Thursday, March 30, 2006

Last night's train journey

I am sitting on the train with the beginnings of a headache. To the west, behind the clouds the sky is pale blue with deep magenta slashes through it. The reflections of the city lights in the train windows are superimposed on the last remnants of the sunset.

The train is starting to fill with passengers, eager to get home to dinner and the evening's television programs. They read books, newspapers, office documents. Each is sitting in their own bubble of personal space, their own island of discontent.

The season is changing. There is a chill in the air now, at night. Brown leaves are starting to appear on the ground, but strangely the trees are still outwardly verdant.

We are out of the city loop now - out of the noisy, cuving, concrete tunnels. The train sways on its journey along the tracks, stopping at all the little inner city stations: West Richmond, North Richmond, Collingwood, Victoria Park. It is too late for the express trains now - the fast bustling trains ferrying anxious commuters to and from their tall office blocks in the CBD. No, this is a lazy train, taking its time as it winds its way to the leafy north-eastern suburbs.

I miss living in the inner city. I miss being able to jump on and off trams, and walking home once the trams had stopped running at midnight. I miss the convenience of short distances and milk bars on corners.

This train journey is a new thing in my life - a different type of time. It is an in-between time, a time that is not nothing, but is not really something either.

What do people do on trains? Do they do different things from normal? Do they think different thoughts? Would the man sitting opposite me really read The Amulet of Samarkand if he were somewhere else? Would the man on the other side of the carriage read MX if he were at home? Would I be writing this if I were not on the train?

3 comments:

bookfraud said...

i live in a big city, and taking trains is my way of life. i don't know if they change behavior -- i can't say i've read a book on the train to impress, or otherwise. it does make me crankier.

wife and i were down under on holiday a year or so ago, but didn't make it to melbourne. wish we had. next trip.

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