Showing posts with label transportation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label transportation. Show all posts

June 21, 2012

Seoul Metro

The Seoul Metropolitan Subway is the world's fourth largest commuter network, carrying 4 million passengers per day. The stations are bustling hives of activity, with food, toilet, and shopping venues readily available. Excruciatingly long transfers between different lines at the same station are not as convenient, designed as a mechanism to keep the general populace in top top shape. Vibrant ads and thoughtful poetry adorn the platform, and television screens feature entertaining lessons on how to behave at the station and on the train. The metro functions as a petri dish to examine modern day Korean culture, from etiquette to fashion.

Once aboard, a first time rider will notice that there are reserved seats for old people and pregnant women which no able bodied person will sit in. These seats are even empty in a packed train during rush hour or late night when there are no oldsters or baby mamas in sight, as decorum must be maintained at all times in Korea. Looks of scorn are projected at those selfish enough to sit down on these without being infirm or impregnated. If the phone must be used to make a call, then the conversation is carried out in a hushed tone with one hand politely covering the mouth.

Riding the Bombay locals was an exhilarating experience, but the primary excitement was in getting on and off a moving train. The ride itself was not very fun. The Seoul Metro is breathtaking while on board, particularly as spring turns to summer. Beautiful short skirted passengers sitting on the train carefully avoid reenacting Sharon Stone's famous scene from Fatal Attraction. They are absorbed in their own worlds, applying makeup or playing on their smart phones. Only an occasional shy glance is given to the Indo-Canadian Temptation. The women are not the only fashionable commuters in transit. Their stylish male counterparts all dress alike, the combination of their skinny hairless bodies and tight shorts and shirts giving them the appearance of ball boys at a tennis match.

November 19, 2010

The Safety Notice for Passenger

China Rail High-Speed, abbreviated CRH, is the premiere rapid train service in the country. Operating since 2007, the CRH trains can go at speeds exceeding 230km/h. Between looking at the scenery outside, sleeping, eating, and watching the other passengers get into fights with each other over trivialities, I enjoy endless minutes of jocularity from reading the safety pamphlet available on board the trains:

1. It is forbidden to take with or consign the flammable, explosive, corrosive, posionous, radioactive, and other dangerous articles, including the forbidden knives.

2. The ticket checkage will be stopped before the train’s departure. Please pay attention to the stop time of checking, get on train or stand within safety line on platform for waiting before it.

3. Please stand the queue during get-on and get-off. When getting on after the get-off, please don’t crowd. It is forbidden to pass through under train, climb to roof, jumb off station, enter railway track, and so on. It is forbidden to follow the running train for get-on and get-off before stopping.

4. During the trip, don’t be crowded, lying on the door, and don’t pull (or push) the emergency brake valve handbrake handle, emergency brake button, and other safety facilities at random.

5. Smoking is forbidden at any position inside the train.

6. Under the conditions which may effect the safety of the train and the passengers, please follow the crew’s instruction, keep order, and help the elder, children, illness, disabled, pregnant, and others who need help, but don’t be urgent to take luggage. In case of emergency, please notice the crew in time.

7. In case of the get-off which is necessary during emergency, you can break the safety window by a special hammer for escape. If on Electric Multiple Unit, you can also push the emergency stopping button above the compartment end door.

October 28, 2010

Beijing Auto Show 2010

The largest auto show in the world takes place in the far reaches of Beijing, about 2 hours away from the city center. Nevertheless, throngs of spectators still flocked to see the attractive models on display at the Beijing International Automotive Exhibition. After they were done, they turned their attentions towards the cars. Having a vehicle is a status symbol in China, although with 4.5 million cars in Beijing alone, it is not a particularly exclusive one.

I walked around for a couple of hours, paying particular attention to the concept cars and those being unveiled to the public for the first time. The numbers were staggering - 800,000 visitors, 1000 vehicles, and 100 international debuts. Not only were all the foreign brands out in full force, but dozens of Chinese manufacturers were also present. The local automakers are yet to make an impact on the global automotive scene, but they still dominate the low budget segment of the Chinese market.

I was ushered into BMW's VIP suite after I explained to the beautiful hostess who I was. A stone faced guard moved aside on her signal and I strode up the stairs. Several exclusive models were on display. I smiled at them before continuing on to the dining area. I sipped a coffee, watching the crowds milling about below. I then enjoyed a sumptuous lunch along with other members of the glitterati who had been granted entrance to the VIP area. After the meal, I rejoined the masses to hurriedly visit the booths of the remaining vendors. It was the last day of the motor show and the workers started to drive the cars out of the exhibition hall well before closing time.


