Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Dateline 4th November

A welcome holiday again today , almost at the beginning of the week and more enjoyable as yesterday , the dreaded Monday was spent in travelling to and fro between Mumbai and New Delhi . And considering that the last Saturday was a full work day spent in office and meetings , one will understand how much pressure a lazy middle-aged , delicate has to go through to make a decent living . It actually brings tears to my own eyes. What to say about those who are reading it. Sympathies are surely in order and I will surely appreciate.
Visiting another city for work and meetings invariably causes sleep deprivation added to the change in daily cycle . Catching an early flight after waking up at ungodly hours , completing the morning ablutions and reaching the airport on time is by itself so unpleasant. Returning home at the dead of night after a stressful day of inane meetings and constant touch with office and work over mobile phone adds up to the troubles. At some point of time , you feel like crying out - Oh God ,why me ?
But enough of my tale of woes. These are part and parcel of life and many others are , may be ,already sneering at me for this lack of professional attitude . So let us also look at the positives from these trips. The biggest positive is the complete switching off you experience while the plane is on air. From the family,from workplace,from reminders and tasks. And,if you can catch hold of a good book to read or carry good music to listen , then actually there is nothing like it. Instead of stress, the couple of hours forced shutdown from the life on earth actually helps to de-stress . I always believe that one should play on the strengths rather than try too hard to improve the weaknesses which are genetic traits of a personality. That actually involves faking which means your life is not happening as you were meant to spend it .
So I always try to engage these flight times by covering myself with the chadar of laziness, my strongest trait and embark on my own flight of fancy with a book or music apart from the favourite pastime of unfettered bird watching . Without the presence of wife or the distraction of colleagues around discussing office , this activity sometimes become very interesting if a nice bird happens to be there in the vicinity.
Now before I again ramble into the territory of forbidden delights of the senses , let me change track . Yesterday,I was at New Delhi. It had nothing to do with the LG's decision to call for fresh elections there . Neither it was to take tips on either fitness or foolishness from the Right Honorable Shri Robert Vadra , the untouchable Indian. It was purely a business trip to attend meetings and review office work there. Routine,like all previous visits. But I added a small twist myself , more out of curiosity than anything and tried to connect with Delhi in a different way.
Somehow this time , by some coincidence,which taught me a lesson ; both my arrival and departure flights were to and from the Terminal 3 at the IGI airport. That actually gave me an idea again to explore the Delhi Metro network.
So I decided to do away with the car or taxi and even did not inform the office or colleagues at Delhi fully about my travel plans. Thus almost incognito I arrived at the airport and walked out to the Airport Metro platform which was just about 5 mins walk. That I had almost no luggage to carry helped. My first meeting was at IFCI building which is bang opposite the Nehru Place metro station. That knowledge also helped. I rung up my colleague and told him that I am already in town and will meet him at the venue directly without giving him a chance to ask how ,why etc. so that I was not dissuaded from the mini adventure.
The fare from Airport to New Delhi station by Delhi Airport Metro Express service is Rs 100 and it takes just around 25 mins to reach. Thereafter, it is the domain of Delhi Metro , proper or DMRC with its network of different routes colour coded and popularly known as blue, yellow, purple lines etc. or something to that effect. The journey from the airport to New Delhi is one of the best and one gets the feel of being in some developed country because of the comfort , quickness and the absence of crowds at all. I think this was the quickest and most pocket friendly way to travel from the airport to the city avoiding the traffic on road. For a single traveller or a couple of adults with light luggage this is the best way to reach the city , in my opinion.
But the real India and the problem of urban life hits you on the face with full force once reaching the New Delhi Metro station. The metro station connects the New Delhi railway station , of the Indian Railways . I don't know if it happens everyday but a sea of people were jostling at the ticket counters at the ND station. It was almost like any station on the Mumbai local network ; only difference being the cleanliness and underground facilities of a very high degree . People from different places were thronging the place in long queues with their luggage. From ND metro station I took a crowded metro service to the Central secretariat and here again changed trains on a different route , towards South Delhi . This part of the journey was less crowded , most likely because the direction was away from the city centre during the morning rush hours.
Nehru Place station Metro station has excellent facilities and a wide range of shops and a wonderful food court too . I must admit that barring the crowd at ND station the experience from the Airport till now had been wonderful as the cleanliness , precision, punctuality and easy to understand directions were really great and made you wonder why such experience is not replicated everywhere.
A fter the forenoon meeting my colleague Vivek took me for lunch to the food court . There was an franchisee outlet of the iconic Karim's where we preferred a light lunch of Rumali rotis with mutton seekh kebabs accompanied by shredded onion and a lemon piece . Rounding this off with a chocolate milk shake completed the treat. For the next part of the journey post lunch we travelled by the office car brought by my Vivek before he dropped me at the SBI complex on the parliament street. The afternoon meeting at SBI LHO dragged on and was followed by another meeting with my sales team at Delhi. I had knowingly booked a return flight quite late because from my previous experiences I know how such review meetings go on quite late .
After the meeting when I expressed my desire to again travel by metro to the airport ,my people must have thought that their boss was behaving a bit strange. Refusing their advice and help to call a cab , I asked them to direct me to a convenient metro station. Everybody advised to take the Airport Express from Shivaji stadium station . But getting a cab or rickshaw was taking some time. Then someone suggested that Patel Chowk station was at a walking distance. They were not suggesting it because they did not want me to take the trouble to walk. This actually showed that not all your well wishers give you sound advice. Sometimes people judge you by something else and do not give you the full picture. More so juniors in workplace. Out of respect or seniority often many information are withheld . As it turned out , the Patel Chowk metro station was just five minutes walk away from our Delhi office.
From Patel chowk to New Delhi and then to the airport took only 45 minutes including changeover , ticketing etc. And a very hassle free journey. I am now a great fan of New Delhi metro. Speaking with different people during the day I could realise how the metro has changed the lifestyle of people in Delhi for the better. For an example many people did not visit Chandni Chowk for ages due to traffic jam and parking problems . But now many take metro and visit the place to shop and eat out. Then places like Nehru Place metro station is a good hangout for the young crowd. And for the average office goer , it is just a boon .
Next time I visit Delhi I will plan to have my meetings on Friday and stay over the weekend to explore the lovely city meet friends and definitely have more sheekh kebabs at Karim's. No franchisee outlet , it has to be the real thing.

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