23. Metro Race

Friday afternoon, Shanghai. I’m doing “a round way” to Shanghai South Railway Station, as I wanted to do it recently. Now I switched to Metro Line 11. Sitting in train heading toward Xujiahui, somehow I thought about situation I call “Metro Race”. It’s about the moment when people are in rush to have a sit in Metro.

In Chinese case it’s more funny as people here are very peaceful, the “rat rush” is rather unknown here, however, when it goes about sitting place in metro… it’s a bit different. As people are normally calm, in Metro or sometimes even in the bus, they get crazy and like the wild they entrance the train or the bus even if other passengers who hadn’t get out of metro/bus yet.

So incredible experience! It happens on every Metro Line, or on most of them. I think I don’t have to describe the situation how it looks like, however I’ll write as short as possible how it looks like and where it happens. Just imagine how the rush hour looks like: both morning and afternoon/evening; for example Line 2, Tangzhen Metro Station. This is one of two “interchange” stations (within Guanglan Road) which due to the specific role they have: separating Line 2 onto two independent lines where one is East Xujing-Guanglan Road/Tangzhen and Guanglan Road/Tangzhen-Pudong Airport.

To go from stations before Tangzhen in direction to the City Center, you have an interchange on Tangzhen (Rush hour) or Guanglan Road (most of “interchange”). What you’ve here? A crowd of people getting out from both trains: one from the City Center and one from Pudong Airport. The column of people almost smash into eachother. But this is not topic. The clue is the behavior while such an example like Guanglan Road/Tangzhen; or like on the most busiest stations of Shanghai, like: all stations on Line 2 from People’s Square to Century Avenue – maybe expect Dongchang Road Station; Longyang Road (also Line 2), Xujiahui (Line 1, 9 and 11), etc.

On those mentioned stations and more other busy like these, and also on some beginning stations of any Metro Line (Line 16 is a vet good example) there you can observe “Metro Race”. It’s in one hand a nice experience – to feel somehow a population of Shanghai (36 million people!) – in the other hand it’s a little bit creepy, specially when you’re carrying luggage or other values – as this is a perfect situation for pickpockets to steal something. However, me myself – knock knock the wood – I never was stolen from anything, just at once because of my fault I lost the watch, nevertheless it’s quite stressful situation.

The most I like to watch how people, specially the old one, are passing through the passengers, just to have a sit in Metro… So strange. If on Olympic Games were a such competition like “Metro Rush” or something like this, I think they – Chinese people – could win this competition. They are just masters in going through people, finding even a small space between door and passengers, just ONLY to have a sit! My God, it wouldn’t be easier to wait until all passengers will get out from the train and then you can in peace have a sit?

Such a situation is a paradox of Chinese behavior in everyday life. Once my friend told me it’s about “to take care of yourself, only you can count on yourself, and the only your wellness is important”. In other words it’s about not making body tired…

This is such a curiosity from my everyday life in Shanghai. I was wondering a long time how to describe a such experience, which situation to describe etc. But just now, driving with Metro Line 11, which now is almost “empty” I mentioned these situations, to write something about them.

The thought that is coming with this writing is: do we have to rush in our life for just “a little bit of” comfort? How do we measure “the body rest” – also the mind rest – if we rush in our life and smash with a crowd, no matter if this is a crowd of people, cars on the street – the situation and behavior is universal… Sometimes or even often, we stress ourselves too much. Yet, here such a “stress” is let’s say “the only one”, but anywhere…? Within these thoughts through I arrive at Xujiahui Station and go ahead to Line 1.

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