Finally Mumbai gets its Metro, delayed beyond imagination but finally here. And as soon as the Metro came in, I have been trying to find a way to ensure that I make the full use of it. In 2013, amongst the top 10 ideas that were about to change the world (courtesy TIME) was an idea called the Handprint.
Handprint was one of the most exciting ideas I have come across in a long time. It was against the idea of carbon footprints as it was so negative. It made people feel guilty. On the other hand Handprint is a measure of the positive measures we take to save the planet. It makes you feel good. And in Mumbai, the one thing that can make you feel good about taking care of the planet is if and when you can take the public transport.
The Mumbai Metro follows a strange decorum unknown to the local train which is the lifeline of the city. And as you wait for the train, you realize how in society codes create themselves. Some forced; some by their own nature.
As you travel on the Metro, strangely cut off from the noise, you see various facets of human emotions yet unknown. You look down on a church facade which wears a new placard wishing the metro travellers all the very best. You meet an old lady asking a young guy beside her, a stranger, to take a video of her in the train. You see people giving updates to family outside the city that their commute time is now reduced.
I believe Mumbai has 3 smells. The first rises in the sea and blows over the city engulfing the entire city in a smell of fish, salt and filth. The second comes as a breath of fresh air in the monsoons after the first rains have washed away the dirt and the grime from the face of the city. The third is the smell of humanity packed together, immovable in a train compartment. Metro is not devoid of that smell. And it makes you feel human once again.
The Metro also reminds you of the forgotten and destroyed geography of Mumbai. As the train nears its final destination you can see the mountains that once made up much of the Central suburbs being slowly cut down to make way for humanity. The ecological impact of it? No one has the answer yet.
But for today you would have reached your destination and to your loved ones before you could see an episode of Friends on your phone. And for a city that’s always running a marathon at the speed of a sprint, nothing could be better.