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Impressions by Roli Srivastava

Red, green, blue, yellow lines criss-crossed each other on the map I was holding in my hand and listening to instructions on the bus I needed to take before hopping between train lines for an hour-long journey that would take me to that restaurant for a warm Italian dinner. I had just landed in Hamburg and was trying to figure out its public transport, a real challenge for a direction-disabled person like me who, from a sea of subjects waiting to be explored, chose to study Germany’s efficient public transport in the context of gender.

Not that I didn’t.

I hopped on to buses and trains, checked connections on the HVV app and seamlessly floated from the bus to the train and arrived at all my appointments at various places across Hamburg always on time. Really proud. But wait, I just revealed how it ended.

It began with me making sense of those colourful lines, blindly following the other, more confident fellows on the group, and pretending that I had cracked this complex puzzle even as I appreciated how public transport respected its travellers, particularly women.

The buses would lower oh-so-gently for women with prams or those on wheelchairs, attendants would await a train that had a person with a disability on board and escort her/him off to the exit. No fuss. A single pass connected all forms of transport – yes, I even used it on a ferry and to visit the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial and wondered absent-mindedly only the next day if the pass was indeed allowed on that long journey. Ignorance, as they say, can be bliss.

Like mentioned earlier, I did eventually crack the code. And then we went to Berlin. Let’s keep that story for another day.

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