It is a truth universally acknowledged that all forms of public transport have their own language, their own code of conduct, and their own life. The Metro isn’t very different: much like the Local trains of Bombay, the Metro has its way of communication.
While the trains of Bombay are a battlefield, the Metro is Chess. While Bombay is survival of the fittest, the Metro is survival of the fat aunties who do not shirk from asking for space on an overcrowded bench.
On the Metro, there are three cardinal rules that everyone must follow.
Rule Number One: Find a Seat or Die
Sacrifice your first child for your seat on the Metro, goddammit. Make people shift in their seats, plonk yourself at the end of the compartment on the floor itself , have no regard for the people who are trying to leave or climb the Metro.
Find a seat. It’s not a matter of simple seatlessness, or the fact that you have come all the way from Vishvavidhyalaya down to Gurgaon, it’s a matter of honour. Seats are the fodder on which the metro functions, and it’s not a battlefield, it’s a lot more complex.
The art of finding yourself a seat is subtle and manipulative. When you find yourself a seat, there will be someone (probably a fat aunty) who will tell you to shift, despite their being barely any space as is. You shift because it’s polite and they practically sit down on your lap.
You’re dying because you can’t handle it, so you shift a little more. They promptly wiggle in further. It’s an unending cycle. The only way to counter it is to stop wiggling for space. I guarantee you, they will not relent. They have an aim in mind, and they are not afraid to kill for it. It doesn’t matter what you do, they will want to share the seat. Don’t give them the satisfaction of giving them a lot of space.
Rule Number Two: The Stare Game
Everybody stares. You think its exaggeration, but people will stare at you if you were discussing the latest scandal in insert friend’s name here or if you were wondering where you should go for higher education.
Not only are people listening and staring, they are probably grammatically editing your conversation in their heads. If not grammatically editing, they are posing counter arguments to you.
If you’re reading a book, everybody within three feet is reading it with you. If you are looking at a text, everyone is part of the conversation. If a foreigner enters the compartment, everything is fair game. People don’t even disguise their staring.
Rule Number Three: Beware the Pole
The poles at the centre of the compartment are spots fraught with complications. On one hand, it’s a comfortable standing space. You can lean on it without hurting yourself. You can grip it and not go flying across the compartment when the Metro slows or starts or jerks.
On the other hand, when in the general compartment, standing at the pole and gripping it is almost immediately a move that gathers staring. Whether you are a girl or a boy, the pole is just weird in the general compartment.
On the other hand, the pole also means a lot of sharing. Everyone will be gripping the pole with you, and these people have no concept of personal space. Hands touching hands, fingers on fingers. It’s all weird and awkward and you want to escape two stations before your stop.
Poles are places of contradictions and too much thinking. Avoid at all costs.
Of course, there’s so many sub rules and line specific rules, and other weird etiquette rules for the Metro, it would take an eternity to sort them all out (avoid the Blue line, whenever possible. The Blue line is where dreams go to die). In the meanwhile, try to find a goddamn seat.