A perfectly posh city girl now commutes by local transport to reach her office.
Text: Kishore Singh. Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
When she decided to accept an assignment in Gurgaon (which was recently changed to Gurugram), we told our daughter she might have commuting issues, considering we live in Noida, which would entail her travelling through three states of the NCR (National Capital Region) before she could report for work.
But our daughter is nothing if not headstrong, so she signed up anyway, and in preparation for the new job, took a shopping trip to New York to dazzle everyone at the workplace.
She bought jackets so she might look more corporate, and a suitcase full of shoes for which she's still paying interest on her credit card. She shopped for shirts and bags with logos of the kind that feature in glossy magazines.
Things went swimmingly the first week because I was travelling and she had the driver to herself. Oh, she complained about the commuting time, and the traffic jams, but she arrived at work showing off her new wardrobe.
The cook gave her treats for the journey, and she had the music and her magazines, so it wasn't all bad, and she made light of the hours she spent travelling back and forth. But the challenge lay in my return, when she would have to fend for herself.
At first, she decided to drive herself to Gurgaon, but it coincided with the day that it rained heavily and caused mayhem on the streets and was headlined the following morning as 'Gurujam.'
She drove the next couple of days too, checking alternative routes, all with the same results, and it was soon clear that working as well as driving was heavy going, so she would have to suss out an alternative.
The Metro, which she also gave a try, was a no-no since the route was circuitous, she had to change lines, and it was too packed with humanity for her to last the journey.
She tried the app-based cabs, but the journey took as long in cars that stank of their previous occupants; there were concerns about safety when returning home; and it was expensive to boot.
She tried carpooling with a colleague but there were the usual issues of matching timings, and official appointments, so they decided to call it off.
And though they're social, my children aren't the kind to opt for pool cabs with strangers, so she was left, once again, looking for a way of commuting.
She's found it now. She takes her car till Green Park, in south Delhi, where she parks at an unauthorised lot for a consideration that the security guard of the shopping establishment opposite takes off her.
From here, she boards the Metro till the city centre in Gurgaon, which is close to her office, but not so close that she can walk it, so she hails an autorickshaw.
She repeats this in reverse on the journey back, and is exhausted from her efforts, but mostly she is upset that her life as a working girl is less glamorous than she had hoped.
She's taken to wearing Metro-friendly clothes, having quit her jacket suits.
The heels have gone too, replaced by flats that are convenient to drive in.
The styled hair is pulled back into an unfussy pony.
But there's still the question of the many bags she has to tote -- her laptop, tiffin, and handbag -- which makes it difficult to balance in the train, though it does allow her elbow room.
This morning, she decided to dump them all into a backpack for added convenience, becoming just another commuting girl in the city.