A Bridge

Indiana Jones and Ethan Hunt would not be pleased.

THE METRO in Delhi has to be the more tightly cramped space I have ever been in,short of a wet-suit, except I wasn’t sharing that wetsuit with four strangers sitting in a sauna. That’s more or less what a carriage of the metro can feel like at rush hour.

The carriage at the front of the train is also reserved for women, and I have seen armed guards at the doors of these enforcing the gender-specific rule. For a man to ride in one of these is now a fineable offence – 200 Rupees.

Also a fineable offence is riding on the roof of the train. That will put you back 50 rupees. RIDING ON THE ROOF OF A SUBWAY TRAIN.

What happens if you ride on the roof of the women’s carriage?

DELHI DRIVING is notoriously chaotic. Between cars, rickshaws, auto-rickshaws, motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, the occasional cow and elephant (seen one so far), crossing the street is a very peculiar and dangerous dance.

But when you’re on the pavement, you’re not particularly safe either.

Walking to the office, a motorcycle sped towards me. I dodged right, thinking it would go left and back into the central Delhi artery running besides me. But he had already turned his head the opposite direction, to park, and swerved into me.

When I say swerved into, I mean the motorcycle wheel was between my legs, and turning into my knee. I’m not normally a violent person, but this was a little much – I cracked a punch on his shoulder and moved my leg out the way.

And while in any other place that probably would have been the start of something beautiful, it shows how crazy the driving culture here is that that was the end of our encounter. No shouting, punching back, apologies, dot. Just on with work.

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