Saturday, October 13, 2012

swiss trains are never late ...or are they?

Trains in Switzerland are never late………. You can set your clock by them. Not quite …… least not here in Geneva. Being a commuter, I know this only too well. Where I lived before our recent move, my daily routine consisted of taking a train that arrived at my little one track station at 7.37 am (or 7.38 or even, god forbid, 7.39), getting off 17 mins later to dash for the 7.58 bus that took me to office. Four minutes …………. perfectly timed for the average Swiss citizen, to athletically take long quick strides to the bus stop and reach there with all of 24 seconds to spare. Catch is ……the timetables are probably made by makers of Swiss clocks, no accounting for real people or real life.  
Not only was the train often a minute late to start with, we picked up delays along the way. At that hour the train is filled with college going kids. Surprise of surprises, Swiss youngsters are no different from their counterparts the world over. At every stop we would have young people ‘keeping the automatic doors open’ for friends who were still making a dash for the platform, for those there were still buying tickets and often for a friend who was trying to finish a smoke!. And just when you hear the doors starting to close and you look at the nano second hand on the watch with relief ...........………….whoosh, they open again;  while an obviously helpless sounding announcer repeats in ever increasing cresendo of frustration  ‘ dégager les portes s’il vous plait’ .
I mastered the art of using the compartment closest to the exit point at the station, standing at the door so that I could be the first to tumble out when they opened (a full 18.2 seconds shaved), doing cardio practice to up my running pace, never mind the occasional unbecoming falls on black ice or the embarrassment of my shoe heal being caught in the grill of a vent covering …………..but at least once a week, nothing helped and I would reach the stop to see the almost evilly blinking back lights of the #28 gliding gleefully past, signaling a 17 minute wait for the next one. Us poor stranded passengers would while away the time grumbling about the inflexibility of Swiss transport.
A few months ago, I related my train woes to a friend back home in India and she said 'oh thats like India. Thats a cliché bursted. So how late are they?’ ……….'Oh 2 mins. Maybe sometime even three full minutes’ …………She gave me an incomprehensible roll of the eyeballs and burst into laughter. ……….i know, I know …………..I guess, Switzerland has started to seep in!!

1 comment:

  1. enjoyed it very much.Wish you share your experiences more often.


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