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Piston Embarrassing

Posted by Natalie in Society - 16 March 2011

Trainspotting is the epitome of uncool, but what’s wrong with a healthy appreciation for mundanity?

Crossing Warschauer Bridge last night I was struck by a captivating sight – a shiny ICE train backing into its parking space. What’s more, it was being reversed by an old shunter!  The juxtaposition of that chic, modern machine among the battered tube trains and tired platforms of the S Bahn station below caught my eye, and I found myself leaning over the filthy railing in awe .  People among the seemingly relentless stream that traverses the bridge didn’t share my wonderment; in fact, quite the opposite – they looked slightly scared.

It got me to thinking about the taboos of trainspotting. It’s perfectly acceptable – morally commendable, even, in these carbon conscious times – to enjoy a good train journey. If train travel were more affordable (and the cost of air travel were truly reflected in its price), it would be everyone’s favourite way to make short- and medium-haul trips.  So where is the line between enthusiasm and out-and-out fanaticism?

It might be something to do with a fascination with the ‘mundane’ that makes people so uncomfortable. When a fervour usually reserved for the sacred is applied to the everyday, it upturns the expected and accepted order of things (which I suppose is the basic definition of a taboo).

I’m reluctant to contribute any more personal train-based excitement stories, but that just proves the point. Do you have any similar anecdotes to share? Where do you think the line is, if indeed there is one at all? It doesn’t even necessarily have to be related to trains – it all amounts to the same thing; for example (just plucking this idea from thin air), have you ever become disproportionately excited at the prospect of replacing your bike’s crankshaft?

There’s nothing wrong with enthusiasm and passion. If enough people pipe up about their experiences and feelings, maybe we can smash the taboos once and for all. Too many people suppress or lose their sense of wonder at ordinary things, but ultimately the everyday is all we have.

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One Response

  • John says:

    Natalie,
    Thanks for dropping by at TravelCrunch and adding me to your blogroll.
    You raise a good point. To be part of the “Jetset” is supposed to be cool or to be aspired to, while train and bus travel are for the losers, tends to be views pushed by the media and public. It is based on the premise that we as persons are what we have not who we are.
    Your last paragraph is truly inspirational.



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