"A car for every purse and purpose." ~ Alfred P. Sloan

October 13, 2010

Beast Inside

After years of getting the cold shoulder from both Hollywood and Bollywood, my talent was finally recognized in the People's Republic of China. I acted in a short film called Beast Inside. Along with my fellow thespians, I was picked up in a van and taken to an abandoned warehouse where the movie would be filmed. My principal scene was the first to be shot. It would set the tone for the rest of the movie. After a few practice runs to see if the lighting and camera angles were correct, I changed into my costume.

Everyone held their breath as they waited to see how I would perform in my long awaited debut. Crew members ran around me, releasing smoke from canisters to create the proper effect. The director signalled that filming had commenced. Even through the haze, the spotlight shone brightly on me. I rose to the occasion, nailing my scenes after only a few takes. Everyone applauded as the director yelled "Cut!". I humbly acknowledged their praise as I walked off the set.


"A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting."
- Carlos Castaneda

August 26, 2010

Crash Landing

I soared through the air. This time I had taken flight willingly in a hot air balloon and not because I was at the mercy of a Chinese driver. Hovering thousands of meters above the earth, I surveyed the majestic scenery of Yangshuo below. Jagged peaks dotted the landscape as far as the eye could see. I sailed up into the clouds as the wisps of air evaporated around me, just barely out of reach. But the beauty of the clouds also posed a threat. The skies were becoming overcast, an ominous portent of things to come. Soon the first drops of rain started to fall, quickly picking up strength until it transformed into a full scale shower.

It was time for us to land but we were not near our base camp, having floated away in the opposite direction. We started our descent, but there was no chair to put back into upright position or seat belt to buckle up. After soaring at high altitudes for nearly an hour, the balloon was now only several hundred feet above the earth. We hovered over paddy fields and then drifted over to a nearby town. A spotter ran through the narrow lanes until he located an opening. He beckoned us towards an apartment complex with a basketball court. My trip to the troposphere became even more memorable as the pilot gracefully guided the hot air balloon on to the court. A few bemused spectators who had come out of their homes watched me breath a sigh of relief as soon as my feet touched the ground.


"They say any landing you can walk away from is a good one." ~ Alan Shepard 

August 15, 2010

Full of Hot Air

I staggered outside before dawn and was ushered into a van. The door slid shut and darkness enveloped me. The van started moving. About half an hour later we were outside the city limits. The vehicle came to an abrupt halt. I stepped out. A truck was parked ahead of me. Further ahead I saw a crew dressed in combat fatigues assembling several large canisters, a basket, and a massive amount of multicoloured material into something altogether extraordinary.

It was around five in the morning. I was in the outskirts of Yangshuo, surrounded by magnificent karst peaks and a crew of workers putting together my means to see them from above. I went to inspect their handiwork. Suddenly a massive flame leapt into the air. I turned away, the heat glancing of my stubble in a ferociously sexy manner. The workers eagerly motioned me towards them. I walked towards the fire and climbed into the basket beneath it. I closed my eyes and felt myself floating up into the sky.


"Sometimes you are overwhelmed when a thing comes, and you do not realize the magnitude of the affair at that moment. When you get away from it, you wonder, did it really happen to you?" ~ Marian Anderson

April 06, 2010

ARNABanged: Hitting the Road

They say that Chinese people do not know how to drive. It's not true. At least one does. He drove right into me.

I was standing in the middle of a crosswalk in front of Beijing's Workers Stadium, waiting for oncoming traffic in one direction to stop flowing so I could get to the other side. The locals have as much respect for pedestrian crossings as they do for intellectual property rights, so the crosswalk marking on the road does not mean anything. I looked back to see a red car coming directly at me from behind. A split second later I was in flight, my body performing a grotesque pirouette before making contact with the pavement.

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I scraped myself off the surface of the road, glaring at my attacker as I got up. He had gotten out of his car and was sheepishly looking at me. His mother popped out of the passenger side holding a fluffy pet dog. Suddenly, the driver ran past me into the middle of the street. My phone had taken a slightly different trajectory than I, and was moments away from being crushed. He grabbed my cellphone, narrowly escaping another violent collision with an oncoming vehicle himself. He handed me my phone and I got in his car and drove off, dialing my friends for assistance.


