We always compare the Western countries to our own "pathetic" infrastructure - and for good reason. While the London Underground works like clockwork, beautiful, spanking clean coaches hurtling inside the maze of tunnels, on time every time, our own trains seem to huff and puff under the strain to millions spilling out of smelly, over crowded dabbas...
(Yes, for now, ignore the wonderful Delhi Metro :))
But on our last day in London, we got a taste of what happens in these cities when one of the cogs in the wheels come unstuck. There was some little delay on one of the lines... and immediately, the ripples spread throughout the Underground. Platforms quickly started overflowing with harried travellers, coaches arrived at full capacity, and the rush of commuters jostling to get in and out at the same time would have made Dadar proud. Coaches started getting terminated mid journey, and already-stressed commuters were suddenly asked to disembark and wait for the next train.
And before all that, we got a taste of London traffic. A drive from the hotel to the station at King Cross - St Pancras that should have taken us 10 mins or less, took almost 45 min, and could have been much worse if not for the expertise of our drivers, who knew the tiny lanes and bylanes and helped us avoid some of the major bottlenecks.
It's all a matter of population density really - and it's amazing how our authorities are coping with our billions. Truly amazing.