Musings From A Train Ride

Last weekend I was in Montreal for a project implementation. This time I took the Via Rail train for a change. I left Saturday morning and came back Sunday evening. The train trip was , as I expected , more relaxing than the plane ride. It was a relaxing 4.5 hour train ride one way. The business class had roomy seats, great food service and I was able to read the daily paper quite substantially and even managed to doze off a bit. The plane ride is only 55 minutes but adding up the travel to the airport, check in and wait times, I figured it would be about 3 hours . Add the aggravation factor further – I’d take the 4.5 hours. The bonus was when I arrived at the train station in Montreal, my hotel was just a couple of floors up by the elevator! Dandy I thought. Checking out from your room 15 minutes before your train leaves ? Wicked. But my mind was still fresh with the news of the Montreal Pinoy 2nd grader Cagadoc who was ostracized by his teacher because of his unorthodox habit of using both spoon and fork when eating his lunch. I wonder what my Montreal colleagues, mostly Francophone Quebecers, have to say about the incident. Well, all of them dismissed the issue as unfortunate, caused by some nitwit and ignorant school officials who have no clue of what the world looks like beyond the Quebec border.

The story was also picked up by the Toronto Star and its article had a slightly different version in that the school’s disciplinary action has to do with the boy’s “disruptive behaviour, not slovenly eating”. Whatever the real reason was, clearly this case wasn’t the result of a standing school or government policy but an administrative issue between teacher and student. The story did not make it to the headlines, unlike the controversy caused by the school ban on baptized Sikhs from carrying the kirpan, a small knife male Sikhs carry with them all over the place. This issue triggered a national debate on whether religious practices must prevail over school regulations aimed at protecting the safety of students and teachers. The parents of Luc Cagadoc certainly had the right to lodge their complaint with the Quebec Human Rights commission. The criticism for the use of spoon and fork was irritating but in my opinion, if one had to fight, this case had been a perfect take on, very much like the school yard scrap where two people had to settle the score between themselves. Personally, I would have gained more satisfaction in an “ugly but controlled” confrontation with the principal and lunch monitor first before lodging a complaint with the commission. The boy’s parents are now seeking punitive damages for the discrimination their son experienced. The boy wasn’t suspended nor expelled. I hope they get something more than a mandatory apology.

Must we ban The DaVinci Code movie? Whoa? Ban the movie but not the book? Where’s the logic ? The notion isn’t new. In 1982, Michael Baigent’s book Holy Blood, Holy Grail said it all but no one made a fuss about it. Must we get offended by the movie? Is it an affront to your faith? Not really because the movie doesn’t denigrate the bible but if the church is your faith, then you’re in trouble.


14 Responses

  1. About that train ride… I missed riding them. Actually I would prefer to take the train rather than drive 10-13 hours all the way to Bicol… if they are available that is. For years, the government have been trying to rehabilitate the PNR without much success, citing the lack of funds (really, it’s more of corruption). Ironically, even the first world countries rely heavily on its rail services. The government here is probably too shortsighted to see that…

    I’m really glad that the Pinoy mother decided to pursue this case, if only to teach those two ignoramuses a lesson.

    As for the ‘DaVinci Code’, I just hope that the MTRCB will eventually approve it for release and not be swayed by these ‘righteous’ idiots calling for a ban on the movie.

  2. It took 4.5 hrs for a one way 550km train trip – not bad at all, 1.5 hours faster than driving. RP should look at rehabilitating the PNR. Rail services are definitely a great way to move goods and people in a country such as RP.

    Not sure where the Cagadoc case stands as we speak. An apology can lay this case to rest.

    The History channel had a DaVinci week special which was a treat to watch because it dissected the topic in detail, most importantly the historical facets of the case. The criticism from the public appears to have shifted from heresy to insult of a religious order.

  3. 4.5 hours for a 550 km trip? That is fast. A train ride to the Bicol region, which is around 650km from Manila, takes around 10 -13 hours… if the train doesn’t break down.

  4. A first-class train? Is that like the Orient Express in those old movies? That’s so cool! Hi BTW… found your blog while blog-hopping. 🙂

  5. Sngl – that’s just a regular train and not one of those modern bullet trains that travel faster than cars. They’re pretty efficient and stops only in major cities most of the time.

