My first experience of NYC Subway was exhilarating to the core. A nervous me didn’t know on that 1st ride that one day I would get so comfortable using the Subway, that by the end of my stay in NYC, I would be confident enough to answer the queries of other tourists regarding different Subway routes.
On the 2nd day of my arrival in NYC, I decided that I would make myself familiar with the Subway as it was way cheaper to travel by that than by cabs. So that night I asked my friend Google to direct me to the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) website, where after almost an hour consultation, I decided to buy myself a 30-Day Unlimited Ride Metrocard the next day.
The next day after dabbing on my Red lipstick (which strangely always instills confidence in me) & donning a sling bag, with it’s strap digging my shoulder, I was ready to experience my 1st Subway ride. My confidence dipped a little bit though when I was looking as to how to reach the New York Public Library from Elmhurst avenue, Queens, where I was staying. Because the adjoining pic is what I came across.
After trying to decipher this Marauder’s Map for 5 minutes I decided to just reach the nearest station where I could ask for help. So, after taking a deep breath I set out for the day.
En route to the Subway station.
Thankfully the nearest Subway station was at just a 4 minute walk from my place. With anticipation building I descended down the stairs. A narrow passage forked to my right from the base of the stairs, but with not a soul in sight. It reminded me of the scenario in India when we have a curfew. Anyways, the passage then opened onto a wide area with Ticket Vending Machines lined up against the walls to my left & a broad passage to my right. And as luck would have it not a soul in sight again.
After sending my prayers above, not because I was afraid, but to keep me from making a big fool out of myself in front of others (though there were none in sight) I looked towards the Ticket Vending machines. Now, at this point I would have to tell you guys that I found out that you could put a money note (not a coin, but a note) into a machine only after coming to the US. I still remember the 1st time that I had done so to buy a BART ticket at a San Francisco mall’s BART station with the help of my very helpful cousin. Somehow it still amazes me to see the machine sucking in a Dollar note. And since I wasn’t that confident on using the vending machine confidently, I headed towards the ticket booth located at some distance in the passage on my right.
After I bought my Metrocard at the booth from a very helpful MTA employee who even advised me to take a photo of it in case it gets lost, I turned around to see as to which way should I go next. The board on the left displayed TO MANHATTAN & BROOKLYN while the one on the right displayed TO QUEENS. With excitement building I swiped my card at the turnstile on my left…nothing happened, I swiped it again but same result. Probably my nervousness had rendered me blind as I was using the card upside down, after a demonstration on the next turnstile by a woman wearing a smug expression, I finally was successful in swiping the card correctly & walked to the other side. Whew!!! 1/2 the job done. Now all that’s left is to board the right train.
After descending another set of stairs I reached the platform & was glad to see few people already waiting for the train there. The board there displayed that R & M trains would make a stop there. When I was confirming from a fellow passenger as to whether the M train runs to New York public library, the R train reached the platform. As I stood there not boarding, I received curious/ is this girl dumb? stares from people inside the train. Since I was busy gawking at my first visual of the train, the stares didn’t bother me that much. Of course, I realized much later that it was because people boarded whichever train came 1st at this station no matter where they wanted to go & then depending upon their destination they would change the train later at the bigger stations, it could save a lot of time.
Thankfully 10 minutes later the M train reached the station. I wish I could find a word to exactly describe my feelings of travelling in a Subway train for the very 1st time. Like a 1st time school going kid I sat there, either looking at various Station’s names being displayed on a panel above me or at an old man in a suit perusing his newspapers oblivious to his surroundings or at a middle aged woman busy in shelling the peas into a bowl or at a young woman in her business suit giving finishing touches to her makeup or at a teenage boy nodding his head vigorously to the blaring music in his headphones.
All in all there’s a whole new world inside a Subway train & when you travel in these trains daily for 5 months, you are bound to come across or experience for yourself some interesting situations which I will be sharing with you all in my future posts. And yes, in case you guys are curious, I managed to get down at the Bryant Park station near the New York Public Library uneventfully.