Remember the days when the metro tickets used to be made out of paper and said the Zone and number of Rides? For me, taking a ride from Tollygunge to Esplanade during the weekends was to be a part of the only metropolitan city in Eastern India. I remember shopping in the streets, in front of Grand Hotel and watching movies at New Empire, Nandan and Metro (when they used to serve alcohol). The shopping soon shifted to Forum Mall in early 2000’s but the travel still remained the same. My sister and I would either stand between the compartments (where you aren’t supposed to stand) or in the ladies area where she would sit and I would stand in front of her.
Last week my sister was back in Kolkata and we decided to follow the same routine from over a decade back. Took a cab to Park Street but on our way back we decided to take the metro. My sister sat at the Ladies’ and I was standing in front of her. The kind of comments which were passed by the women around us were humiliating enough for me to stand by the gate. It got me thinking that back in the day, there were no AC trains and the smell of sweat was equally bad during office hours, if not worse, but the people were a lot more considerate and compassionate about the fellow passengers.
The metro covering the city and its suburbs is a great decision, but at what cost? Do we have to entertain people with no civic sense on our everyday life? Is that what Kolkata stands for? Are we becoming the next NCR? I might sound like an elitist, but trust me it’s not a Class issue but rather a cultural or moral concern. It seems that people have just taken the service for granted. Taking inspiration from section 294 of the Indian Penal Code, which says that kissing and hugging is a criminal offence with a punishment of imprisonment up to 3 months or a fine, or both, I came up with a solution:
MQ/CS Test before Tickets: MQ means Moral Quotient and CS refers to Civic Sense. This wouldn’t apply to children under 5 and handicapables. In the queue, one has to answer an easy multiple choice question to reach the ticket counter and buy a ticket. Eg. :-
If your compartment was jam-packed with people, what do you do with your backpack:
A: Carry it on your back, of course.
B: Carry it on only one shoulder, duh!
C: Give it to a random stranger who is sitting down.
D: Hold it low in your hand.
There should be a slapping mechanism for when you answer the first three options and you get slapped till you get it right.
Let’s start a petition. Who’s in?
(Feature Image Courtesy: Kahaani)