City Hangout – Gate No. 1, Jama Masjid Metro Station
An accidental refuge.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The cold blast hits you as soon as you enter the foyer. The sweat on your skin instantly dissipates. It is like steppping inside the lobby of a 5-star hotel in the sweltering month of May.
But this is the gate no. 1 of Jama Masjid metro station. The chilly air is coming out from the air-conditioned environs of the underground station. Truth be told, such breeze is experienced at the portals of many air-conditioned places, including at the entries of many metro stations, but the effect is mostly limited to the vicinity around the door. Here the entire area has become a non-heat island. The chill is so intense that The Delhi Walla visited the spot for three consecutive days at different times to double check if the effect stays so chilly. On the final day, no cold wave lashed out on stepping into the foyer. But there it was, hugging you half a minute later, indicating that the blasts come out in quick successions.
The advantages are being exploited by the local citizens the way they aren’t outside other metro landmarks. This afternoon a man is lying flat on the floor. A couple is chatting in one corner. Two school students are lounging by the escalators. A few more folks are showing no hurry to go inside or get out, as the tradition is in other stations. They are hovering around the landing, cherishing the refreshing coolness. The man who was lying on the floor is getting up lazily. He says he has no home.
Waiting for customers, a rickshaw puller explains that “when the doors of the metro train slide open in the platform (downstairs), the cold air escapes out from the AC coach, rushes upwards and comes out.” A metro staffer downstairs says the same.
The cold blasts come out of the station’s gate no. 2, too, but gate no. 1 is special because it is… well, gate no. 1. It is like a modern-day successor to the legendary gate no. 1 of the Jama Masjid monument, nearby, where hundreds of people sit on the stone stairs daily and gaze upon the bustle of Matia Mahal Bazar. Come here (the metro station’s gate no. 1, that is!) to witness how citizens of our hard city manage to create accidental refuges.