Armed with the confidence that the T.T.C. generated in me ,the other day I agreed to take the
Metro ,merrily took the token.. descended on the escalator... it seemed there were teeming millions at the station and I turned to return when my teenaged son firmly held my hand and well there was no turning back …a noisy train with a draft of wind came in jam packed with people like a tin of sardines I refused to get in ,we let the train go the next came in ,in 3 minutes and boy! was it better?!just as bad but before I could resist he yelled it’s the rush hour and pushed me in unceremoniously ..my various phobia’s at their height my protests were inaudible even to my ears drowned in the mass of people, in which it seemed I was securely fitted… that’s population explosion they talk about in India I thought to myself. Delhi
After a few stations sitting on a seat I got thinking of my several trips on the subway in
. Generally my brother drove us Downtown . The first time my sister took me along to familiarize me with the route. Happy in her company, we settled down comfortably on our seats ,animatedly talking our heads off, I barely noticed much . Toronto
I remember the first time I ventured out alone –I was given a heartfelt sendoff by my Mum and my brother came out with his camera and clicked a few pictures with my bag pack that held some homemade food for Dad and my Tiffin for the day, with a smile pasted on my face and butterflies in my stomach (which the camera didn’t capture) .It felt like kindergarten days!
Bravely I set out…. boarded the low floor bus for $3 from Keeler and got down at the
Centre …so far so good. The train came in ,when I entered I was assailed by the aromatic smells of hot chocolate and coffee .I saw quite a few sipping from their private mugs or the paper glasses of Tim Horton’s, Star Bucks ,McDonald’s advertising their wares! Even as we all got out the other set of people walked in as if to refill the train .Along with my co- parrengers I went down 2 flight of stairs on an escalator it seemed into the earth where I hurried into a waiting train which ferries people back and forth from Kennedy to Kipling .All of us settled down in our seats , most of the gentry munching their breakfast ,sipping coffee ,catching up on the morning news buried in the newspapers … it looked like an extended cozy living room . Scarborough Town
Got down at Young/Bloor on an escalator climbed up 2 flight of stairs that opened into a glitzy mall! Walked in its spotlessly clean corridors lined up with stores displaying their swanky wares , and came out in the open at the Marriot just across the
. Made a call home for safe arrival and took their ‘pat on the back’ like words. A triumphant sentiment surrounded me as I walked to meet my Dad who was waiting for me after his physiotherapy. Grace Hospital
Confident that I could travel ,it became a regular feature and I also took my mother along .It is on these innumerable trips that I was an onlooker to so many events of which I’d like to share a few. There never is a dull moment i.e. if you like the hubbub of the hustle /bustle jostle of the crowd…
A couple of siblings were there all over the place trying to balance themselves when the train started and stopped and would go into peals of laughter if either of them could not…stealing our hearts!
I cannot forget my embarrassment when a Canadian citizen back from Guyana enquired whether the train was going to Young .Proudly I explained at length the details on the T.T.C.map on the doorway of the bogie until she chimed out that most of her life she had been staying Downtown and it was only a couple of years she had moved to Markham . Her query was by way of a confirmation of what she already knew! Just before alighting at Woodbine station she asked off handedly as to where were we going Mum answered Victoria… and since the doors had already swung open we let the slip be ….until a very concerned young man questioningly asked Mum,. Victoria Park?!Mum grinned and told him it was just a slip of the tongue . (Victoria Park is close to where we boarded the train at Kennedy!)
A young lady had enough time for a makeover .Her deft fingers extracting innumerable tubes and brushes from her Marry Popppin’s like bag , working on her face .While she was at it we were all waiting with baited breath to see the transition. She sure bedazzled everyone and reminded me of the ‘before’ and ‘after’ad in a glamorous magazine.
A lissome, beautiful, tall Chinese couple couldn’t get off each other’s arms if I was not polite enough not to avert my eyes I am sure I would not have missed a romantic scene on the T.V. soap .
A frame that could be incorporated in a Hollywood/Bollywood is that of a couple who walked in with the lady animatedly voicing some discontent .,until her man caught the lapel of her coat and jerked the unsuspecting lady towards him and kissed her squarely on her lips only to have a huge smile on oh so beautiful a face and was stunned her into dissolving her animosity into a shy laughter…her furtive glance saw an appreciative sparkle in the audience .I almost heard a thunderous applause!
