There is something about subways (or metros if you are feeling European today) that is so consistent no matter where you are in the world. It’s the smell. And not the unpleasant aromas that sometimes go hand in hand with public transit, but there is something else and I am not quite sure what it is. Something mechanical, like an oil the machinery uses, or the smell of the tracks. I don’t know what it is, but yesterday morning I came into Bay Station here in Toronto and all of a sudden was transported back to the Moscow Subway system in which I have only been once about ten years ago. A quick flip through of my olfactory subway catalogue seems to suggest that there is something that makes them all smell the same. Well at least the ones I have been in (Toronto, Minsk, Moscow, St. Petersburg, & NYC). I am not including Montreal in there because they use a different system from the traditional “trains on rails” model.
Although they may smell the same, brother, they are so not the same in every other way! The Toronto system is very small, pretty dirty, and purely functional. When compared to the likes of Moscow and St. Petersburg, the Toronto system is just embarrassing. Some examples below.
So I guess I can just keep my eyes closed in the TTC and pretend I am actually under Soviet era chandeliers. I also assume I would be wearing a fur coat and eating caviar at this point.