mardi 23 septembre 2008

Subway city

I'm a 'down below' kind of commuter. In fact, I spend an hour of my day sat in a metal tube on wheels, hurtling through tunnels far below Paris. This is kind of new to me, and a bit odd.

I'm not sure how I feel about commuting underground. I don't take the Metro, I take the RER (fewer stops, faster) and it is an unusual way to travel.

Firstly, no matter what the weather outside, it is always boiling hot in the RER. Hotter even than the Metro. People either take their coats off and hold them all bundled up in their arms or they keep them on and sweat. Which leads me to my second point...

The RER stinks. I'm not sure if it's because the tunnels are close to the sewers, because of the food stalls down there, because of the train fumes or just because of the people sweating their rocks off. I'm guessing that it's all that, plus the added benefit of poor ventilation. It's a unique smell. Like fetid cheese left in a bag in the sun. Narsty, is what it is.

But then there are things that I love about this commute. I love going underground, surrounded by traditional Parisian Haussman-style buildings and coming back up again in the middle of the modernity that is the outer reaches of La Defense. I also love that this only takes me twenty-thirty minutes.

I like the people with high-vis jackets and gloves that make sure everyone is on and the doors are shut - giving a necessary shove where a door (or a passenger) needs it. It's an amazing use of manpower to have them lining the platforms of every station - but hey,maybe they're serving some kind of weird community service order? Anyway, they seem to do it with good spirit, even if they do all have the facial expression of hardened French 'service' industry professionals.

I also like the fact that you get a free newspaper in the morning and a different one in the evening. Keeps me up to date, informed and tells me where the next strike in the system is going to be - ah yes, the season of strikes is almost upon us....

And I really love the fact that while everyone else is staring at their shoes, bored to bits, I'm happily singing along (in my head, obviously) to American Boy on my iPod.

Oh yes, I'm still stuck with that song.

16 commentaires:

red a dit…

the moment you mentioned RER the smell came back to me- you can leave paris but that smell never leaves you. i'm off to listen to american boy now.

Mike a dit…

hmmm. smells indeed! you know us americans -- we're kind of sensitive to those kinds of things (good OR bad). oh yeah, personal space, too! LOL.

there's nothing like living and commuting in the big city. living in LA, though, is an anomaly. you have to drive everywhere. one of my greatest memories of city life was when i used to live in new york city and rush hour commuting on the 1/9 train to downtown manhattan. it was all about not having to worry about standing in the middle of the car and not falling over. talk about being in a sardine can!

Lane a dit…

Sounds like a good way to travel. Are these overground trains going underground? Can you tell I've never been on the RER:-)

Daryl a dit…

Ah subways. Your RER station people sound like what I have heard of Japans subway pusher/shovers ... here we have someone who stands at the first car and waves a flashlight (hereinafter known as the Waver) at the conducter who is in the middle car of the long line of cars whilst the motorman is in the first car chatting up the Waver... no one pushes us into the car except for the person behind you who wants to get IN ... so they push til you push the person in front of you ... and so on.

There's always a lot more room in summer when people dont wear heavy outerwear .. but then there are always the backpackers who take up as much space as two unbackpacked people ...

Smells .. heat ... we've got all that ... tho the subway cars themselves are ICY cold ... I guess 'they' think if you're pack in like a sardine you wont get cold.

This ride which costs me $2.00 for 10 min of fun ..

:-Daryl

Louise a dit…

All sounds charming except for the heat and smell. Not sure I could handle the smell. Actually not sure about the heat. When I get too hot, I start getting a little crazy. I've never DONE anything crazy, but wild thoughts run through my head, thinking of something to relieve the heat. Every day, I might snap.

I hope you sing loud enough to annoy the other passengers as much as you annoy Debbie! If I were one of the other passengers, I would be amused, and grateful that something got my mind off the heat and the smell.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Red, it's a stunning smell, n'est-ce pas?

Mike - I love LA. I spent a week there last year, staying at the farmer's daughter opposite the Grove. It was funny. The driving everywhere thing is weird though - especially for europeans used to walking...

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Lane, they're underground, overground and truly wombling free! My stretch is all underground, but they are the suburban trains so the 'out of town' stretches are overground. It's fun, and funny.

Daryl, I've experienced the Tokyo pushers - they're a real treat. And they bow as the train pulls away. Classy, like. $2.00 for ten minutes is cool - here it's about the same price...much, much cheaper than london!

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Louise, I hear you on the heat thing. I sometimes reach the point where I'm so hot that I just want to cry. Especially if there's no relief from it to be found. Japan in the summer was a bit like that. I had to run into a starbucks and order iced latte!

A Lewis a dit…

Did you say sweating their rocks off? Or getting their rocks off? As for the heat, I could never do it. I have this little claustrophia deal.....spaces that are too hot, small, or without good cool air flow don't get to have me in them.

conortje a dit…

American Boy hehe I created a Monster. It may be sweaty and smelly but I'd give anything to be there still. Miss you :-)

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Lewis, yet bizarrely you choose a job that is claustrophobic, smelly and hot!

You're a man of mystery...I like it.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Conortje, in the words of Demi Moore, 'ditto'.

come back soon.

aims a dit…

You know darling - I can never imagine you not enjoying yourself. You have such an upbeat way at looking at life and enjoying it.

The underground sounds impressive in an odd sort of way. Are you saying you have people pushers like they do in Japan?

And another question - do you ever miss Lyon?

Lola a dit…

Hey, have you seen Chocoloate and Zucchini blog today? Twelve hours in Paris? Looks like your kind of stuff...

Oh yes, and your post is good too. Enjoyed it. Always do.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Aims, I admit it - i'm a cup half full kind of guy...this week anyway!

I don't miss Lyon - yet. I miss the sunshine a bit, but I look back at those two years as being pretty transitory...I'm not sure my feet ever touched the ground enough there. Sad, isn't it. I think I'll post about this.....

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Lola - thanks for the link - I like the 12 hour suggestions....will be visiting the cheese shop, definitely!