Visualize a walkie talkie Doll ! well a walkie talkie doll like girl made a grand entrance waving her hand with a loud Good Morning! to no one in particular rosy cheeks dimpled chin and all she had us all gazing at her lovingly to see more of her vivacious self… what grace! what style –Many of us made place for her to sit. She did not oblige anyone .She sat quietly next to her mother with a stroller that held her sibling .That was all we had of her theatrical entrance!
A bunch of young boys boarded the train and for the next half and hour they were giggling reminiscing their school days together laughing uproariously about who was suspended for what, the intolerable teacher the great lovable teachers ,the parental punishments, the painful stopping of their pocket money …now in college pursuing higher studies … They regaled us ,we had our memories entwined in their reminiscing and when they alighted the compartment suddenly felt very quiet , could almost hear the crickets chirp!
Once at the starting point at Kennedy saw a tramp asleep even before the train started . He continued to do so through out the journey . No one sat next to him. Oblivious of the revulsion he was causing with his torn jeans and the stink he blissfully snored above the noise of the train! I guess Kipling was his destination!
One day a thought just floated in my head that I had such baseless fears about the subway , and to my mind I was laughing at the fuss I had created in the household… thoroughly enjoying my ride I heard the announcement of the next station Greenwood Station made by a well modulated female voice …and suddenly I felt the train slowing down . I willed it to reach
…that was not to be . It JUST STOPPED!!!!!!!!!!!!!in the middle of nowhere. I could see the black walls and a terrible claustrophobia set in . I broke out in cold sweat. My Mum had not come with me that day and I felt I would choke. I looked at my fellow travelers all of them oblivious of my condition I was in. None seemed to find anything amiss and they continued to do what they were at ..the kids were jabbering, the old gentleman was immersed in his newspaper, a glamorous young woman had her nose in a glamorous magazine, the girl seated next to me had her earphones securely in her ears swaying gently to the music perhaps…I wanted to call home but the niggling fear of what if the signal didn’t work ?..that would trigger more panic !With a herculean effort I calmed my jangled nerves and while my mind overworked with a zillion negative thoughts and was adding another zillion there was this slight movement ! My whole being was suffused with a golden relief I breathed easy …those five minutes gave me a taste of time standing still! Greenwood
In one of our trips looking out at the vibrant colours of the fall Mum went into the recess of her mind and extracted a lovely poem she had learnt in grade five….
October gave a party
The leaves by hundreds came
The chestnuts, Oaks and Maples
And leaves of every name
The sunshine spread a carpet
And everything was grand
Miss weather lead the dancing
Professor wind the band!
With the poem we admired the canvas that God had so meticulously painted for us to enjoy and enjoy we did on many of our trips witnessing the change of colors in the trees and one fine day to our wonder we saw the Junipers the Pine trees which had been hidden in the thick foliage of the Maple Oak, Birch ,looking resplendent , dressed in green, in contrast to the now nude Maple, Chestnut ,Birch .From then on we saw the skeletons of the trees . It was fascinating. It seemed that each one had been drawn with a pencil with a steady hand .The trunk and stems drawn so artistically! Each tree uniquely made . After a snow fall they were beautifully dressed in white. Soon after a couple of days we saw them don a green hue .So Beautiful! You see moss had covered them after the snow had melted.
On another day Mum pointing out to the birds came up with another of her poems she had learnt in the yesteryears …
Goodbye goodbye to summer
For summer is nearly done
The garden smiling faintly
Cool breeze is in the sun
The thrushes now are silent
The swallows flown away
But robins here in coat of brown
And scarlet breast not gay!
Our train once stopped near a well maintained lawn on it ,there were a couple of neat shadows of the silhouettes of the leafless trees with a couple of birds . Picture perfect it was !Wish I had captured it on my camera.
Together we would admire the beautiful maple leaf carpet getting thicker and leaves on the trees getting rarer .The carpet on the ground slowly changing into different shades of brown with every passing day ,the leaves in no way looked pestilence stricken as Shelly had seen them in his Ode To The West Wind.
Every time my brother drove us down the Don Valley Parkway he’d invariably remark that ,‘Algonquin Park’s beauty if not excelled is at least equaled here’.I saw the detailed colourful canvas every time the subway train emerged from the tunnel over the bridge on the Don Valley. I would get up from my seat and gaze out of the window taking in the birds eye view of the visual delight (amazingly each time I would spot something new! ) and share my pleasure with my Mum’s knowing smile!!!!!