Friday, December 23, 2005

Riding the Metro

On Tuesday I will be back in Russia (and Moscow, of course). It will be a 12 day trip and uses up the last of my vacation time for a while. I'll be sure to grab lots of photos and keep notes of every little thing that I notice or observe.

One of the things I am most looking forward to seeing again in Moscow is its famous Metro. Now, as an engineer, I suspect I see such things a bit differently ... because beautiful as many parts of the Metro are, I was struck by it more as an engineering achievement. Everything was in superlatives ... the DEEPEST stations ... the STEEPEST and LONGEST escalators ... the FASTEST trains. And an immense flow of people. I had thought that perhaps Tokyo's subway system might be more crowded ... and then I came across this November 2005 graphic from Atlantic Monthly (I recreated it here).

It just reconfirms my impression that the Moscow Metro is doing the most people moving, with the fewest resources. I had read that the distance between Metro stations was the greatest of any major subway system, but these numbers just sort of confirm that information.

So jump on board for a quick ride. To be like a real Muscovich, you should not smile, so as to appear DIGNIFIED. I bet you didn't know that dignity was the reason behind a Russian not smiling, did you? At least that is what I am told ... smiling and laughing in public isn't dignified. Keep a straight face. Look serious. Try not to embarass me, Oo-en-dell.

Somehow, Americans have a different idea of dignified, however. The Queen of England can smile, and still appear dignified, somehow. To an American's mind dignity demands some subtlety of expression and motion, but not a complete lack of outer countenance.