Just joking. Don't
At the entrance of Pino Suarez metro station a charismatic bum reads latest news outloud: a kid tries to sell his mother’s organs at Tepito market; midget brothers-wrestlers are poisoned with eye drops by two hookers; Uber-taxi driver got stabbed by two regular taxi drivers who got into a car pretending to be customers.
There is a long line of people buying paper tickets at the ticket office downstairs. Nobody knows why they still do it when rechargeable plastic cards for public transport are available since long ago. Maybe, the line-standers are just like those fanatics of real books who only accept reading when it’s accompanied by delicious crisp of paper pages under their fingertips. A coarse paper that smells like a childhood when everything seemed so easy. Standing in a line gives them time to reflect upon these beautiful recollections from the past. What sensations can a plastic card give? It’s only a reminder of contamination and cruelty of modern age that consists of indifference, hatred and inequality.
Passing through a turnstile, I get a snapchat message from my dentist, but I have no time to check it out. A girl jumps on me with exciting news that I can get bonsai tree seeds for free just around the corner. I give a look to the corner. It seems true: her companion stands surrounded by an impressive bonsai tree collection handing over the seeds to everyone who craves for it. Bonsai tree seeds like a clumsy Jewish stand-up comedian gather crowds.
Now the adventure begins. I’m caught by a current of a human flesh river that never dries up here. It works exactly like with dangerous currents in sea: if you try to resist, it will get you deeper and deeper into the vortex. Just relax and go with the flow: the chaotic stream will eventually spit you right inside a metrocar.
Mexican metro became a real school for me: it taught me how to live, love, fight, surrender and survive.Only when I got into the underground, I realized how little I knew about the world. How I first entered in a male metro car in a rush hour and suddenly found myself hanging out at the biggest sausage party I’ve ever attended. How I learnt to keep my issues strong on an example of a transexual spitting in a face of a young policeman when he dared not to let her in a female car; after it she flawlessly walked in and waved him. Real shit, ma man.
Mexican metro is a nursery of a triumphed democracy. There are no judgments, no shame, no fear, no prejudices. Do whatever you want to do. Be whomever you want to be. Express yourself, find your audience. Teenage clowness with little children, mimes with dramatic monologues about poisonous nature of capitalism, blind singers, crooked dancers, hip hop jugglers, individuals who crush the beaten glass with their backs and also want money for that. However, among all of them my absolute favorite is a middle-aged dude with a bucket of water and a mop. He collects money by mopping general areas in a metro car while a train is moving, so to say, in an artistic way.
And indeed the vendors who are like a running blood streams in the veins of metro. They sell bubble gums, marihuana lotions against all kind of pains, 90s rock music compilations, scissors for nose hair, brochures with short biographies of Mexican heroes, books about death, super-glue, yoga-pants, organic honey candies.
Passengers seem to lose their ability to get surprised or even pay any attention to the general craziness that happens in the underground world on a daily basis; they mind their business. Women are busy working on a sophisticated make-up with a help of kitchen spoons. Kids are being loud. Men are being horny or tired. Couples are popping pimples on faces of each other or making out as if they were alone.
Where do these trains arrive? Where do these people head for? To the stations that have poetic names like ‘warrior’, ‘insurgents’, ‘revolution’ and of course ‘shrimps’ and ‘gully of dead’. If you have hard time struggling with station names, you can remember the route by pictures that visually explain an idea of every station’s name. Garibaldi/Langunilla has a guitar as a warning of an incredible amount of mariachis hanging out there; Chapultepec has a logo of a giant grasshopper; Insurgentes station with its bell reminds of how the fight for Mexican Independence has started. Passion for urban design is by no means the only explanation for these illustrations. The pictures are suppose to make metro experience easier for those who don’t know how to read. Though the level of illiteracy in Mexico decreased drastically from 25.8% in 70s when the metro was built to 6.9% by 2010, the number of illiterate people in the country remains impressive. It’s about 5 million of the population.
In Moscow metro, among all the general announcements one can hear from a speaker, there is one that informes that people in filthy clothes, which can smear the others, are not allowed to enter the metro. I burst into a hysterical laughter every time I think what would happen if they tried to make this kind of announcement in the metro of Mexico City. I guess it would lead to public manifestations at the Angel of Independence with following expulsion of a president from the country. Mexican metro is the thing, ma man. As my Lithuanian friend once said, people in Mexican metro look like they just rolled off from a motorcycle.The dirtier the better.
Local metro works for me in the same way as my favorite contemporary artists do: it disgusts and fascinates me. I feel desperate and inspired, surprised and suffocated. Every day there is a new fantastic discover waiting for me around the corner. It’s like Karamazov Brothers’ book: when you are in it, you wanna get the fuck out of there as soon as possible, but when the ride is over, you start missing it. Mexico City metro is a real treal, ma man. Everytime I feel like me falta barrio, I go down.