metro views

Every city in India seems to have an 'MG Road' - a Mahatma Gandhi Road. When I first sighted Bengaluru's edition of an MG Road, I was drawn irresistibly to a monstrosity perched in the air above it: the Metro Station - or, more accurately the Namma ("our") Metro Station.

My pulse raced a little bit. I love a good Metro.
I went inside and saw this map.

Now the pulse was reaching dangerous levels.
I made a bee-line for the Customer Care counter.
'Do you sell travel cards for Namma Metro?'
'Yes, we do.'
'May I purchase two of them. And please would you load each one with 1000 rupees?'

She looked up at me, bemusement spreading across her face.
'I think 500 rupees is more than you will need.'
'Really?! - OK.'
I was not going to permit her to dampen my enthusiasm.
She gave us our travel cards, with a little smile...

I bounded up the steps to the platform three at a time, as is my custom (while I can). We boarded the train, only to discover very quickly that the map was purely aspirational. There were just six completed stations and the round trip would take 20 minutes and cost us less than 30 rupees each.

That was four years ago.

Last Saturday it was a different story. Barby and I returned to Namma Metro and traveled the extent of the East-West corridor and the North-South corridor. We visited every station, most of them twice!

It was good to have Barby to help with pronouncing some of the long station names.

At various points, we 'de-boarded' and had a walk around, savouring the views of the city. Great to see both occupants of a scooter wearing helmets, although I'm unsure how protective these ones are. Some can appear to be like reconstructed TipTop ice cream containers. [NB: Statistics released yesterday reveal that 10,000 'two-wheeler' riders die each year in India due to the absence of  a helmet - and two people die from accidents on Bengaluru's roads every day]. The creativity involved in constructing buildings on small spaces was evident, as was Bengaluru's canopied-trees - all too quickly disappearing. We even sighted a hospital that would enable our daughters to work together, combining paediatrics and gynaecology.

There was even time for me to have a rant about colonialism in the twenty-first century with yet another billboard in Asia that can't focus on indigenous beauty. Barby kindly pretended like she had never heard me raise this issue before ... and then we wondered how Jacindamania back home in New Zealand (it is Election Day on 23 September) could cope with the political billboards over here.

I was so pleased to see one of these new Indira Canteens being constructed, a fresh initiative to provide food for the poor at ridiculously cheap prices. [Named after Indira Gandhi, a former prime minister].

We stumbled across a couple of Delhi's culinary delicacies down here in Bengaluru, with some of Delhi's chaat (street food) finding its way onto the menu for lunch - raj kachori and pani puri. But 'I still haven't found what I am looking for' down here in the South. It was served all flash ('What?! - puri sitting atop test-tubes of coloured pani?'), but not even close to the real thing in terms of taste. But Keventers next door was the real thing, bringing to mind my father's great love for these milkshakes all those years ago in Connaught Place in Delhi (particularly as he stood waiting for his shoeshine).

We did have a couple of other motivations to come into the city. One was to get my camera fixed. I dropped it on the ferry as I crossed the Suez Canal last month (hence the poor quality of these photos from my very average smartphone). Then we wanted to visit our friends - Benji (a colleague of mine), Rashmi, Gabi & Jessica. They have moved to the far south of Bengaluru, two stops from the end of the Metro line, in order to start a ministry centred around a cafe. After a good chat, together with a fresh lime soda and a plate of french fries, Barby and I headed home.

nice chatting



Popular Posts