Having waited for up to half an hour for my conveyance to town, it is with keen interest that I view the arriving train.
Inevitably at that time of the morning there are youths on the roof, a risky affair given that these trains are electric with an overhead power supply. This means that the sides are bulging with bodies and the insides are like the proverbial can of sardines.
But, no worries think I, needs must. Anyway, where I embark loads of folk disembark. Also, that glimmer of intelligence I have in the early hours (if 10am can be called that) means that I have chosen a section of the train with the least internal mobility.
There are 8 carriages in 2 units of 4. Therefore, in the middle at the ends of each unit, there are the driver’s cabs which are, generally, sealed off from the hoi polloi. The cabs are obviously the best places to be, but I have yet to be invited to join the dozen or so chosen ones. Instead, I attempt to enter through the double doors immediately behind.
Cattle class is variable. Sometimes I am delighted to see a shiny blue one arriving. These are likely to have overhead fans that still work. Silver trains are second best; it is a given that the double sliding doors are there for decorative purposes. They are either permanently open or jammed half shut. The latter situation does make it harder for the cling-ons, who are those who ride the sides of the train using their extra-strength fingernails to prevent sudden ejection.
If I see an orange train arriving I can expect something a little more down-market. There will be graffiti scrawls inside and out, no operative fans, missing lights and windows and a muggier atmosphere which is the result of having conveyed innumerably more sweaty bodies.
In none of these trains can I expect a seat. These were taken way down the line, probably in Bogor. The rest of us have to find a handrail or, in the blue trains, a luggage rack to grasp. This is fine by me as I am somewhat taller and have a longer reach. If the overhead fans aren’t working it’s because they have been grabbed too often during lurches. The handrails may similarly have come unattached through constant use.
I am prepared for this. My small backpack is on my front, I have my handkerchief-sized floor space, I am inside near the doors so I can attract the breeze as we rattle along and I am ready to quietly observe my fellow passengers as they observe me, the only westerner crazy enough to share their daily commute.