06 September, 2011

Public Transport - Tour of Melbourne

Last week I enjoyed a day-out on public transport. I travelled by two trains for a 1.5 hours journey from Cheltenham to Hurstbridge. The immediate return journey took me to Flindres Street from where I made my way to Carlton to see a film, "The Trip". To my disappointment, the film proved to be boring, and thus I walked out 20 minutes before the end of the film. I have not done that for a long time. My companion for the day was Alex miller's novel The Ancestor Game.

Today I had a practical reason for a day-out on public transport - a need to have my car serviced at Glen Waverley. 

From Glen Waverley I travelled on a Smart Bus to Greensborough, a journey of  1 hr 15 min. The bus stopped conveniently in front of the Plaza, on the opposite side of which there is a bakery that satisfied my need for a light lunch.

When travelling on public transport I find it interesting to pass the time by reading and observing the scenery and fellow travellers. Once again on this journey my companion was the above mentioned novel.

There were three occasions on which the bus driver had to interrupt our journey. Two of those occasions were for items that had been left on the bus – a shopping bag and a wallet. The latter was not found. The third incident was a bit more serious for an elderly man having studied a map of the route and then talking to the bus driver realised that he was on the wrong bus. He thought that the bus would take him to Springvale which, unfortunately for him, was in the opposite direction and at least a one hour journey. The Asian passenger was lucky for the driver, who was also Asian, spoke the same language. The bus driver was kind enough to guide the passenger safely across the 4 lane highway to a bus stop. As the driver was making his way back to the bus, I watched with amusement as the passenger made his way to a tree where he discretely relieved himself.

A lass in front of me entertained herself with her mobile phone. I could observe what she was doing as she was diagonnaly in front and at a lower level to me. After sending off a sms she settled into playing a game and then listening to music. At one stage she used the video camera of her phone to record the passing streetscape. That’s one way way of passing the time. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say the way that a lot of people pass the time nowadays.

I was impressed with the variety of  shops lining the main street of Greensborough. The word Plaza prominently displayed above two wide glass doors located between two shops attracted my attention. Soon after entering the Plaza I realised that I was moving into a large shopping complex in which there are to my surprise three (four?) levels. The idea of having a shopping complex as part of the town's shopping centre offers shoppers many advantages as most shopping complexes that I am aware of are of some distance from the local shopping centre. I may further explore this Plaza sometime in the future.

While eating lunch I considered whether to return to Glen Waverley from Greensborough by the Smart Bus or by  two trains and a bus. Given the time factor I thought it wise to return by the Smart Bus, and to interrupt the journey at the Doncaster shopping centre where I would enjoy a coffee and conclude my reading of the novel.

Impeccable timing - I arrived at Renault, Glen Waverley, just ten minutes after my car had been serviced.

On reflecting on my reading of The Ancestor Game I can record that I continue to appreciate Alex Miller's style of writing and, in this case, I observed with interest the imaginative and somewhat complex way Alex Miller structured his story. While admitting I enjoyed the story, I must add that the it has not left a lasting impact on me, as was the case when I read two of his other novels, namely, Love Song and Conditions of Faith. Perhaps the reason for this is that the complex structure of the story has the potential to make too many demands on the reader. Thus, at times I became somewhat disoriented as the story unfolded. Given that I came to this novel after reading Proust's third volume of In Search of Lost Time, also a complex and imaginative piece of writing, perhaps I did myself a disservice in not selecting a less complex novel such as Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, which is next on my reading list. All things considered, The Ancestor Game is worthy of a second read sometime in the future. In between times a friend has recommended that I also read Alex Miller's novel Journey to the Stone Country.

For information about Metlink's Smart Bus system go to:


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