    Sometimes I drive 4 hours one way to go fishing and come home same day ;leave at 5am and home by midnight – crazy eh?

  6. Hi Toe. Tks for stopping by. These medium distance trains are pretty much what you can consider regular trains but they are very comfortable, esp the first/business class, complete with washrooms, tables for laptop users. I wouldn’t say luxurious but they have attendants that serve food and drinks, pretty much like the plane.

    One of the trips I am planning is a train trip north to the “edge of the artic”, perhaps drive all the way to Cochrane, Ontario which is about 7 hours and then take a special train trip that goes about 186 kms north to see the northern wilderness. I don’t think it is the artic yet but I’m betting on the news ad that says so!

  7. i wanna experience riding a train to far places. but i don’t think i can do that here. just a look at the trains, would make me pray for my safety. (sorry sngguy)

    “if the church is your faith, then you’re in trouble” – true! if you think your faith will be swayed, then don’t watch it anymore.

  8. Tin-tin – people nowadays are more conscious of time so they prefer to take the plane. Long train rides, esp those that require beds and cabins for sleeping are quite expensive! I would prefer a 10 hr train ride over a 10 hr bus ride anytime.

    Agree – if it will likely affect your faith better not watch it. One priest in a radio interview here said that the more we bitch about the movie, more controversy simply makes Dan Brown even richer!

  9. Seems you’ve enjoyed to the max your train trip to Montreal. I guess the trains there in Canada are as nice as the trains here in Switzerland (and in Western Europe in general).

    As for the spoon-and-fork incident, just like you, I would have confronted first the lunch monitor and the principal before lodging a complaint — albeit with self-control (by God’s grace).

    There’s so much media hype going on concerning this “Da Vinci Code” film. And I guess the author and the filmmakers are happy about this (money, money, money!). I haven’t read the book yet, and I guess I won’t. I’m the type of person who hates hype material. 🙂

  10. Jayred – yep, the trains here are clean and comfortable just like Europe. Because this country is so big, train rides here can be quite expensive depending on your destination.

    On the Luc Cagadoc case, that’s what I meant by ” ugly but controlled” confrontation. Emotional and brutally frank but tempered with self control.. LOL!

    On the DaVinci Code, I’m really not interested in the fiction part, what Tom Hanks will do or not. I was a quarter way into the book when I stopped reading. The History Channel’s DaVinci week special I partially watched ( I don’t have the skill to finish books and movies have you noticed)was a treat because the program discussed the historical part of the whole issue, with interviews from authors, historians, clergymen, local folks in France. The program is coming out in 2 DVD’s soon and i think it is entitled ” Beyond the DaVinci Code”. I just hope that the DVD’s show up at the Chinese mall
    soon, in the usual “affordable” version. LOL..

    When I read these things, I keep an open mind. There’s really no reason to panic when all you’re doing is lintening to what other people have to say. The Muslims in India have already expressed their support for the protest demo being planned by the Catholics!

  11. The only train ride I ever had was when I was in Manila and it wasn’t such a swell ride. The railways from Taguig to somewhere in España was so crooked that I thought I was riding a motorboat on a stormy weather. I’d really like to have a real smooth and enjoyable train ride in the future but I guess it won’t happen here in the Philippines. And that makes it a long shot.

    One of my favorite author is Mr. Paul Theroux and he always writes about travel through train and bout exotic places like Mongolia and Bhutan. If you’d have the time, I am sure you’ll enjoy his works.

    Enough has really been said bout the spoon and fork issue brimming over there, It’s clear that’s its just an unfortunate circumstances and I hope all’s well that ends well.

  12. In this part of the world where tere’s a vast expanse of land and gas is relatively cheap hence people drive days to reach their destination and enjoy the journey, trains are becoming an option for those who prefer to travel without much stress. Trains aren’t really that cheap and with the escalating cost if fuel, it is becoming more expensive.

    The province of Ontario is quite large. They say it is a s large as England, France and Germany combined. It would take me 17 hrs to drive from Toronto to Thunder Bay up north . That’s 1570 kms and I am still in the same province. It would take me 20 hrs to drive to Orland,Florida , USA down south
    passing through at least 5 states!

  13. I dream of riding “The Canadian,” that train ride that travels through the Rockies. Need to save up for it though.

  14. THAT train ride across the Canadian Rockies is awesome, hence quite expensive. Definitely in my list too !

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