All cities are unique. That is what you may say. But that is not going to stop me from comparing them. Not a long time has elapsed since I moved from Paris to Bangalore and then from Bangalore to London. So I keep comparing both my temporarily adopted homes namely Paris and London. You may have heard about the English weather. Weather takes a back seat as far as I am concerned. Forget it, everyone everywhere are complaining about it. In my private scorecard, Paris has won the initial match. The bone of contention was public transport. To be more precise, Underground versus Métropolitain.
Sceaux in 3 Euros. They charged me 20 Pounds for a ticket to Reading". This is the first complaint I heard from my friend who was visiting. If you use size as the measuring stick, London is much bigger than Paris. But then Euros and Pounds do not have the same value. Sceaux is not as from Paris when compared to the distance from Reading to London. Even then, the price is unreasonable. I have a question for London. Don't you want to encourage people to use the public transport, burn less gas and support less you-know-what?. Then there is the question of ticket validity. A ticket in Metro is a ticket in Metro for longer than a day. You buy it today, I can use it tomorrow, day after and then some more days. Here in London, your tickets are either for today or valid for one month. The pricing structure is also different.
Ligne, London has Line. Essentially, they mean the same. Paris prefers to use the number system while London prefers to name the lines. The confusion starts when you arrive at a platform. In Paris, a platform is only for a Ligne. So if you are standing in one platform, you are either waiting for Ligne 1 or Ligne 13 (Although there are 14 Lignes, I prefer 13 and my Parisian friends know exactly why!). Here in London, you can either get Hammersmith or Circle or something else. Are there any clear distinction between these except in the "tube map" for an untrained eye? Well, the writer himself is an untrained eye. If I am cribbing, you know there was no clear distinction. That is why I ended up boarding the Circle Line while I wanted to board the Hammersmith Line! While talking simplicity, let's say you arrive at Saint-Lazare. You can get to all your platforms by taking one entrance into the Metropolitan. Now let's say you arrive at Paddington. Depending on the lines, you take different entrances. God help you if you arrive at one end of the station. Sometimes, you have to walk through the station, then get outside and finally get into the station from the other side!
The most essential thing you will miss in the Underground train is the intimacy with the fellow passengers. The seats, in an Underground train, are arranged along the edges facing inwards. This is a good arrangement when you want to carry more people without changing the dimensions of a train. It gives more space for standing and hence you can pack more people this way. But I have not been in the Underground train during the rush hour. Whenever I used the Underground, it was not grounded. The seats in a Metro are in such a way that you are sitting closer to the fellow passengers whether it is rush hour or not. For some, it might be claustrophobic. When you have overcome this condition, you will notice an intimacy forming with the fellow passengers. You are watching what others are doing on the mobile, be it messaging or playing games. You are part of their conversations on the phone even if they are talking in low tones. If none of the above is true, then you are staring into the faces of others noticing every little details be it a mole or a wrinkle or a nose ring....