Learning travel etiquette through puppetry

Responsible traveller

Every Metro traveller would remember the ceaseless announcements made during the journey. Apart from informing them about the next station, Delhi Metro requests travellers to keep the premises clean. However, not many users contribute towards keeping its premises litter free, and follow rules. To tackle this problem and spread awareness about travelling etiquette in the Delhi Metro, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) is conducting puppet shows across city schools to create disciplined commuters for the future.

“Delhi Metro has been organising nukkad nataks to sensitise commuters to follow Metro rules and regulations. Video spots have also been prepared to address the problems one faces while travelling in Metro system. In this pilot project, DMRC is targeting kids to reach adults,” Anuj Dayal, executive director, corporate communications, DMRC, tells Metrolife.

He added that the idea was to teach kids the Metro etiquette and imbibe good mannerism while travelling in the Metro system through interactive puppet shows “and we encourage them to discuss these issues with their siblings, friends, parents and grandparents, thus helping us in a cultural charge in the overall mindset.”
Puppeteers from Katputli Colony in west Delhi perform these shows.

In this initiative, Enactus, an international non-profit organisation of students at Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), has also helped DMRC.

“We contacted DMRC who asked us to design a show on good practices to be followed by the general public while using the Metro. So, we designed a show specifically catering to an audience of children in the age group of eight to 11 years,” Ria Golecha, project director, Enactus SRCC, says.

The puppeteers are part of Enactus’  “Project Kayakalp” which intends to revive the art of puppetry. The project aims to empower 14 traditional puppeteers from the Kathputli Colony.

“We started off with Kayakalp in February 2012 and from performing eight shows in 2012, we have successfully performed more than 400 shows in the financial year 2014-15. The monthly income of these puppeteers has now gone up to Rs. 12,000 from Rs. 4,000 in 2012,” Golecha shares.

 The second year student of Economics at SRCC shares that the puppeteers have been trained by experts from the National School of Drama, Sangeet Natak Akademi and by renowned puppeteers like Dadi Pudumjee, Puran Bhatt, and Varun Narain.

They have also undergone extensive training in English by Teach India volunteers.
 The shows, which are nearly 15 minutes long, give out messages like ‘stay away from the yellow line’, ‘do not listen to loud music in the Metro premises’, ‘offer your seat to the elderly and ladies’, ‘do not litter the Metro premises’, ‘let people deboard from the train first’, ‘follow rules and regulations’ and ‘do not jostle with fellow passengers’.

“The attention span of kids is short and that’s the reasons we have designed these puppet shows for only 12-15 minute duration. They are interactive with rhyming words and funky songs. Each character in the show is carefully structured to represent the role he/she is playing. The Metro mascot has been used to disseminate information
in an interesting way,” Dayal says.

Geeta Gujral, supervisor at DPS International School, RK Puram (where one show was organised) says the students were excited and the message reached out to them.
“It is important to educate through a variety of tools and not only books. The students carried back so much from the show,” she says.

As a pilot project Delhi Metro would conduct these shows in 10 public/private schools in Delhi /NCR and later plans to write to the education department for organising them in government schools.

‘We have also approached Delhi Tourism to organise such shows at Dilli Haats. Delhi Metro Museum will also host these shows as many schools visit it on a regular basis,” Dayal adds.

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