Friday, January 30, 2015

Adventures on the Delhi Metro

I could imagine that arriving in a strange city at 6.35 a.m. could be quite stressful, especially one that assaults the senses as Delhi does, with its noise and its poverty. And, even though I am a relatively seasoned traveller, particularly in India, a sleepless night on an aeroplane is not the ideal way to start a trip.

Having booked a hotel some way from the airport, and not being too keen on local taxis - let's just say that the traffic is diabolical, the driving slightly worse - I had decided to try the Metro system, something the locals are quite proud of. So, what do I think?

Well, as a first impression, it lacks a certain something, i.e. ticket machines that work, although a very polite and helpful young man did sell me a token for the Airport Express to New Delhi Railway Station, for the princely sum of 100 Rupees (about £1.10) - very cheap by international standards. It isn't really designed for people with luggage though, as they insist on screening your bag and making you pass through one of those metal detectors.

The train, however, is clean, quick and, surprisingly, rather empty. Mind you, the fare is extortionate by local standards. In just twenty minutes, the train speeds into the centre and, if that had been all that I had to do, it would have been fine. However, I still had two more rides, in the middle of the morning rush, on the equally clean, but rather cheaper and busier normal metro lines.

Stopping only to purchase a 19 Rupees ticket to Rithala, at the end of the Red Line, I then had to join a long queue to pass through security (not very serious but time-consuming, nonetheless). Despite that, the Yellow Line train to Kashmere Gate was pretty quiet. It was there that things got a bit more lively, as the connecting Red Line train was much busier. It had, however, emptied out by the time it arrived at Rithala, where I learned that the locals haven't really got the hang of letting people off of the train first. Confronted with a wall of people, I was obliged to force my way through them, running a few of them over with my luggage in the process.

I did get to my hotel, however, and was checked in by 9.30. So now my game plan is a gentle nap, followed by lunch. The afternoon will sort itself out, I guess...

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