“If you wish to avoid foreign collision, you had better abandon the ocean.”
~ Henry Clay ~

February 16, 2010

Damsel Drop Off

When working late in Indian cities, women are often concerned about making their way home safely at night. There is a chance that they will be harassed by men with ill intentions if they are alone. Companies in the booming IT industry did not take this matter lightly. To reduce the chance of any untoward incidents that could potentially occur when darkness strikes, Satyam provided a late night taxi service for all employees.

The taxi would drop ladies off at their doorsteps in case they had to do overtime work. A precautionary measure was also taken so that the taxi driver and a female employee were not the last two people remaining in the vehicle, as he could also pose a threat. A male employee would be dropped off last, even if it meant taking a more roundabout route. This ensured that at no point would a lady be alone with a predatory man - two or more perhaps, but never just one.

On the few occasions when all the other menfolk had already left the office, I would sacrifice my personal hours to ensure the safety of any damsels who had to work late. My warm heart and strong body provided them with a sense of security during the taxi ride. I would gallantly escort them to their doors, and they would give me a shy smile before going inside. Once at home, the lady could call a company switchboard operator to give notice that they were safe and sound.


"True manhood doesn't seek to compromise a woman's purity. True manhood stands up to heroically protect it." ~ Unknown

February 04, 2010

Modes of Transport

The diversity of ways to get from one place to another is as astounding as the ARNABeard. On my way from Hong Kong to Beijing, I set a new personal record for most distinct modes of transport used on a contiguous journey from point A to point B.

- cable car from the top of a hill on Lantau Island to a MTR station
- subway to my destination MTR station
- ferry across the harbour from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon on the mainland
- taxi to the Elements bus station
- bus across the China-Hong Kong border to Shenzhen Airport
- airplane from Shenzhen to Beijing

For the pedestrian portions of the odyssey I walked on the road side footpaths, underground walkways, elevated platforms, escalators, travelators, boardwalks, gangplanks, and stairs.


“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”
- Oscar Wilde

August 06, 2009

My Fare Lady

Although there are crowd avoidance strategies that an experienced transit user can usually employ, sometimes he has no choice but to get on a jam packed bus. The population density becomes so great that it is not possible to count the number of people on board without falling asleep first. On one such busy occasion, I somehow found myself positioned between the two most attractive female passengers on the bus. I was tightly holding on to the overhead handlebars and trying to maintain my balance so as not to bop into either of the women, lest they form an incorrect opinion of the Prince of Honour.

The bus was idling at one intersection for several minutes due to the heavy traffic. The temperature was pushing 40 degrees. Everyone was sweating heavily, using their arms to wipe the perspiration dripping from their foreheads or just letting it splash onto nearby passengers. As I was drying myself with one hand, I was knocked from behind with considerable force. I lost my grip on the handle bar and felt myself falling. I used the lady in front of me to stop my forward momentum. She instinctively turned around and shot me a dirty look. I also turned my head to see what was going on behind me. The other pretty lady was flat on her back. She had collapsed from heatstroke or some other malady. I delicately attempted to lift her up with the aid of a scrawny Chinese chap. We were having some difficulty until we were helped by the fare lady.

Responsible for making sure everyone pays for their bus ride, the ticket collector was a big boned woman of sturdy stock. She pushed aside the crowd that had formed a circle around the prone body and picked up the young woman. She shooed away the occupant of one of the seats reserved for the sick, pregnant, and elderly, and dumped the knockout there. She had regained consciousness by now and was rubbing the shoulder she had landed on. The fare lady checked to see if the girl still had her wits about her. Once this was verified, she yelled at the bus driver to keep going. The remainder of the journey was not noteworthy.


Colonel Hugh Pickering: Are you a man of good character where women are concerned?
Professor Henry Higgins: Have you ever met a man of good character where women are concerned?
Colonel Hugh Pickering: Yes, very frequently.

- My Fair Lady, the winner of the 1964 Best Picture Oscar

August 03, 2009

Traffic Jam

Most newcomers to Beijing have been warned in advance about the heavy traffic that they will experience in the city. This does little to prepare them for the gridlock that awaits them once they arrive. Weaving through traffic, whether in a vehicle or by foot is quite an endeavour. In rush hour, the approximately four kilometer long trip from my home in Dawanglu to my office in Guomao takes one hour by bus. There are four major intersections in between, and it takes 10-15 minutes to cross each one. If I am late leaving my apartment in the morning I walk one, two, or three stops down. The number of stops depends on how late I am. I board the bus when I have caught up to where I would have been in if I had been riding the bus all along.

