Saturday, March 19, 2005

Aum Shinrikyo &Tokyo subway- Looking past the paranoia

Monday, 20 March, 1995 was for most a normal workday, though the following day was a national holiday. The attack came at the peak of the Monday morning rush hour on one of the world's busiest commuter transport systems.

The liquid sarin was contained in plastic bags which each team then wrapped in newspapers. Each perpetrator carried two packets of sarin totalling approximately 1 litre of sarin, except Hayashi Yasuo, who carried three bags. A single drop of sarin the size of the head of a pin can kill an adult .
Carrying their packets of sarin and umbrellas with sharpened tips, the perpetrators boarded their appointed trains; at prearranged stations, each perpetrator dropped his package and punctured it several times with the sharpened tip of his umbrella before escaping to his accomplice's waiting get-away car.

Been using the subway system ever since I got here. See people relaxed enough to sleep. They miraculously wake up once their destination arrives. Myself have been relaxed, at times, to wander off

The Tokyo subway system transports millions of passengers daily. During rush hour trains are frequently so crowded that it is impossible to move.

I have friends asking me if I have yet been pushed/stuffed inside the subway by the white gloved attendants. Lucky me, not yet. Though somedays in the morning, I have a feeling my luck might be drawing to a close. A friend also forwarded me a link to the gropefest that apparently goes on in the subway. Lucky me again. ( Won’t say more about that , don’t want to push my luck.). So yes, the tokyo metro system is crowded. The only time its not, is on national holidays. And, an empty subway is the only indicator of a day off for me. But by then , I am already halfway to work so I get in there and do my stuff. There goes my day off :)

Some days back, I got honked at by the subway driver. I thought nothing of it then. When the train stopped, I got in. An elderly japanese gentleman ( btw, am most of the time, the only foreigner in the area.........gets a lil disconcerting at times), made his way to me and asked to be excused. I took out my earphones and smiled. He told me (in english) that I got honked at because I was walking out side the yellow line on the track and its not safe to do so. He also advised me to walk inside of the yellow line, in future.

Today , as soon as the train stopped at a major station, two attendants who had been waiting, rolled out planks which then made a platform between the train and the tracks. There was a disabled person on board who needed to be helped out. The entire thing took less than a minute and and train was on schedule. ( The trains here run on a frequency of one every 5 mins or so and are fairly punctual). And just yesterday my boss was talking about cities in japan not really well planned to accommodate the needs of disabled people.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that there are problems in every system. life is a lot easier if people accept that but instead of being complacent about it, actually do something positive about it. Drastic changes do need to be made, but while we wait for those to take place, can we be human, reach out , even beyond artificial barriers of language and just help. Japanese people are doing it and it is a way of life. So much so that a gaijjin (foreigner) like me notices, and adapts it in her own life.

Did some one say hope floats?


SeaSwallowMe said...

yeah, bilbo ... i hear you.

life goes on, regardless. but i guess it's smoother when people take the initiative to do the little things.

there was a huge quake in this area a long while ago, and a double-decker section of a highway was pancaked. i remember, for quite a while after that, driving in the lower level of any double-decker roadway used to give me the creeps.

Ubermensch said...

Nice weave touching several issues without heavy emotions...keep writing.
Could absolutely relate to your feelings on subways,I dunno whether you have been to london,it takes just a moment to fall in love with the system....

buckwaasur said...

nice one there bilbo...yeah, it's the little things that add up...boond boond se dariya and all that jazz...:-)

asuph said...

wow, bilbo, your writing seemes to attract the big guys :D, so I'm here to spoil the purfect record. okay, enuff kidding for the month.

nice blog, you have a very matter of fact style of writing -- no frills. I like that. No preaching (well almost none), and yet you put your point across quite well.

keep writing,