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The world under the ground

That the traveling – not just the destination – can be a way to having fun is true, particularly as being shown by New York City’s subway system, and as discovered by Dom (DominiK/Dominique). Here’s why Dom thinks it’s a world on its own that is worth discovering.

The first time one of my Dads took me out riding New York City’s subway system, there weren’t that many people. I think it was past 9:00AM already, so the rush hours were done. Plus – coming from Queens while heading to Brooklyn – we already passed Midtown Manhattan, so the only people left were those who weren’t stuck for the day in the Big Apple, and I tell you, there aren’t that many on weekdays…

That first time, I remembered seeing much: a heterosexual couple eating each other’s faces (my Dad said for me not to stare, but…); still-sleepy commuters heading to work; tourists who were finding their ways toward the city’s attractions…

But, apparently, as they say, I’ve not seen nothin’ yet!

You know that cliché about a journey being of value not only because you’ve reached your destination, but because of the travel towards that destination? Well, I’d say this is true. Particularly if you’re traveling using the subway of New York City, as you try to reach point A to point B to… point Z.

Because in not so many words, braving (yes, I used the word braving) this city’s subway system is in itself an adventure.

That there is an underground world is true. And no, I don’t mean those bunks that weird people may have built in anticipation of an atomic war, or to hide from the arrival of zombies. But a concept of an underground world is exemplified by, yes, the subway.

Here, you’d see people do what they would be doing at home – eating proper meals (complete with silverware cutlery); expertly put on make-up (using the windows, darkened because the train’s moving underground, as mirrors); make-out (like that time that Dad said for me not to look); do homework (kids even have their crayons out!); and so on…

You’d see people, too, continue what they started elsewhere – the laptops come out for work; Kindles pop out for reading; yoga stretches in the middle of carriages; and so on…

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My favorite would have to be the performers. Actually, Dad calls them performers. But they’re really buskers. They perform a song or two, and then they ask for money. Like carolers in the Philippines. Only here, no dog will chase them. But I like them – the hip hop artists, the balladeers, the acoustic performers, the rappers…

There are, of course, beggars who ask for help – the war veteran, the pregnant woman, the homeless old man, the abandoned younger people…

What I don’t like is the rudeness of some. There was one time, I saw someone pick a fight with someone because he took his bike in the train. The bike owner wouldn’t have any of the rudeness, so he became rude, too. They were blabbering so loudly right there, in the middle of the train – and during rush hour, too. It was kinda weird…

But then there’s kindness, too. Dad’s friend from Kenya, Angela Muthama, said that she was told that one of the signs one has become a New Yorker is when he/she starts wearing earphones/headphones while traveling in the subway. And she may be right – just about everyone has ear pieces that allow them to get lost in their own worlds. But they’re never really “lost” – one time, Dad dropped a piece of paper, and this young woman chased us to give it back to him. At another time, this Black guy’s money in his back pocket was just about to fall out, and this Chinese guy called the Black guy’s attention about it. And at so many times, people – men or women – offer their seats to others. For instance, if you are with someone, and only one seat is available, the one seating beside you/your friend will offer his/her seat to you/your friend so that you can be together. I think this is very nice indeed…

That people can be nice was experienced by me when I had my photos taken in F train. They were all giving me space, and then giving me smiles as I shyly tried to pose.  That was awfully nice of them, I think.

And then there are the sweet stories of meeting the love of your life emerging from the subway.  Makes me want to find my Teddy, too…

My Dad met this girl, 70ish-year-old Babara Adams, who said that so many New Yorkers “live their lives under” (that is, they spend most of their time in subways, going from here to there, and vice versa), and so they miss out on so many beautiful things above the ground. In fact, Dad said Barbara would only go to a station where her train actually is; not on connecting stations, because then it would mean she’d walk from one station to another under the ground. “Why go under the ground when you can have all these?” she supposedly said, gesturing to the world around her.

She’s much older, so Dad believes her.

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I think I only half believe her. Don’t tell Dad, okay? He may tell my other Dad.

Because I say that now and then, going under isn’t all that bad.

If it’s winter time, and you don’t have thick clothes, then going in the subway is always a relief.

And if you wanna people watch, you can skip the café; just head to the subway.

In the end, there’re all kinds of weirdness there, and so there’s much, much more life there!

I’d say you may have arrived in New York, but you haven’t really arrived until after you’ve braved this world underground…


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