Taking the stairs


A regular morning journey to work. The metro train arrives just as I step onto the platform at Hradcanska station, an unusual stroke of good luck. On arrival at Museum, my stop, I'm even fairly early. But little do I know that that's about to change. All goes as normal, until I reach the lifts at the end of the platform which take passengers to street level. I and six or seven other Prague commuters step in and are promptly baffled as the lift emits a strange screech and tells us we've reached 5 floors below ground level...

I somehow doubt this information is correct.

Indeed my suspicions are confirmed as the doors open only to reveal bare machinery. We're stuck. Awkward glances are shared across the lift compartment. Feet shuffle uneasily. Silence reigns. That is, until an older man at the rear of the lift mumbles in a disgruntled tone:

"Oi... That's Russian technology for you..."

This is met by subdued laughter from the other people in the compartment. Subdued, presumably since we were slightly more concerned about the possibility of being trapped in a lift for the rest of the morning than receiving a complimentary stand-up routine. For me, in particular, subdued, since this wasn't the first time this had happened to me. In fact, it was the third. In two weeks. The word 'lift' was beginning to sound somehow ironic.

Fortunately the mechanism clunked back into motion after not too long and we didn't have to resort to any drastic survival techniques. But the elderly gentlemen's words somehow lingered.

Of course, technically, he was in fact wrong. Unlike most of the Prague metro, which was built during Communist times, the lifts are a fairly recent addition to the Museum station, finished only last year. But his words made me wonder how much of the original Russian-built metro system still remains. Sure, the "Russian technology" that the elderly man in the lift was speaking of is gradually being replaced due to wear and tear, but many Praguers have always been proud of their city's metro, and with good reason. It's an effective system, as simple as A, B, C, you might say, and trains on the whole are reliable.

But still, next time, I think I'll take the stairs...