In Stockholm, 39 metro stations are lacking functioning escalators right now. One wonders if this is a state-coordinated project to promote public health by making travellers walk up 108 steps (Östermalmstorg) to get out of the metro. But I learned now that the real reason is tragic and scary: an old lady fell into one of the stairs (apparently, the stair just broke away?!) and got stuck in the escalator for an hour. Now she is in hospital and the leg that was stuck might have to be amputated. It turns out there is a production flaw in all escalators of this type – 39 in Stockholm – so they were all shut down. It is sensible of course but I wonder how long it can take to check those escalators, I mean, this is apparently the fifth day that they are out of order.
Actually, lots of interesting things happen in public transportation. I am not sure if my attention is drawn to it more now because one of my best friends is passionate about transportation, but I observe closely how people behave in the metro in Stockholm and Hamburg. The latter is taking a toll on my patience every morning because there are way too many people on the train, people with a different sense of distance than me and people who think it is okay to eat smelly things. Stockholm is more pleasant when it comes to that and people are reserved and keep to themselves. Without eating. Or making out.
But today I witnessed an endearing encounter on the green line. A middle-aged Swedish woman came into the train and sat down opposite an old lady. The lady was obviously an immigrant, the kind of person that people ignore and are slightly irritated by. This Swede, however, seemed to be one of the unusally open kind, and said to the lady in Swedish, “Ah, it’s so warm outside!” (True. It is very warm for February!) The old headscarved lady did not understand any Swedish at all. This did not scare the Swedish woman off. She kept chatting with her vis-a-vis neighbour. “Solen kommer ut”, she explained undeterred, and started painting the sun with its rays into the air. The other passengeres obsverved the conversation and I saw some timid smiles. “What’s your name?”, the Swede asked. The lady looked at her blank. The Swedish woman pointed at herself, “Anna-Maria”, she said smilingly, “I am Anna-Maria. Who are you?” and pointed at the lady. “Vida!” The lady said, beaming at her. Then Anna-Maria had to get off the train, so they said goodbye.
To get from the city center to where Marita lives it takes 19 minutes. In Stockholm, this is considered the suburbs, certainly a substantial way from downtown. When I was coming back here, I started thinking about what 19 minutes are on Hamburg public transportation. Nothing, basically. It is just a little more than from my place to my work and both would be considered central Hamburg. It truly amazed me how my perception of time and distance varies so much depending on the city.
To round off this post with something that is not transportation-related, I can inform you that I met lots of dear ex-colleagues at my exjob today, had an inspiring long fika talk with Nicola where we identified very similar problems and concerns in our life, had dinner with Bianca, my oldest friend in Stockholm who anyone would just like to pack into the suitcase and take home, and for dessert I met Elle who had taken the time to hang out with me despite her excessive work load and a trip to the north of Sweden tomorrow. And I was even showered with birthday gifts!
Now I am sitting on the sofa with Fredrik and Marita, we are each working on our laptops (it would be a great photo) in peace and silence and I think that’s an ultimate sign of comfort. It’s what Ingrid and I do at home. Real friends can blog together, yet apart.