Saturday, 27 July 2019

Train trips: One

This is a new series of posts with a single theme. I’m not sure how long this series will go for but you can let me know in the comments how you like it.

16 July

Got the train back from Newtown. I waited nine minutes on the platform for the train, which was heading to Town Hall and Circular Quay. A woman who had somehow caught my eye moved to the edge of the platform and got onto the carriage first, going downstairs. I went upstairs and sat down on the seat nearest the aisle, one of three on the bench. A young guy who had been sitting on a seat in front of me got off at Redfern. He wore a hoodie and wheeled a small suitcase. I got off at Central and went to the light rail platform.

A tram came but didn't stop to let on passengers so I sat down at about 7.45pm to wait for the next one, which came after about six minutes. After I got on an Asian guy who smelled strongly of alcohol sat down next to me, but then stood up and moved to a different seat before the tram started moving. A transport company staffer, a woman who might have been Indian, spoke in her native language with another staffer, a man, before he went off toward the front of the train. The woman, who wore a hi-vis vest, hung from a strap and played with the heel of her right shoe with the toe of her left shoe.

Next to me a woman wearing a white sweater and blue jeans sat down and started using her mobile phone to talk with someone via a messaging application. I could see her reflection in the window as by this time it was dark outside. I got off at the casino and walked home, stopping at one of the pubs on the corner of John Street to take some cash out of the ATM. A young man and a young woman were eating dinner at a table in the front bar.

20 July

Caught the train back home from Newtown. Arrived on the platform of the station and there was about a minute for me to wait. It was crowded and I had to find an unoccupied area where I could sneeze into my hands.

I sat down in the mezzanine area of one carriage near the front of the train when it arrived. Two women opposite me were using their phones during the trip but one of them stopped and put her phone in her black handbag. Both of the women who were using their phones got off the train at Redfern. Then, from the next carriage toward the back of the train, another woman entered my carriage and when she sat down she started using her phone as well. She sat in the same seat one of the women who had got off at Redfern had used.

At Central Station I got off the train and went to the light rail platform. I had three minutes to wait and the tram soon arrived empty. I sat down near the door and waited. Other people got on, including a group of about six women in their twenties who had a lot of bags that they set down on the floor near the door. When the tram stopped at Capital Square they had to move their stuff to allow people to get on.

A woman with two teenage daughters sat down next to me and her husband and the girls stood in front of her and talked. “Is that Chinatown?” one of the girls asked when we were near Dixon Street. “Are we near the Rocks?” she asked a bit later. Then, “Is Chinatown near the Rocks?” I wanted to answer but kept my mouth shut. They were Australian but had evidently come from a different city.

A man and his wife were sitting near me and they spoke French. Earlier in the afternoon a man and a woman and three young girls had been speaking French on the street when I had left home and walked southwest. The French-speaking woman on the tram had a child on her knee, a boy who wore a hoodie. He had dark skin like his mother but the father was Caucasian. The mother put the hood onto the child’s head and the little boy used his hand to take it off it. At 4.50pm the tram stopped at Convention and then later, at the casino, I got off, as usual, and walked home up the hill and down the hill.

26 July

Caught the tram to Central from the casino. When I arrived at the casino, there were still 13 minutes to wait. After I got on the tram I sat down on a seat. The man opposite me, who was Asian, kept looking up slyly as though he were trying to catch me looking at him. I kept my eyes fixed to the Tramsheds ad on the wall behind his head. The ad had, in its bottom-right corner, a “T” cut out in a white stencil with, behind it, a selection of vegetables, including carrots, that evidently you are able to buy at the venue. The carrots were visible behind the stencil and in the “T” shape itself, where the stringy tips of some of the carrots had been artfully placed by the person who had designed the ad.

At Central I got off the tram and used my Opal card to tap off on one of the readers installed on the platform. Then I went through to the barriers leading to the train platforms and used the card again.

I went down to platform 25 but the next train was not stopping at Tempe, my destination, so I looked up the scheduled services on the app on my mobile phone. It showed that one was leaving – I thought – from platform 19 so I rushed up the escalator and up the stairs to that platform. But when I got there there was no sign that such a service was going to run so I looked at the app again and it said to go to platform 25 and that a service would leave there in about 15 minutes’ time. So I went down the stairs and down the escalator again and sat myself down in a seat on the platform to wait.

The train came after about 10 minutes and I got on and went downstairs and sat down in a seat, that was on a bench of three, next to a window. When the train arrived at Tempe I got off and walked along the platform to where the Opal readers are installed and used one of them to tap off, then mounted the stairs to get to the bridge over the tracks. The regular exit with its stairs leading down to the street had been closed off so I followed the signs to get down to the temporary exit, on Richardsons Crescent, and at just before 2pm left the station, heading northwest.

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