The cars, buses, and trucks spill on to the bike lanes once they have clogged up the roads. Smaller motorized vehicles, bicycles, and people fit through the empty spaces to be found amongst the larger vehicles, often barely squeezing past. Traffic comes from all directions. Although vehicular traffic is chaotic and slow, this is not to say that those walking are actually moving swiftly or smoothly. In fact pedestrians are waddling at a very relaxed pace, so as not to break a sweat, trip over uneven pavement, or collide with a defecating child. Sudden stops are not uncommon either, as a certain item being sold by a street side vendor may have caught their attention, they may have forgotten where they were going, or had the urge to clear their throats by collecting large amount of phlegm and indiscriminately spitting this out on to the street or on innocent bystanders. Although I have become adept at navigating the streets and sidewalks of Beijing, I have yet to perfect the latter practice.

“There are no traffic jams when you go the extra mile.”

July 26, 2009

Training Day

I completed an epic 24 hour train journey from Beijing to Hong Kong. In the process, I saw the Chinese landscape through the windows of my compartment and felt the warmth of the Chinese people through my heart. Most of my trip was spent on a long distance train from Beijing to Shenzhen. Fellow travelers took great interest in the presence of a foreigner, especially one of such indecipherable origins and universal appeal. Intrigued passengers gathered around from nearby compartments to see what the hullabaloo was about.

Through the help of an interpreter I explained all the exotic foods I wished to eat while in China. The men roared with approval while the women squirmed in disgust. One chap led me to his compartment so I could practice English with him. He was going overseas for the first time to give a presentation to some Germans and was understandably nervous. Since I understood most of what he was saying, he was relieved and a great burden was lifted from his back.

Located directly north of Hong Kong on the Pearl River delta, Shenzhen is China's first Special Economic Zone (SEZ). In a SEZ many legal restrictions are lifted or eased by the government, allowing business to flourish. Shenzhen has developed rapidly from a small fishing village to a busy megapolis in three decades. From the Shenzhen train station, it was only a short walk to the subway which would take me to Hong Kong. I went through customs before hopping on board. This 40 minute subway ride pushed my total travel time to a day. My journey from Beijing to Hong Kong had come to an end.

"Most of my treasured memories of travel are recollections of sitting."– Robert Thomas Allen

July 14, 2009

Dumb Bus, Smart Bus, Empty Bus

In Beijing it is not an uncommon sight to see a caravan of identically numbered buses arrive at a bus stop one after the other. For example, bus #31 will be immediately followed by another bus #31 and yet another bus #31. This is often followed by a very long wait until the next cluster of buses arrive.

Each bus departs their starting point at regularly scheduled intervals, say every 10 minutes. At the first stop the mass of transit users converge on the first bus and try to get on board before everyone else. The pushing and shoving lasts approximately 1-3 minutes. Traffic also moves at an Arnab's pace in Beijing. During this time, the second bus on the same route has left the bus station and is now only around 10 minutes behind. Repeat this pattern a couple of more times, and by the second or third stop on the route the two buses are together. Another one to two stops later, all three buses will be within striking distance of each other. The cycle repeats after every 3 buses since by then another huge group of riders has gathered at the bus stop.

The swarm that enters the first bus leaves it packed to the brim. People are squashed against the windows and doors. All the seats on the second bus fill up quickly, but there is room to comfortably stand for the stragglers. The third bus obligatorily stops at each designated spot, but since 95% of the passengers have already boarded one of the two previous buses that arrived in the past minute it is left mostly empty. It is difficult to predict the change in arrival times that would take place if ridership was evenly distributed amongst the three buses, but at the very least the ride would be a lot more comfortable for most people.

"I'd rather go by bus." - Prince Charles

June 18, 2009

People's Liberation

About to head off from Bangalore to Mahabalipuram for a beach weekend, a Korean and I made our way to the Majestic bus station. A bus heading to our destination arrived punctually at our scheduled departure time of 9:30 pm. We got on, only to be informed that this was actually the 8:30 pm bus. We got off and waited. In due time I headed off to the washroom. The dutiful Koreanette remained at the bus stop to watch over my travel gear.

I entered the public bathroom and found all the water closets occupied. Several uncomfortable minutes passed and the situation remained the same. I discovered that all the stalls were locked from the inside except for one. I could still hear noises coming from inside this one though. The stench was most foul. A poor soul seemed to be trapped inside, seeking deliverance at the hands of a fellow potty patron. I unlocked the door, and out popped a beleaguered looking fellow who quickly ran outside. I do not know how long he had been dwelling in the commode.


