Delhi. Part One.
Transport, Infrastructure, Navigation
Delhi is perhaps the most developed city in India when it comes to public transportation. At least it is the only Indian city where there is a separate, modern metro line from the airport to the city center, known as the local Aero Express.
However, this does not negate the large number of persistent taxi drivers. Therefore, the first thing a traveler encounters upon leaving Indira Gandhi Airport is a crowd of incredibly pushy individuals who try to lure you towards them in every possible way. One of them pursued me for about five minutes, following closely behind and insisting that the metro is in the opposite direction, despite clear signs and my deathly silence.
Delhi Metro is modern, with well-lit trains that are equipped with air conditioning and spacious.
Entrance to the metro.
All stations of the Delhi Metro are equipped with frames and baggage scanners. Every passenger must put their luggage through the X-ray machine, and each passenger undergoes a personal inspection. There is a separate queue for men and a separate one for women.
Turnstiles and the hall.
Electronic display board in the train. In addition to the display board located above the doors, the carriages are equipped with a scrolling ticker. All announcements are made in two languages: Hindi and English.
Floor navigation at interchange stations explains the directions of transfers in detail. Footprints marked on the floor guide you to the desired location from the signs.
Direction of entry and exit from train carriages. People try to stand in a single queue following these arrows, but during peak hours, they rarely succeed.
The sign with the station name unmistakably refers to English roots, despite the fact that the metro was opened as recently as 2002.
Information board. It is detailed, but falls short of British conciseness.
Pink sign: a separate carriage for women is provided at the front of the trains. Women can, of course, also enter the regular, mixed-gender carriage, but it is strictly forbidden for men to enter the women’s carriage.
A disposable ticket, called a “token” in English. One side of the token features the metro logo, while the other side displays the Qutub Minar tower, one of the main attractions in Delhi. The token is electronic: it needs to be tapped on the reader at the entrance and dropped into the slot in the turnstile upon exit. The tokens are then collected, reissued, and sold again.
The distinctive feature of the Delhi Metro, like any public transportation in India, is the fare matrix. There are no different fare zones here. The ticket price is calculated based on a table. Each station has its own fare to each destination. Moreover, the fare depends not only on the distance but also on the station’s level of congestion. For example, the fare to Central Secretariat station is higher than to any terminal station.
Due to such a fare matrix, it is not possible to buy tokens in advance. Tokens purchased at Station N are valid only for entry at that particular station.
Of course, there are also rechargeable electronic cards available for sale.
Sign: “Spitting is prohibited. Fine of 200 rupees.” Only in Indian transportation can you come across something like this. The thing is, Indians have a strong preference for chewing some semi-narcotic substance like tobacco and excessively spitting brown filth everywhere.
Bus stop in the city center. The stop is equipped with an electronic display board, a list of routes, and a narrow bench.
The bus stop is deliberately made with a high curb to prevent parking. A yellow zone with the inscription “Bus Only” is painted on the asphalt. Surprisingly, even tuk-tuks do not enter it.
Of course, not every bus stop is so well-equipped. This one is simpler. There are even some very poor ones where there is no roof at all.
Some seats are equipped with fans.
If the story were about a European country, it could have ended here. Metro, buses, trams — that’s all the modern transportation. But not in Asia. Here, the primary means of transportation are still rickshaws, which locals refer to as “tuk-tuks.”
All motor rickshaws are equipped with counters. But either they don’t work or it’s impossible to understand how they work. What can you see in this counter? It’s easier to bargain. The fare can cost between 20 and 100 rupees, depending on the distance.
Partly a working counter. The display is on, but 10 kilometers have been added.
There are no counters on bicycle rickshaws at all, and the cost is purely negotiable. Of course, all Indians constantly try to be clever and overcharge. For example, one bicycle rickshaw driver sincerely insisted that he meant 120 rupees instead of twenty.
Sensations from the ride.
Of course, it is rickshaws that create the majority of traffic jams. There are just an incredible number of them. It feels like every Indian’s dream is to open their own rickshaw business. Moreover, rickshaws, based on sensations, do not follow any traffic rules, they drive wherever and however they want. Throughout the journey, I tried to understand why rickshaws are needed. What would happen if they were replaced with buses and minibusses? Why do Indians constantly seem to be going somewhere? I never found the answers to these questions.
Another form of transportation: a cart with a cow. The sacred animal cannot be eaten, but you can ride on it. Right on the roads, among cars and tuk-tuks.
Horses are also used.
By the way, in India, there is left-hand traffic, which they also inherited from the British. Many roads even have physical dividers.
They are also used as sidewalks, parking spaces, and markets.
In reality, I would use the term “chaotic movement” for India, if one can even speak of movement at all. Most of the time, the old city stands still because there is absolutely no order: during rush hours, rickshaws, motorcycles, cars, cows, carts, and pedestrians all mix together in a jumble. The city streets turn into a digestive tract. Every driver in the traffic jam keeps honking incessantly, every bicycle rickshaw rings its bell, and every pedestrian shouts. The noise is absolutely insane. It’s impossible to navigate through this mess.
Indian traffic jam.
The process of crossing the road. There is absolutely no difference between running across the street in the middle of the highway or walking on the pedestrian crosswalk. Nobody stops, even if the green signal is on.
Although there are pedestrian crossings formally, most of the time they either end up blocked or are so faded that the lanes are not visible. And it is absolutely pointless to look for any traffic signs in India. They are not needed in this chaotic mess.
The only exception to the chaos in Delhi is the city center, where government buildings are located. Here, cleanliness prevails. There are pedestrian crossings, and even vehicles stop at green lights because there are plenty of police officers around. But I won’t spoil the impression; instead, I will show you the iconic Delhi postbox — another fine example of English culture that once inspired and has now become a part of modern India.