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Long train on a small platform

Albuquerque, United States - May 24, 2015: The Amtrak passenger train Southwest Chief ready for departure. The doors are closed and a red lamp is flashing, in the back a worker and passengers on the platform.

Albuquerque, United States - May 24, 2015: The Amtrak passenger train Southwest Chief ready for departure. The doors are closed and a red lamp is flashing, in the back a worker and passengers on the platform.  

I visited the U.S. for the first time in 2000 at the age of 60. Since my hosts were a working couple, there was no question of a guided metro tour or outstation visits. But I decided to explore New York, with their guarded approval. They would drop me at one of the metro stations in the morning and pick me up from the same spot in the evening. I was asked to keep my distance from local people and be careful at city centres.

But a problem arose when my friend in Long Island, one of the suburbs some 65 km from New York, invited me for dinner. After quite a bit of persuasion, my host agreed to my night-out. I took the Amtrak train from the New York Penn station at 5 p.m. My friend would receive me at a station called Glen Cove around 7 p.m. The ride was comfortable, and I enjoyed the scenic landscape en route.

As Glen Cove was announced on the screen, I reached the exit door, but could not open it. I went to the next compartment through the vestibule. Here too the door could not be opened. There was no other passenger to alight. I got panicky. My worry was if the train resumed its journey, I would not know how to reach my destination from the next stop at night. One passenger came to me and said, “My dear friend, the train will not leave without disembarking you. The conductor knows you are listed to get off at this station. Please go to the next compartment.”

As I did so, the conductor greeted me and guided me to the door. It was a relief to see my friend waiting on the platform to receive me. “Just a few commuters use these stations. The platform is built small purposely to save resources. Passengers will come to the one compartment whose door will open,” he said. The country which has enormous resources shows how to manage them wisely.

lakshmibashyam@yahoo.com

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 7:05:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/long-train-on-a-small-platform/article31819494.ece

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