Transportation and Claustrophobia

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   I feel a bit of Deleuze coming on.  It is at work everywhere (at least here in the Metro), functioning smoothly in North Station, at other stations in fits and starts.  It breathes, it heats, it eats.  It’s shit, and it really, really fucks.  What a mistake to have ever rode the MRT.

As if I had any choice: the most convenient way to go from Quezon City to any other place in the Metro Manila area is the Metro Rail Transit.  I have never – and by that I mean ever – rode a monstrosity like that back home.  Maybe my provincial sentimentalities are still with me: that women and old people always go first, and that you always yield to passengers, that you give room for people to breathe and to move around.  Not so in this Frankenstein monster that is the MRT: whether you like it or not, you just have to keep on shoving it.

One of the first things I did here was to buy a Stored Value Card.  My cousin says that it’s for the benefit of my own sanity and my wallet that I drop the extra hundred bucks to buy myself one.  I’m a very patient man when it comes to queues: I can stand there all day if I wanted to.  Back in college, I stood at the queue to the cashier for around three hours to pay three units worth of knowledge and miscellany that I still found justifiable back then.  I don’t know about Manila folk, though: as much as many of them understand the word “queue” in terms of fried bananas in skewers (banana cue) or a fashionably jologs gay term (“kwe-we,” pardon the localized onomatopoeia), but we live in a culture that has a word for the queue – pila – but don’t really understand the principle of it.

I’m quite appreciative of Japanese transport systems: at least they pay people to shove and push you into the train.  Here, it’s different: paying passengers shove and push you around as if it were the very fist of tardiness would descend upon you, any which way you choose.  And this, believe it or not, was 6:15 AM at Quezon Avenue.  Don’t ask me what’s up at 6:15 PM at Ortigas Station.

Do I mind being in a literal torture chamber of sweaty people?  Do I mind getting a wee bit paranoid that I might be groped by a gay dude?  Do I mind getting a wee bit paranoid that I might get robbed by a pa-simple train-riding pickpocket?  Or do I even mind getting extremely paranoid that gay pickpockets would rob me of my manhood and my personal belongings?

There are a lot more things to get paranoid about.  Like office cubicles, for example… but that’s for another Experiment.

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