|Everything and Nothing|
Before I start this post, please understand that I have been awake now for the passed 8 hours (started writing at ±12PM) (waking time this morning was 03:45AM) so please excuse the grammatical errors.
Yawning, shivering and just about popping with excitement I had made the effort and had woken up for The South African Gautrain’s 1st Inaugural Breakfast Run. Upon entering the underground parking of the “soon-to-be” Sandton Gautrain Station, I was surprised to see that the ticket booms were out of order – score – I think to myself as I drive through anticipating and loving the fact that I’m not going to have an additional anus ripped for parking my car at another city transportation hub…(AKA: OR Tambo)!
Diving down into the bellows of the beast that is The Gautrain, I could already feel the atmosphere was peaking as hoards…okay not hoards, but a hefty group of people were huddled – standing in seemingly structured lines – to purchase a ticket from the Ticket Station. Standing in line I could not help but feel as though I was participating in something much bigger and far more important than myself and the personal gain I believe I could extract from this future mode of public transport. I felt as though by forking out that 200 odd bucks (R210.00), I was contributing and giving back to those who have worked tirelessly over the passed months to have this incredible piece of transportation ready for us and our country. I felt as though I was playing my part in “kicking” things off so-to-speak and as I have maintained over the last year or so, my patriotic wings began to flutter with pride!
Of course in true South African style, there we delays and out of the ±8 Pay/Ticket Stations, only two were working – but like we all have learn ed to do – breathe, relax, ask for assistance and suck it up because there is f*ck’all you can do about it!
It’s that simple…granted these issues will have to be sorted out in the next few weeks as I’m sure the Gautrain will be become a more widely used mode of transport during the World Cup…! Then again, it really didn’t bother me that we were waiting in lines, it’s what people do in a government run establishment…no matter how shiny the trinkets might be, in essence it is all government run, pricey, but government run.
Descending into the under-belly that is the Sandton Station I was surprized to see how deep it actually went and how incredibly deep the engineers and construction teams had to build up from…the feat was remarkable and I’m sure will remain one of the greatest engineering achievements of our time! And there she was…shiny…golden…brimming with blue florescents and packed to capacity by the time I descended the 4 flights of escalators! Yes – you heard correctly – 4 flights of escalators…could have been 6…pretty sure it was 4 though! So, I’m going to say it and you can douse as much Train-Envy-Juice as you want at me…I’m saying it…I was fortunate enough to be seated on the First commercial Gautrain ride to OR Tambo International Airport…yes…the first…*does happy dance*
So what does the issue of being on the first one mean anyway you might ask? Well, I was…and you weren’t…I think that that substantiates my point further than I can throw you with a stone!
Don’t worry, there are no height restrictions for this ride ‘Timmy’ and you can take as many friends as you like, just make sure you keep your arms and legs inside the ride at all times otherwise you might get a booboo… *makes limb removal gesture with other hand*
Under the cover of darkness, we began our journey and I was not surprized that the morning people had already mustered up the courage to “bring the gees (spirit/pride)” on to the train. So, there I was, still on South Africa’s first ever commercial Gautrain journey and all I had to share it was my note pad, digital camera and phone – not that I’m wielding the latest smartphone or anything like that, but I was as prepared as I’ll ever be. Listening to the train scurry along was so nostalgic of the last time I experienced the – London Underground – oh, and by the way…the London Underground is one of my favourite and most special places to be – I know, strange!
Unfortunately the time we left the Sandton Station didn’t allow for much of a view but it was different to see the array of city and town lights from the train as we scuttled to OR Tambo. Upon arriving at OR Tambo – skipping the the two intermediate stops of Malboro and Rhodesfield – it was really interesting to see how they have tucked the Gautrain Station riiiiight at the back of the Airport, specifically the International Terminal.
Breakfast…breakfast was good. Talking sh*t and tweeting where ever possible, it left another surge of anticipation of what it would be like coming back? “Possibly the same, just going the other way”, I murmured to myself as I ascended the escalator at OR Tambo (or ORTIA as they say at the Station)…and then it hit me…the sunshine as well as the realization of what I was actually a part of…
Now, I don’t mean it in the “Braveheart” terms, so put your blue face paint away and listen up for a second or two. Mr.Mandela has been preaching it for years, the American’s way of life is supposedly based on it…truce g-d…I mean, William Wallace died for it…but to my understanding and perception on things…the Gautrain means more than just a mode of transport, it means more than just an engineering achievement, it means more than not having to sit in traffic on the way to the airport…it means more than I realised until on the way back and with the sun in my face, we passed Alexandra Township.
Okay, before you go and grab a tissue…it’s not what you think. Looking out over the township I realised that this “Commuters” Rail is for “them” (unintended stereotyping)…those that don’t have the luxury of choosing not to ‘drive their car to the airport’…I mean…when you think about it, just saying that is such a f*cking luxury on it’s own…! Some of the people that reside in that township barely have enough money to put food on their table and here we are, the smug Gautrain Gold Cardinians riding the “Golden Assegai” like it was made for us! It wasn’t made for us, it was made for those that cannot afford to ride in a taxi or own a car. This commuting system is to enable “below the line bread winners” the opportunity to find work outside of the decaying epicenter and come back home without having to deal with the dangers of taxi violence and the costs of maintaining a vehicle.
You can agree or disagree with me…either way…this is my take on the much anticipated Gautrain…more than just “Boys and their Trains”…!