"A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom." - Bob Dylan

June 08, 2009

Subway Saviour

As is the custom in overpopulated nations, mass transit users get on board vehicles before other passengers have a chance to disembark. Usually the members of the opposing groups collide, push, shove, slip, squeak, and slither until each side is where they want to be. One day on the Beijing subway, a peasant girl was left behind in this transition. The rest of her family had made their way onto the train successfully, but the little girl was still on the platform.

As the warning bell sounded and the subway doors started to close from each side, the parents suddenly realized that she had been left behind. The mother started screaming, while the father attempted to retrieve the daughter. The doors were sliding shut quickly and the father could not reach his daughter from inside the train. When there seemed to be little hope for salvation, my heroic instinct kicked in. Just as the authorities had blocked my website, I blocked the door. While I prevented one side from closing, the mother held the other door at bay. This gave the father just enough time to leap onto the platform, scoop up the bewildered child, and hop back on board moments before the doors closed and the train started moving.

With the crisis averted I returned to gazing at my reflection in the subway windows. Meanwhile, the mother had lost her temper. Her hysterical rage was directed at the father, who had forgotten to make sure the daughter was with them when they were aboard the train. The father looked around sheepishly as his wife screamed and screeched. The little girl wailed for a good five minutes, wiped her eyes, and promptly stomped on her father's foot. Noticing the new scuff mark on his shoe, the father delivered a soft but swift kick to his daughter's rear. She immediately started crying again, which led to further scolding of the father by the mother.

Soon my stop arrived. As the shrieking and crying continued in the background, I enjoyed a nice game of Chinese bowling as I got off the train. This is a traditional game where the people who are trying to get on the train and the people who have no intention of getting off the train but are still blocking the doorway act as human pins, while whoever is trying to get out is the ball.


"Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world."
- Rebecca Harding Davis

May 10, 2009

The World's Fastest Train

Magnetic levitation (maglev) trains float above the track, using the power of science to achieve blazing fast speeds. The world's fastest commercially operating train is propelled from within the city of Shanghai to an airport outside the city limits by magnets. The maglev runs on an elevated platform, so I watched the cityscape zoom by from my window seat when I took it. A digital display overhead indicates the current velocity, which tops out at 431 km/h. Seven minutes and 30 kilometers later I had arrived at my destination.

I did not need to go to the airport, so I bought round trip tickets for my joy ride on the fast moving monorail. A Chinese man mentioned that the technology for the Shanghai airport link had been purchased from the Germans at great cost (over $1 billion USD), so that it could then be reverse engineered by Chinese talent. This demonstration track is known as the IOS (Initial Operating Segment). His body shook with unabandoned glee as he explained that the much longer Beijing-Shanghai intercity link could then be constructed at a fraction of the cost using local technology.

“Speed provides the one genuinely modern pleasure.” - Aldous Huxley

May 07, 2009

The World's Longest Escalator

Steep and hilly, Hong Kong Island has a network of covered outdoor escalators which start at the base of the business district and end near the far side of the moon. The Central Mid-levels escalator system, as it is called, is 800 meters long and 135 meters high. It is possible to get off or on at each road that the conveyor transport device passes during its ascent or descent. Around 60,000 people travel on it each day. For inhabitants of the island metropolis the escalator ride is just a part of their daily commute, but for visitors it is a fascinating experience not to be missed.

The intricate series of escalators goes in the downwards direction in the morning, following the flow of humans heading to work. After 10 am, the escalators reverse direction and start taking passengers up the slopes. This is ideal for daily usage, but quite tiresome for a tourist who happily rides the escalator for the the 20-25 minutes that it takes to reach the summit, only to realize that he or she will have to trudge all the way back down by foot.

"An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs. You would never see an Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order sign, just Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience." - Mitch Hedberg

November 02, 2008

Shatabdi Express to Amritsar

After a few days wandering around Delhi and a day trip to the Taj in Agra, it was time for Stein and I to head of to the Punjab. We had an early morning train to catch. Homeless people were still asleep on the floors of the train platform as we boarded the Shatabdi Express to Amritsar. The Shatabdi trains are the fastest in the Indian Railways fleet, equipped with such luxuries as air conditioning, a one litre bottle of packaged drinking water, and newspapers. Meals are also served on board. A little before lunchtime we arrived in Amritsar. A friend of a friend picked us up from the station and took us to the Golden Temple, the holiest site for followers of the Sikh faith.

After purchasing a pair of orange coloured bandanas to cover our heads we entered the place of worship. Guests are welcome to stay within the complex. Accommodation and food is provided to all. We were given a room in one of the niwases ("houses"). After making sure we were comfortable, the friend of a friend suggested we visit the Pakistani border and bid us farewell.

August 31, 2008


During my grueling two-and-a-half hour daily commute to and from work, I spend a considerable amount of time on the SkyTrain. Since I leave my home before dawn, I don a blue fleece jacket to keep me warm as I wait for the sun to rise. The exhausting walk to the SkyTrain station leaves me drenched in sweat, and I remove the fleece from my bodice. At night on my trek home through the chilly streets, I again rely on my blue fleece to provide me with warmth as the moonlight illuminates my path. In the morning, I stand for most of the journey as there are no seats available on board the train. One day I was fortunate enough to get a seat, so I sat down, relaxed, and let the jacket slip from my hands...

When I reached my office I noticed my blue fleece jacket was no longer accompanying me. My coworkers suggested I go to the Lost Property office at Stadium SkyTrain Station, as they had successfully retrieved lost treasures from there in the past. I checked with the office and they told me that all lost items that are found by staff or good citizens are collected at the end of the day and then delivered to them the following day. Lost items are systematically logged into a database. The most popular item available on the lost and found shelves is an umbrella.

I gave a detailed description of my lost belonging, but it could not be found by the staff member on duty. I was asked to identify when and where I had last seen my jacket as well as provide a thorough description (material, size, colour, brand, etc.) of it. I tried again the next day, but the answer remained the same. My lost fleece had not been found. I checked eBay to see if it was being auctioned off to a collector of prized memorabilia, but it was not posted there either. Perhaps one day, it will return.


"Memory is not the same thing as intelligence. Some of the smartest people are the most forgetful people." -  Peter Graf, memory expert

January 04, 2008

Parental Spanking

During my daily commute aboard my favourite form of mass entertainment, the SkyTrain, I witnessed a spanking incident between a woman and what I assumed to be her son. There are poles placed at strategic locations throughout the train compartment so that standees may grab hold of them for support during their arduous journey. The child, full of youthful enthusiasm, was using one of these aforementioned poles as a piece of gymnastic equipment, propelling himself around them at greater and greater speeds. While the train was stopped at a station, the boy almost launched himself through the open doors. After each rotation around the pole, the child was told to stop and sit down by the mother, who was getting angrier and louder with each gyration.

As the boy's behavior did not change with repeated warnings, he was given a light smack across his bottom by the frustrated mother. "Stop, you can't do that in front of everyone!" yelped the whippersnapper. "I just did" replied the mother, "That will teach you not to jump around all over the place".

After this comment, the boy went into a frenzy, his pace increasing as he pulled off various acrobatic moves. The mother, face red, yelled "That's it! No McDonald's for you today!".

"Noooooooo!" shrieked the boy, as he simultaneously ceased rotating. "Why???"

"Because" the mother responded.

"Because is not an answer!"

"Because I told you so! Because I asked you to sit down but you wouldn't and now you're talking back."

"Uhhuhuhuhuhuhhhhhhhhhhhh" bawled the boy.

Five minutes of uncomfortable silence followed until the pair got off the train. An "I'm sorry" whimper and a "So am I" response was overheard by some passengers as they exited. In the meantime, I was trying to recollect the exact details of the Guidelines for Parental Use of Disciplinary Spanking that I had read. This useful document had been published by the American College of Pediatricians. Conditions included:

(a) Spanking should be used selectively for clear, deliberate misbehavior, particularly that which arises from a child's persistent defiance of a parent's instruction.

(b) Spanking should always be a planned action (not a reaction) by the parent and should follow a deliberate procedure.

(c) Spanking should always be administered in private (bedroom or restroom) to avoid public humiliation or embarrassment.

(d) Spanking should leave only transient redness of the skin and should not cause physical injury.

(e) If properly administered spankings are ineffective, other disciplinary responses should be tried again rather than increasing the intensity of spankings.

Condition (a) was followed by the mother, although the child was given no prior spanking alert before impact was made. This leads me to conclude that condition (b) was not met and that the mother had lost her cool when she had applied corporal punishment to the rear of her son. Condition (c) was definitely not met! Although I did not inspect the boy very closely, condition (d) appears to have been met. The mother stopped at one disciplinary spank and used the McDonald's maneuver thereafter, as the boy had become enraged at the public punishment and taken his misbehavior into the next level, so condition (e) was met also.

Overall Spanking Score: 3/5