I had a meeting in Manila, near La Salle, my old haunt. Considering where I live, I thought it would be faster, cheaper, and more efficient to travel by the Metro Rail Transit. I was kind of happy because I’d be taking Line 2, the Santolan to Recto route, which is the best train service in the country, really.
The trains of Line 2 are big and spacious. Even during rush hour, it never really fills up, not like a can of sardines which is the best way to describe Line 3, the EDSA route. On this particular day, just a little bit after lunch, I got on at Cubao station and then took the train all the way to Recto. The trip was magnificent and languid. I played songs that really fit the moment on my iPod and sort of found myself feeling like I was in a foreign country, off to do some exciting new venture. In a strange way, from a different perspective, both statements could be true.
Manila is foreign to me again. There are lots of new buildings and re-routing has taken place. I’m re-learning the city and it’s an enjoyable experience. And yes, the meeting I was attending was yet another brand new venture. Another project in the wings that will get me to expand my repertoire of writing skills and will make use of all my experience working in the media.
It was quite exciting, on that train, heading off to something new.
I remember getting all excited about taking the train when I had gone abroad. I feel very blessed and lucky to have been able to try out the train systems in Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing, Melbourne, and Sydney. Each one had their own little details that made each one so very enjoyable. I have been to Hong Kong quite a lot and am quite familiar with that system quite well. I just need a quick stop at the map in the station to re-familiarize myself and I’ll be moving along there without a hitch, for sure. I’m quite fond of the Hong Kong rail transit.
In Singapore, one of the things that really stuck to my mind was heading out towards the Irish/British district to meet up with a new acquaintance who told me to go to this bar to watch this band. It was after dinner and the train was practically empty and in the seat across me, a young man and woman, obviously lovers and most probably still in school were huddled together, each holding a plastic bag with newly bought books. He had bought what appeared to be a crime or mystery book. There was blood on the cover design and the font was quite eerie. The girl had bought a biography of some lady, I’m thinking she might have been a cook or a chef or something.
I was so enamored by the idea of two students who bought books and are on their way home. It was a really good feeling to have, especially since, at the time, I was feeling quite frightened about the literacy rate of the next generation. At that moment, on that train in Singapore, I saw that I didn’t have to worry too much.
In Sydney, I took the train out to Blacktown and Cabramatta and another suburb. It was exciting. It felt like the cross country train we took from Rome to Florence when I was eighteen and traveling with my family during our one and only foreign trip together as a family.
I love being in trains and how you imbibe this feeling that something is going to happen. I think it is a romanticized idea that somehow stems from loving modern things and literature and forward motion. The path is set for you. You are on your way. You will get to your destination. What happens in between, well, that’s up to you. There are so many possibilities there. You just have to do it.
I love trains.