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Picture by Ernest Chua for Today Digital (15 Dec 2011)

I swear it was even more crowded today as I got stuck, first in the train just before the Jurong East Interchange station, then on the platform of the station when the train finally crawled to a stop at the station.

It was about 7:25am when the announcement came on that the train would stop at the track for a moment because the train ahead of us was still at the station.  This announcement came on every few minutes until it changed and mentioned that there was an incident ahead.  By then I was feeling breathless, standing face to face with a stranger, packed like a sardine in a can.  Good thing the air-conditioning was working or we would all have suffocated.  It was about 10 minutes of waiting until the train started again and pulled up in the station.

Outside the train, the platform was filled to the brim with people waiting for the train on the East-West Line to Pasir Ris.  I was squeezed out of the train and into the throng of people waiting for the other train to open its doors.  The train remained shut with some people inside it.  Then we were told it was not for boarding, and more people piled out of the train from the North-South Line where I came from.

I felt suffocated.  The train on the EW Line opened its doors when I decided to go down to take the bus to work.  But what bus?  I was temporarily stumped.  What bus goes to work?  My mind was a blank as I stared at the crowded platform.  I was at a loss as to what to do.  I didn’t think going into the train was a good idea because everyone wanted to squeeze into it.  More suffocation.

People started to move forward to board the train but I backed away, prompting some people to look at me strangely.  I could barely breathe when I squeezed my way to the staircase and walked down.  At least the stairs were free from the crowd; I could think again.  I called my colleague, explained my situation, told her I was taking the day off and asked her to tell our boss.

The bus interchange was directly below the train platform.  There are shops selling food and I stood staring at one of the shops wondering if I should grab something to eat first because I felt weak.  No breakfast, low on sugar.  I couldn’t decide so I left in search of the bus to take me home.  Again, what bus?  I finally figured out what bus to take to work, bus 97, but going back home was another matter.  I stared at the directory for awhile before finding out: 160 that goes to Kotaraya, JB, Malaysia.  It stops along Choa Chu Kang Road.  I could walk home from there even though I felt so breathless and weak.

It was strange that the bus interchange wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be.  There didn’t seem to be free bus service for the disruption in train service.  Probably because it wasn’t a major disruption, not by SMRT standard at least.  The company has a lot to answer for, all these disruptions coming fast and furious one after another.  The General Election couldn’t come soon enough; 4 more years is a long wait!

I had heard from some colleagues that there was a disruption too yesterday and one of them said they were standing cheek-to-cheek with strangers in the train.  Glad I decided not to board it just now.  I might end up being wheeled out of the station.  I just had my first experience of claustrophobia.

The moment I got back I changed into my pj, got to work in the kitchen and made me fluffy pancakes and an egg.  The pancakes was a little too brown but it tasted ok.  No syrup but strawberry jam was good too.  Now I’m just seated here at my coffee table blogging this with Il Divo singing Amazing Grace on my almost dying stereo.  Life is good again.  I can breath again 🙂