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[24] Beijing Subway
Jacques 2012-06-24 22:24

8:15 AM in the morning, when you walk down the stairs to the platform of Subway Line 10, in front of each pair of closed automated glass doors, there are two or three people waiting while staring into the lighted posters along the wall or the dark tunnel from which the next train is about to emerge. Here comes the first choice of your day: which pair of doors? It’s not just about the doors through which you’ll get onto the train, it’s more about the people who are now waiting there, who you’ll soon be pushing against, who you’ll have body contact with for the next 20 minutes -- in such a humid summer morning. These 4 school kids? No, too loud. That fat guy oozing sweat? A definitely no. Keep walking. This middle-aged guy seems fine, oh, didn’t notice his large suitcase - doomed to be a huge trouble at this time of day... Okay, this lady looks decent, oh, God, what a body odor! So you have to wave to an imaginary acquaintance in a distance and curve around that lady, then finally settle behind a skinny white-collared guy who could just be one of your colleagues.

The train comes, gushing out floods of people and sucking in fresh ones, like a sneeze followed by a deep breath. And with that seemingly irresistible force, you are now on the train, back to back with the skinny guy, luckily getting hold of the steel pole, face towards that little TV above the window. On the screen it shows three things alternately: the real time traffic, short skits with cartoon figures which are supposed to be funny, and, as soon as you finally get interested in that lame cartoon, the name of the next stop in large font. Maybe it’s not the TV who is impatient, it’s you! I totally understand, morning subway can be frustrating as hell, but come on, things could be a lot worse. Just think about Line 1...

All right, the train stopped, more exchange of people, and the doors shut again. Kind of weird, the inside of the train suddenly seems quiet to you. You peek around, people all sinking into their own little worlds. Books, phones, iPads. Eyes reflecting words, eyes reflecting movies, eyes reflecting yesterday or tomorrow, eyes reflecting nothing. The boy holding that book could totally be a disguised God of Death writing someone’s name on his wicked notebook, and that bearded old man dozing in the corner could be a CEO who want to show how casual he can be or a Kongfu master who can only get his spirit distilled in such a worldly crowd. You never know. Just thinking of all these floating little worlds makes you a little out of breath, not only they’re taking air from you, they’re also taking your very body as part of themselves. You are becoming the building block of each of these little day dreams.

Ok, probably you’ve gone a little too far. Let’s focus on something real. Ah, that twenty something girl over there is really good-looking. Shiny suave hair like in a Head & Shoulders commercial, light eye shades smartly accentuating the brightness of her eyes, and the rosy lips completing a face which doesn’t usually belong here. It just feel more appropriate for this face to be seen behind the window of a taxi or something. Why is she taking the subway? Maybe she is one of those insecure girls for whom the comfort from a taxi ride can never compensate for the risk of being late for work. Or, she just thinks that taking subway is such an indispensable part of the metropolitan life that she should never miss it, even if her impeccable appearance is no less a priority. This would be such a virtue! Oh wait, this can be a little unfair to all the normal looking people, me included. Probably, the reason we don’t look as delicate is not that we think less of ourselves or we are lazy, but in our subconscious we believe in harmony more than distinctiveness, and being natural (meaning not washing one’s face or combing one’s hair) goes perfectly harmonious with the rush-hour train, like they say, “a drop of water in the water”. On the subway, it’s not about acquiring attention, it’s all about ignoring and being ignored... Gosh, if I stay on this train for 5 more minutes, I’ll become a philosopher...

Thank God you’re now off the train. Your mind is freer and lighter but you body still sweats like spaghetti fresh out of boiling water. Right, we were all like spaghettis, bundled in the subway, touching, softening, blurring. Each one is so different inside, but together, we tunnel through the passage from the 7 o’clock dream to the 9 o’clock reality...

Come on, this is bullshit, my philosopher. It’s not your last time to take the subway! Look at your iPhone, it’s already 9:05 AM. You’re late for the meeting with the CEO. Can this get any more real, ha? Have you finally woken up?

Run! Just run!


◇ 谭湘源 2012-07-23 22:20 #3

◇ flyingring 2012-07-23 06:38 #2


◇ 锦绣 2012-07-14 15:46 #1
hahaha,The article is sooooo cute!
recommend to our dear chief editor Fanfan WANG!!


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