It is new, it is hip, it is happening. PREETI ZACHARIAH checks out the green line of Namma Metro
The first thing that hits you is the cloying smell of fresh paint. I am at the Mantri Square, Sampige Road station where the brand new Green Line of Namma Metro begins. And though construction still continues along the nearly 10 kms long stretch, which goes all the way to the Peenya Industry part of the city, the line has been operating for almost a month now.
I enter the station and buy a token to Peenya Industry. The tokens are priced at Rs. 22—not bad for a distance which would cost close to Rs. 200 if one took an autorickshaw instead. And for the owners of a Smart Card its even cheaper—Rs 19.5 according to the man at the help desk of the somewhat cavernous station.
Unlike the stations along the purple line, which right now connects Baiyappanahalli to Mahatma Gandhi Road and has been operational since October 2011, the Mantri Square station still bears the outward signs of being a work in progress.
Some of the rafters are still uncovered and sunlight filters in through the gaps. Construction workers bustle busily about. Dust covers the platform seats, the banisters and escalators. However, the rather harassed looking security guards, bright red time display proclaiming the next trains’ arrival and excited children ready to take a joy ride are present on both lines.
The train chugs in. It is silver with a streak of bright green along its length. I prefer the colour of the other line—a rather virulent shade of purple-pink, veering towards a deep magenta. Once I step in, however, it ceases to matter. The security guards whistles, people scramble in. A shuffling of feet as they settle down. The sudden silence that descends as the automated doors close and the commuters relax enjoying the air-conditioned air that streams through the train as it slowly moves out of the station.
Mobile cameras are pulled out and proud parents and adoring significant others snap wildly. I’m pretty sure that most of these photos will soon find their way onto Facebook—in fact some are probably being uploaded while we travel. Two minutes later and the next station arrives—Sriramapura followed by Kuvempu Road, Rajajinagar, Mahalaxmi, Sandal Soap Factory, Yeshwantpur, Yeshwantpur Industry, Peenya and finally Peenya Industry. The topography is remarkably different from that along the purple line. The view from the window there is mostly that of traffic — clogged roads, a few commercial complexes and a couple of open fields. The green line is a lot more interesting — apartments, houses, factories, temples, lots of greenery and the occasional commercial complex flash by in no particular order.
The train finally reaches its endpoint — the Peenya Industry station which like the Mantri Square station is large, incomplete and hugely confusing. I circumvent the station several times before finally finding the exit and manage to board the train going back with a minute to spare. Settling beside the window I watch the same sights go past while my new co-travellers again go the photo route. It is late evening and dusk has begun to cast her shroud on the city. Vermillion tinged buildings throw up in sudden relief against the darkening sky and you see the city is a new light-literally.
The pillars of the overhead corridor are humongous. I realize how much when I flash past a high rise apartment and realize I’m almost looking down at its roof. I am amazed at the sheer engineering marvel that the metro is.
The train slows down and stops right back where we started—Mantri Square. Nearly twenty kms covered in less than an hour, which in Bangalore traffic is exceptionally good. As I step out from the train and exit the station, a line from David Baldacci’s novel The Christmas Train comes unbidden to my mind
It's not getting from A to B. It's not the beginning or the destination that counts. It's the ride in between...This train is alive with things that should be seen and heard. It's a living, breathing something -- you just have to want to learn its rhythm.
And I’m so glad I learnt it.