Varied transports, some obsolete some modern, serve the purpose for the residents of Delhi
Many, many summers ago Shamshad Begum regaled us with her nasal offering, “Gadi wale gadi dheere hank re” in Mehboob’s classic, Mother India. Around the time this memorable bullock cart song was shot, Dilip Kumar and Vyjayantimala were busy shooting for “Maang ke saath tumhara”, a wonderful tongawallah song in Naya Daur rendered with flawless ease by Mohammed Rafi and Asha Bhonsle with O.P. Nayyar’s music retaining the sound of the horse-beat all through. Much later, the house of the Rajshri’s gave us another unforgettable bullock cart song “Kaun Disha Mein Leke Chala Hai” in Sachin-Sadhna Singh’s Nadiya Ke Paar. In between came Aradhana where Rajesh Khanna in a jeep kept track with Sharmila Tagore in a train in the utterly romantic song, “Mere Sapnon ki Rani”. A little less flamboyant were Amol Palekar and Vidya Sinha when the former trailed the latter in the song, “Jaaneman Jaaneman Tere do Nayan” all over a public transport bus in Chhoti si Baat.
If our dream merchants are to be believed, one travels for love, using all kinds of means of transportation! The reality though is quite different as anybody who uses public transport daily to reach his or her college or office will gladly testify. Remember flared tempers, endless traffic jams, sweaty armpits and groping fingers? Sick. Though life in the Capital may not be a patch on these all-time favourite Hindi film songs, some day, take some time out to sit and ponder what all means of transport we see in our own Dilli, now staking claim to being a global city. In the far flung parts of east and west Delhi, bullock carts still operate, in the heart of old Delhi and a little beyond it, one can still spot a tonga or two. There are the good old cycle-rickshaws on many major roads. In some cases, e-rickshaws, now in the middle of a controversy, keep them company and competition.
Then there are still those old fashioned DTC buses used in some parts, those rickety vehicles with four blocks of left hand seats reserved for ladies; also the seats which men shamelessly occupied to admire the scenery outside! Also there on the fringes are tempos or Vikrams, the very local term for an improvised contraption, a cross between an auto-rickshaw and a traditional phut-phut. All these numbers add up but they are a mere ripple in the ocean. The waves, the crests are all brought up by the hugely popular Delhi Metro. For proof just go across to Kashmere Gate or Rajiv Chowk at the peak hour. Mind-boggling?
Yes. But imagine life without these different era vehicles vying for the same space? A Toyota and a tonga, a Chevrolet and a cart!