There are a lot of things you can learn about a culture by studying the road traffic. This theme has recurrently appeared in many of my conversations with others. The theme also takes different tones. Sometimes, speaker states it with a sound of authority, even if the speaker has not lived anywhere else in the world. Sometimes, the speaker asks this in a form of question in order to get an affirmative nod. Sometimes, it is said in a resigned note as if there is nothing can be done of the lunacy unraveling before him. Today, I learned something from traffic but not the road traffic.
The traffic I refer to is the rush to get into the brilliant underground monstrosity which forms a part of life in a cosmopolitan city. In my case, it is referred to as Underground. These monstrosities are brilliant as it was initially built many years ago and it has given a face-lift many times over the passing time. All the engineering and thought processes from then to present in order to make this a necessity for millions is indeed mind boggling. Leave those aside. The commuters in every city have unspoken rules which also becomes a habit for them over a period of time. Today, I got down at one of London Underground stations and waited for my connecting train. The natural tendency was to stand closer to the wall while I wait for the train. Of course, this is a remnant from my Metro days in Paris. Within seconds, I was blocking the passage of everyone moving to different ends of the platform. Everyone over here stands closer to the rails while waiting for the train. People who are walking through the platform to their destinations passes behind the back of everyone waiting for the train.
It is strange. Standing closer to the rails is dangerous. But the platforms are shorter in London. The yellow lines, drawn on the platform, are closer to the rails than I have seen anywhere else in the world. For a newbie in the city, it is intimidatingly close to the rails. As for the regular commuters, they appeared to relaxed even though they were standing close to the rails!
So now if you are coming to London and waiting for your train in Underground, you know exactly where to stand.