Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Trains of Life

With the time for me to be going back to the UK getting ever closer, people are continually asking me whether I will be getting dropped off at the airport, or if I will indulge in the Gautrain.  My answer is, and always will be, I use the train enough in England, why would I want to use it here.  Especially when I have a perfectly good car, and for that matter, chauffeur, who will drive me right to the airport doors.  From this answer, I'm sure you can gather, that I am not the fondest of trains, or buses, or in fact taxis (English ones, we all know everyone loathes South African ones).

 The reason you see, is an overindulgence in trains (and buses).  The first time I was on a train it was very exciting, new and somewhat fun.  You stare out the window and watch the scenery whizzing past, it's peaceful and quiet in your safe little earphoned world.  Yes, what a change to back in SA.  Fast forward a year down the line, trains, why they're just not so much fun anymore.

When I lived in Cornwall I endured a lot of 7 hour train journeys.  These journeys were far from the exciting ones I had once experienced.  Firstly, they were a good few hours longer, then there was the cramped noisy undelightfully smelling cabins.  Airplanes I can endure, but trains, not so much.  I recall one occasion when someone nearby was eating something that smelled like a mixture of sweat and something that had died (remember, no open windows!) then, despite my subtle glares at anyone who tried to sit next to me, a rather large man decided to invade my little sanctum regardless.  Not only did I have to squash myself against the window, but his sweaty arm still kept bumping mine.  He smelt funny, like old people and sweat, and he just sat staring at the back of the chair.  Just a bit freaky deaky.

But endured I did, I breathed in fresh clean train fumes when I stumbled out from that trip.  Fortunately I didn't have to take a bus anywhere.  Buses are even more of a "least favourite" for me.  One either has to sit squashed next to blank looking mothers with their screeching children, or stand in the aisle, and endure occasionally bumping into another passenger in a very uncomfortable way.  Not only is the journey car sickening, one still has to wait for wasted minutes hanging around bus stop on the sides of roads.  In the rain, sometimes even the snow.  Oh what fun.

My worst bus journey was a late night trip back from work.  I somehow managed to find myself seated in front of a very inebriated old man.  He was sitting right forward, so that he was almost breathing down the back of my neck, leaving me to crane awkwardly forward without looking too obvious.  Then he kept tapping me on the shoulder, I tried my best to ignore him, but he was relentless.  I turned around slightly with what I hoped was an unimpressed look on my face, he wanted to know what the time was.  First off, my watch was beneath many layers of sleeves and gloves, and second off, his watch was winking at me from his wrist.  I gave him a vague answer and turned away, twisting myself even further away (and no I couldn't have moved, the bus was full... of drunk old men).  It was then that my ipod decided to give up, so now I was stuck with no way to ignore him.  He was still tapping my shoulder.  I stubbornly kept my earphones in, leaned forward, and spent a very uncomfortable, very car sick hour back home.

Another incident occurred on my way to college.  I was sitting near the front, on one of the fold down seats, and sitting across from me was a chavvy man with his child bride and bratty children.  Not to be rude or anything.  As the bus lurched to the side, this man fell forwards, right towards me.  I'm not sure who was more surprised, him or me, when he grabbed my leg in an attempt to stop falling.  I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head, and I watched him apologize silently for a second before I realized I couldn't hear anything with my earphones in.  I simply did a somewhat scared smile and turned away to stare out the window, which incidentally was also very uncomfortable, what with the window being directly behind me.

So, with those journeys being the cherry on top of my dislike for public transport, my reasoning for not wanting to take the Gautrain is, I think, perfectly sound.  On to the airport, on to the plane.  Oh my, don't even get me started on flights.


1 comment:

  1. I love train journeys into London or down to Brighton or to Chichester - maybe because of the excitement of the destination. But I enjoy sitting and watching the countryside dashing past the windows. It is more enjoyable if you have someone to travel with...

    I do see your point of view - if you do it everyday to get to work or college - that it might become less fun...

    The Gautrain was just another tube ride for me, and not so exciting because I was leaving my little family behind.

    Here's hoping that you and I have some happy [train] journeys together.