Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Public Transportation Zombies 2: Calm or Dumb.

Yesterday I was almost involved in a tragic disaster involving the light rapid transit (LRT), except that it was more of a bummer. For non-Malaysians, LRT is something like Mass Rapid Transit (MR) that you get in Singapore, except that it’s smaller, more compact and look about as safe as going nudist in crocodile farm.

What surprised me was at that moment, that lasted maybe about two minutes, was how calm Malaysians were. I was in the train as it left Datuk Keramat station heading towards Damai station, seated, reading a collection of Sherlock Holmes pastiches and I heard a slamming sound and instantly the train shut off its light and air con, slowed down and stopped at the next station.

The train door did not open, and I looked back at the crowd in the station, waiting for our train, which looked just as calm as us passengers in the train was. And then, they started moving backwards with still the calm look in the face. Something was wrong. Someone opened the little inlet above the train’s window and immediately smell of burning plastic seeped in. I heard a voice mentioning something about fire….and there was wisp of smoke from the other end of the train. oh-oh, time to panic?

Remember all the disaster scenes involving trains in the movie? Yeah, I was thinking about the scenes in the Batman and Spider-Man movies specifically. Good to have superheroes around, except over here in Malaysia we only have Cicak-Man and Anwar Ibrahim.

While thoughts involving physicists like Michael Bay* and Ron Emmerich* was on my mind, the other passengers were just looking about and looking very blur. Imagine the same scenario in the US for instance, there would be guys yelling “let me out” or girls screaming, “Oh my god” every second, children crying and Nicholas Cage or Will Smith doing something heroic. Here, a dude was trying hard to force open the door, when I noticed that the next coach door was open and people were walking out calmly. I ushered the folks in my coach towards that direction, leaving the door-opening-dude still at it like his entire manhood depended on it. It probably did.

As I walked out I was cursing everyone involved with making train right up to James Watt**, the rest of the folks just stood around, again looking, well, calm in a puzzled way until the announcement came from the PA system, with voice that sounded like a choked goose, saying that the trains will not move and the service will continue “momentarily”. Instantly, everyone was talking to their mobile phones and making their way down to the station and outside…very calmly. Mind you, there was smoke around though we don’t know where it is from. They say, when there’s smoke there’s fire. According to the passengers yesterday, “when there’s smoke, should I call or just text message to save money?”

This brings back to the article I wrote way back when I actively started using the train. Here’s my comment on the passengers, which I described as the scary part: “As the train moved, lolling and bobbing over the track, the passenger, and I am not making this up, were just there still, taking the lolls, the bobs, the bumps and the thumps, their eyes empty as a vacant lot, the expression as still as cave painting and with apparent care for fellow passengers as cats would with spinach”.

Now, here’s something that could have happened that would make scriptwriters wet their pants and us shit in ours, they were just calm. Not cool calm, as their subsequent mating with cell phone showed, but like they just don’t know and don’t care. Should we take it as a blessing or should we care about it. What if there was fire in the train and we couldn’t get out and as fate would have it, Bruce Willis is out of town? Would they just look at each other vacantly and start thinking about cannibalism?

I don’t know, I have not been involved in real public transportation disasters yet. And I sure don’t want to hear the PA system making announcements with Vincent Price’s voice.

*theory: Bang! Boom! Kapow! All die except the hero and his chums.

**invented the tea boiling kettle.

The Public Transportation Zombies (first one)


Yoganathan.N said...

A few turned up late at office yesterday, and they were talking about something. All I heard was 'LRT' often in between their conversations. I din't bother to ask.
Now, I know what happened. Bruce Willis out of town, thats ok, we still have Najib bro... Hehe

Rakesh Kumar said...

hehe...funny thing it has not been reported in papers. I was delayed by two hours!

Yoganathan.N said...

//hehe...funny thing it has not been reported in papers. I was delayed by two hours!//

Hhmmm. Last time I checked, KTM turned out KTMB...
How come no news in papers... :puzzled: