Unexpected Boston Encounters

By Premlata Venkataraman

email: thepatrika@aol.com


Travelling in commuter trains is natural to me. I spent my teenage years in Bombay daily commuting on suburban trains from the suburbs to Churchgate on the “7:12 superfast.” I’m sure you’ve heard of the notorious Bombay train — overcrowded, with commuters literally hanging by their fingertips. Enough said. I am comfortable in crowded trains.

 Well, this premise was severely tested recently on a trip to Boston in June. On an impulsive mini-vacation, we found ourselves in a hotel not near the Boston harbor area, the tourist attractions in the city. It was at the end of a short ride on the T, Boston’s commuter train network.

The beautiful Boston skyline seen from Boston Harbor

 Public transportation lets you get to know the city intimately by observing everyday folks go about their work, and this has always appealed to me. So familiarizing myself with a handy map, I jauntily stepped in and out for rides several times during our weekend stay.

 Top on my agenda was walking the Freedom Trail and soaking in all the history of the American Revolution, which originated in Boston. Imagine my surprise on getting to the station on the Saturday morning to a feeling that I had been transported in a wicked travel machine to Mumbai’s Victoria Terminus during rush hour. Except, none of the milling crowds around me was brown!

Wild Boston Bruins fans flooded the streets of downtown Boston.

 The line to buy metro cards snaked out into the streets. Not an ice hockey fan, I had paid little attention that the Bruins, Boston’s hockey team, had won the Stanley Cup. And now, all of Boston was decked in their finest Black-and-Gold (the teams colors), ready to party big time with its new champions! Maybe, it was the familiar Black-and-Gold that lulled my fears. Undaunted we made a spot decision to go ahead with our plans.

 The train arrived. Seeing the trainful of Bruins fans packed like sardines in a tin and pumped up on celebratory fervor, all my decades-past Bombay spirit drained out of me. I balked at walking into the crowd to the doors of the train, in spite of commuters beckoning me inside.

 After a couple of trains had thus gone by, I brought forth all my long-forgotten fortitude and just stepped into a coach full of people, trying to shrink myself into the smallest frame possible. Miraculously I squeezed into a tiny pocket and made eye contact with the Vietnamese women trying to hang on to seat back – unable to reach the handles overhead.

 Finally, we arrived at the Downtown Crossing station and got off the train into the milling crowds. Once we reached the streets, we came to know that we missed the Freedom Trail walk by a few minutes. (Later in the afternoon, when we joined the afternoon Freedom Trail walk, all of us got soaked, not in the history of the American Freedom struggle, but in the plain old-fashioned thunderstorm rains.)

 The crowds, the noise and enthusiasm of the Bruins fans apexed. Having never experienced a Steeler parade after six wins and three Penguin wins in my twenty-five years in the Burgh, I experienced my first sports victory parade in Boston. “Watch out for rowdy drunk Bruins fans,” my daughters cautioned. They worried about their clueless mother doing the kind of risky stuff they had been cautioned against all their lives.

 But the crowds were, for the most part, well behaved though drunk not only on the Bruins victory, but also on the early morning imbibing of Sam Adams. It was fun seeing all the kids, young adults, and oldies too decked out in their best Bruins merchandizing. The noise was deafening as the motorcade rolled down to a burst of drums, vuvuzelas and cheering.

 That evening at the Boston Harbor we did encounter the alcohol-fueled revelers once again. Sitting on a ledge overlooking the harbor contemplating the history lesson and the magnificent Boston skyline on a comfortable sunny day, I was startled as a young man ran past me and jumped nearly twenty feet below into water. Six others soon joined him.

 Later in the evening, after dinner at the Strega’s which had photographs of every Italian star on its walls and several TV screens streaming every Italiano Mob movie ever made, we enjoyed a delectable the Italian dinner.

 So my short visit of Boston blended elements of the familiar (Freedom Trail), the delectable (Italian food), and the unexpected (The Bruins Parade). Boston put on quite a show for me.

  1. No comments yet.

You must be logged in to post a comment.