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I Like Trains

1 April 2021

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I Like Trains – Sammar Bassal

The thought occurs to me as I wait at the platform, five minutes before the next train will arrive. The sky has cleared up from the rain, and all I can do now is wait. My bag is full, and the choice is mine. How will I use the time it takes to get me from point A to B.

The first goal, however, is to get the right seat. Aim for one of the two-seaters and both seats will be all mine. Get stuck with one of the four or six-seaters and I will probably have to expect close company. It’s lucky it’s not peak hour though, or thinking about seats at all would be pointless.

The train slowly snakes into the platform and I prepare myself. From there I’ll see what I can do. If I snag a two-seater, it’ll be time to draw. Or maybe study. Nope, who am I kidding, drawing it will be. If I don’t, it’ll be music time. The perfect time to pretend I’m in my own movie. Earphones in, staring into the distance and hoping someone views me as a curious individual with serious thoughts. What they imagine I’m thinking about would be up to them.

I’ve picked my carriage, third from the front. I’ve chosen my door, the last of the carriage. All in hope that it will match up with the myki readers on the station when I get off. The doors open, but I must not be rude. I stand aside, wait for everyone to get off and then hope for the best. There are others waiting with me, maybe with the same thoughts as mine. Some of them are a group of friends, four in total. Less competition in my eyes.

I make it in. To my luck, a two-seater to my right. I sit down, breath a sigh of relief and pull out my sketchbook. It is time to look like I am being productive. I pull out a pen and wait to see what I will draw. I can’t draw the people in front, they’ll get suspicious. You can’t hide the fact that you’re drawing or staring at someone on the train. Unless it’s night time, then there are reflections you can  stare at. But now it is the day, and there’s no reflections in the windows, just views.

So I wait, for the random things that I will draw. I often draw on trains. Observational drawings. The train traffic lights, the bins or the platforms. Whatever is in front of me, I will try to draw. It becomes a bit hard when the train is moving so, in the two minutes it takes in between platforms,
I improvise. Maybe try imagining the design of a new character. Maybe try drawing whatever is in the train, the seats, the doors, anything that doesn’t stare back.

When the train pulls to a stop it’s time to draw something related to the station, and when it leaves it’ll be time to focus on the train itself. I wonder what went into deciding the interior of the train, what the considerations were. People with disabilities, peak hour rush, platform heights and comfort are a few I can think of, but I don’t know what else. What makes a newer train model more capable of catering to these thoughts than an older one? Who knows. They’re all still in use. All with the same goal of getting people to where they need to be. The train moves on.

The doors close with a beep and a slam. Now onto the next stop, and repeat. As I predicted, the train starts to fill up, slowly but surely. The two-seater however is still my own. People are standing, waiting because they want their own space as well. My page slowly fills up, although thinking of stuff to draw can be difficult sometimes. The page is half full when I finally arrive at my destination. My predetermined point B. I close my book. Double check, and then triple check that I have all my belongings on me, then start getting ready to move. I slide out of my seat towards the automatic doors. I am the first one there, so it becomes my responsibility to open the doors.
The train slowly comes to a halt, there are people waiting outside. Some moving away from the doors, others waiting to barge in the moment everyone disembarks.

A loud beep comes and it is time to leave the train. I can only predict what my journey back will be like.