Public transportation here is cheap but crowded. Since I’m short and can’t reach the overhead handles I usually have to balance myself without holding on to the handles; this is when I get armpit right smack in my face. It’s hot and muggy in the metro (almost the same thing as the subway in NYC) that sometimes I have rivers running down my back. The metro is always an interesting experience every time I ride it. Sometimes it is a flooded river of human bodies and sometimes it is hollow as a bamboo, depending on the traffic and time of day.
I’ve been pretty cautious about where I stand on the metro. There are invisible rules that you learn along the way as you travel on the metro. Like make sure your backpack/ purse close to yourself; don’t give anyone any opportunity to take your belongings. Don’t step on old men’s feet – because the last time my friend stepped on an old guy’s feet he decided it was appropriate to hump her from behind (as revenge??). She tried to push herself away from the old bastard (excuse the language) but everyone was folded together like a sandwich making it almost impossible to wiggle our way anywhere else. At this point in time she just had to make a scene – so she started cussing at the old man, “You jackass. Stop that!” Another thing about the metro that frightens me is the fact people – both men and women – stare at me up and down trying to identify what sort of person I am. I am human for God’s sake; that’s all they need to know. But no: they stare and stare. I simply turn my iPod on and imagine Ranbir Kapoor singing “Tujhe Bhula Diya” from the movie Anjaana Anjaani.
I’ve encountered some kind people in the metro, too. One time I accidently and unknowingly got into the “men section” of the metro. There I was, a short 5’1” Asian girl standing amongst the 5’6” to 5’11” men. My metro stop, Rabindra Sarovar, was coming up and I needed to move closer to the door in order to exit on time. Two middle-age Indian men were getting off at the same metro stop (I could guess this due to the direction they were facing). I looked up at one of the men in agony; somehow he was able to read my body language; that I needed to get off at the next stop. The other guy, who understood English a little better, saw that I needed to get off, too, so he asked me, “Rabindra Sorovar?” I nodded to confirm yes. When the metro came to a complete stop the guy with less English held on to my small hand and pulled me out with him. I made it out alive! I wanted to thank him and give him a huge hug but instead I turned away and ran towards the exit.