Friday, November 4, 2011

Ode to the Delhi Metro

(with apologies to P.B. Shelley etc)

Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert
That from Delhi airport, or near it
Makest a rapid start
Amidst profuse strains of beeping alarms.

Faster still and soon,
From the earth thou springest,
Into the smog of Dhaula Kuan;
Through grey surroundings thou wingest,
And gleaming still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

In the silvery lightning
Of the sunken tunnel,
Over which the crowds are frightening,
Thou dost float and run,
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.

Keen as are the blue dots
Above the doors front and rear,
Whose intense lamp tells us
How far on our way we are,
Until we hardly see, we feel that we are there.

All the earth and air
With thy voice is loud,
Declaiming in Hindi and English
From an unseen cloud
"Watch the gap 'tween train and tracks", indeed we should.

Who thou art we know not;
What is most like thee?
Not the squalid subway trains
Of Paris, New York, London
Narrow, decrepit and, on warm days, smelly.

Better than all measures
Of delightful sound,
Is the bilingual pleasure
That in your final announcement's found,
Ham is samay New Delhi station pahunch rahe hain!

Teach me half the gladness
That thou, o train, must know;
Such harmonious madness
From my journey shall flow,
The world should travel then, as I am traveling now.