Sunday, February 21, 2010
New York Commute Pt.2: Commute Harder
Why do people lean onto the tracks to see if the train is approaching? It is going to come when it comes, leaning is not gonna make the train engineer make it run faster or feel bad for arriving late. Its just some things people do. You want to tell if the train is here, close your eyes and just stand at the platform. When you feel the wind suddenly picking up pace, almost a gust, thats when you know the train is here.
I have 24 minutes everyday from when my office lets out to when the 5:54 NJTransit trian leaves NY Penn station. I have to rush out of the office everyday if I have to catch the subway. It runs at every 6 minutes during the evening rush hour and 4 minutes during the morning. Yes,I have timed it. I try not to get all tied up about being late, because ,hey , you get there when you get there. Right? But going to the office and to a movie are the only two times I am hyper , alert and really flummoxed abt getting late. It irks me to no bounds when the people in the subway try to get in even when its fully packed. Its a true measure of the nature of the people of a city how they behave in the mass transit system, and let me tell you from what I have seen , theres no difference between NDC and NYC. This last Thursday, it was a true case of Hexagonal closed Packing . You can tell if you are late at the platform by the number of people waiting at the platform, naturally. It was overflowing. Apparently an A-express was cancelled. So we all waited. The next to come was a local C and suddenly I saw some ppl running further down the platform. I knew it must be some newyorker trick so I followed them and the train stopped way down the platform and I was right in front of the last car. I got in as did the whole platform. It was hell. and the door closed and opened several times with the engineer pleading ppl to stand back and wait for the next train. Finally we started moving. The next station was Spring St. If we couldnt fit in ppl at the last station why bother now , I thought .But there are always ppl getting off , silly. And again, ppl trying to wedge in as much as possible. I couldnt understand how where they fitting in. I looked over to the other side to see if there were ppl spilling over from the doors and windows like a priyadarshan movie, but no. Some ppl were actually taking a run and plopping into the mass of human meat. Like a bucket filled to the rim but still not overflowing from the drops that keep dripping into it. At the next station I wanted to actually put my arms across the door and stop ppl from getting in. Cant you see? We are full. No more!! The crowd thinned away as we got closer to NY Penn. And what happened just 2 stops before NY Penn?? The train stopped for some reason. My NJT train had already left , so I was no longer worried. So we all just stood there looking at each other, looking away when abt to be caught only to catch someone else who was staring at us, look away. I saw two ppl discussing a blueprint and I knew they were brothers of the same cloth. Civil Engineers. Why does it make me so giddy to know that they wield the same sword, the same shields?? Nearby a curly haired dude tries to read from the book , a old black lady is reading. She frowns at him and he looks away. A stop arrives. People get off. We rearrange ourselves. And now the curly haired dude is trying to decipher the blueprints. He even rubs his chin in mock wondering. The new cargo of ppl has with them a large black man who pleads with us to confess our sins and come under the lord's shadow, offering his own story to convey the power of JC. "I stole from my mother" "What answer would I give , when I die and the lord asks me , How is it that you were a lousy christian but an extraordinary crack head " "i was beyond redemption, but if I can see the light , hail the lord, so can you". The subway comes with its own brand of entertainment. I have actually seen this guy before peddling the same "wares". Have you wondered what would happen if two eccentrics were put in a ring and asked to have a go at it? Thats what happened the other time, when a drunk guy started loudly agreeing with everything the large dude was saying, putting him off and then leading to a loud argument resulting in the large guy getting off at the next station. The drunk guy beamed triumphantly.
My stop arrives and I get off. I have 15 minutes till the next train. All around me food tempts me, calling out to me, weilding a magnetic pull on my wallet. I give in and grab a white slice and join the scores staring at the info screen , waiting to know which platform are they docking my train. I get on.The train enters the tunnel soon after and you cant tell when its out because its dark outside when it comes out, as dark as the inside of the tunnel. It stops at Newark Penn, a station I have had a long relationship with. People cram in, among them Punit Kataria , Lavesh Gupta and Samir Dudani, complete with the french beard he has had since he was 9 years old, only its a trio of desis who remind me of them. Thats how Ms.Marple solved crime , you know. She was old and had met a lot of people in her life and could compare anyone to one of those people and predict how they would act and how they would have acted in a certain situation. I can tell they are consultants. Oh how some F1 students detest consultants, who arrive here on a direct H1B. I pretend to read but I am listening to their conversation. The ever eavesdropper. It gets boring after a while and I stop. I try to look at what the guy sitting next to me is holding. He has fell asleep with his wallet open displaying his train pass. He has some 20 $ bills, a few cards and why is he carrrying his SS card around. Dude , not safe. I reach Edison where the train spews out the last of the FOBs, the H1Bs, the ABCDs, the F1s and every other kind of desi including me. I put on my cap and my gloves and crush the snow as I walk to the other side. And I wait for my ride. Squash awaits and arrogant victory too.