatingly if u have stopped on a red light which is taking anything more than one min.So i am not sure whether delhi is worse than mumbai.Only agression levels are a bit lower,that too don;t know for how long!!.

  3. @Kinki - Thanks, you made my day!

    @Anu - People don't jump red lights in Delhi? Of course they do (whenever they get a chance that is)... but overall tend to agree with you. At least, in Delhi, when you are stuck in a jam, it is an educational experience - you get to update your vocab of colourful words!! :D