Levels of anger are rising in our urban societies and the scene from a metro train is just a small vignette of this. The daily newspaper provides more instances about how people are ready to hit out and kill at the slightest provocation like on being served cold food at a hotel, being asked to join a queue to buy a ticket, a bodily gesture misunderstood or a piece of luggage accidentally brushing against someone's ultra-sensitive toe.
Retaliation is instant and spontaneous and full of invective and there is a hint in the vocabulary and tonality inviting some sort of a response, even from the avowed pacifist, so that something more can then be said again and again, till the dispute is brought to some sort of an uncomfortable closure which still leaves the atmosphere extremely charged.
'Personal space' is perhaps a rather elitist term in a city of 16 million where space of any kind is generally hard to find, and yet the distinct shrinking of public spaces, let alone private spaces is a matter of concern.
Parks, play grounds, and just plain simple open spaces, where people could gather without frills and fuss and vent have all but disappeared except in elitist residential colonies, where they are gated and guarded by security guards.
The elites have these and air conditioned malls as their watering holes where they can gather but the others have nothing except the crowded bazars (markets) and buses and pavement deprived roads to even walk on, let alone play.
'Inclusive growth' is a term, I hear being talked about often. It makes good economics. It makes for good politics, especially in an election year. The Delhi Metro interiors are all splattered with colorful posters outlining the achievements of the Shiela Dixit government boldly proclaiming 'yahan vikas dikhta hai' (development is visible here).
The words are not visible as the metro trundles on. For blurring the words and the interiors, all eyes are on a scuffle that has just begun between two men in a hurry……