Monday, April 24, 2006

It happened on a train of mine

I have come across many random things and experiences in Japan, most of them occuring on the train. Here are some train adventures of mine.

Train Story 1:
I have slowly mastered the train stair trek. That is trying to run up the stairs while people who just got off the train are making their way down. You have to be ruthless, darting and dodging your way upstream. My small steps become leaps as I miss every second step to make it to the doors before they close.

One day I just made it onto the train with the doors just closing behind me. I was puffed and out of breath but I didn't care because I managed to get on a rapid train and there was a free seat for me! I sat down by the window and caught my breath. At the next stop, this guy comes and sits next to me. He is holding this big bag clutched to his chest. Normal, right? If only!

This guy smelt SO bad. It wasn't body odour, bad breath or cigarette smoke, he reeked of something so revolting my gag-spasm kicked in. The smell almost made my eyes water. The best way I can describe it is as if someone had urinated on some haw flakes (you know the ones, those red, flat, round chinese sweets - I've never liked them, what the hell is a haw anyway?) and left them out in the sun to dry, then poured still-smokin' cigarettes and ash all over them, topped with 3 day old vomit.

I tried looking into his bag to see if maybe that was the source of the stench, perhaps he was carrying his dead cat (from 2 years ago) to the vet, but all I could make out was some plastic, cylinder container. I couldn't take it anymore and started coughing - it was the only way I could breathe. I rummaged through my bag and took out my lipgloss (which smells deliciously sweet) and liberally applied it to mask the smell. Then I took out my hand cream (which smells deliciously like roses) and liberally applied that. Thankfully the guy got off two stops later.

Train Story 2:
I was waiting for the train one evening and as the doors opened right in front of me, I looked up and saw one of my students. When they're not in their school uniform, it's a bit hard to recognise them but I remembered this 1st year student because he was very good at english in my class. I smiled and said hello but he didn't recognise me at first. I guess maybe because I wasn't in usual work clothes. Then suddenly it registered in his head who I was and he started bowing shyly. I couldn't help but laugh thinking 'chill, calm down, I'm just a normal person too'. I got on the train and he continued doing these little bowing nods as he turned around and faced me and got of the train backwards. He was so cute.

Train Story 3:
This actually happened to a friend of mine.
He was sitting in a train carriage taking one of the last trains home. There was this one guy who was really, really, totally, very well smashed. Suddenly he yakked on the train. Yeah no big deal, been there, done that. But this dude yakked projectile spew. His ramen noodles were running down the windows and chunks of mabo-tofu made pools on the floor. Hmm tasty.

Can't think of anymore right now, but every train ride in Japan is an adventure. Especially during peak hours when you are squashed up, arm pit level, in a human sardine tin on rails. Fun.


At 11:18 am, Anonymous ee lin said...

hello!! i've been reading ur blog for sometime...and i really love ur entries!=)

ewww...haha, the way u describe the smell...i'm sure u had a hard time holding ur breath! =S

At 9:07 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i so hear you! perth trains are so dodgy. one evening at about 8 something, there was this guy falling asleep while he was holding his wallet out in one hand and $20 in the other. he ended up dropping the money. everyone sitting opposite him looked at each other till the guy closest to him nudged him and told him to pick it up and watch himself.

At 10:44 am, Blogger Nami said...

Enroute to the city centre, my sis and I were crammed up on a train headed to Tokyo at about 8 in the morning. We'd just filled ourselves up on Gyu-don so imagine how stress of trying not to hurl at the smell of the sarariman's underarms. (we both stand at an amazing 1.5m, perfect to sniff japanese salaryman's 'pits!)

At 9:26 pm, Anonymous B said...

i was riding home on the freeway last night and the lane i was in merged with one of those livestock sheep transports ... i immediately thought of this post whilst gagging and trying not to throw up with my new helmet on :P

At 10:37 am, Blogger Christine said...

ee lin - Thanks! It was torture I tell ya.

nami - Peak hour in Tokyo?! Eeeks! I accidentally got on a train in Osaka during the after work rush and it was madness! Tokyo would have been even more crazy. I'm salaryman armpit height too and having a stranger literally breath down your neck, squashed up agasint you is not cool. Gyu-don for breakfast - NICE!

b - Throw up in your new helmet?! Heaven forbid! At least you could just speed up and overtake it.


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