BENGALURU: Take a ride on Bengaluru Metro and you will observe footboard riders. They do not mind being pushed around by the jostling crowd, and hang on to the spot with a catatonic resolve. We strike up a conversation with them to find out what the appeal is.While travelling in a Metro, we observe a family, a couple with their son, standing near the door of the Metro’s Purple Line. The boy, of about 13 years, tells his father that there is a seat available inside if he would like to sit. But his father says that he would like to keep standing where he is. We ask him why, when he could be causing an inconvenience to other passengers boarding or de-boarding the train, and he simply says, "I didn't know the gate opens this side. We are travelling in Metro for the first time today."
While there are few ‘footboaders’ like him who simply don’t know better, there are others, mostly young college students or working professionals, who enjoy standing at the door to see the city passing by.
“It's easier to get off the train when you standing near the door,” says a 27-year-old Guruprasad. So, we ask if he's getting down at the next station and he smiles saying no. A fashion student Sindhuja says she does not mind the rush,
“I am used to this spot now.”
A 25-year-old Kavya Pavan, a frequent commuter on train, says there is ergonomic comfort in travelling this way. “I can rest my back on this glass here,” she says, pointing to the panel on the sliding door.
Akshitha Srinivas, a financial analyst, travels on Green Line. She suggests that perhaps people take the last compartment on the Metro, because they are less crowded, and then hurry out towards the entrance at the far-end. The 24-year-old says, “These footboard travellers do not move, even is someone has to get off the train.”
College student Anuvarta Binicee Chettri takes pains to get a particular spot -- the second door of the first coach of the train. She says, “That compartment usually comes near the staircase at the Dasarahalli station. It is the fastest route out of the station.” Also, she is not comfortable standing or sitting in between strangers. She prefers the door where you can lean and hold the supporting rod for her 25-minute journey. “I am usually tired after college, so this spot is perfect... I have something to lean against and can enjoy amazing views while listening to music,” she adds.
College student Emily John stands by the door to read her book comfortably. “It gets difficult to hold the handle and read the book, standing in between sweaty people,” she adds. On the other hand, Tameena Ali, a media professional, stands near the door only if it is too crowded inside. “It is dangerous, you could fall down when people push you while de-boarding the train... But sometimes the compartment gets stuffy with too many sweaty people. Then I stand near the door,” she adds. There’s a popular dialogue by Amitabh Bachchan in the film Kaalia. He says: Hum jahaan khade hote hai, line wohi shuru hoti hai (The queue starts from the spot where I stand). Do we believe the same?
‘To see cute girls passing by’
On an online forum of discussion, a participant Revanth Chetluru says that you can see fancy cars and a couple of girls passing by, when you stand at the glass door. He writes: “The foot board offers a pleasant breeze and a view onto the outside world. So, why disturb a group of old men on your way to the spot”.
No scientific reason behind the behaviour
This urban rush could come from deep-seated insecurities, says Dr Shubha Madhusudhan, a clinical psychologist. “They feel they will lose out on something. It's constant need to be the first... they always want the one to enter and leave first. If you miss the bus or train, you'll get another one in ten minutes,” she says.