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Part 2. Thomas

Ex. 1 Read the text and pick up the terms referring to the topic.

One of the things that I find very tiring about life in the city is the constant roar of the traffic. Sometimes it becomes so stressful for me that I just want to run away and hide, but I imagine it must be just as stressful for a driver to try to get through the cen­ter of town in the rush-hour. I always feel so threatened when trying to cross busy streets. Especially here, in Hungary, where cars don’t always stop at pedestrian crossings, or even at traffic lights. I never want to drive a car. OK, I'm happy to go in them when they're there, when they're going where I am and when there’s space, for example when hitch-hiking or going somewhere with friends, but I feel there are really enough cars and roads already. There's enough constant noise and there are enough dirty, smelly petrol fumes, and even if I can’t see a way to make this problem better, I don't want to be part of the problem, to make it worse.

I think that a trip to another country, or to visit distant friends, or simply to travel a long way would be much less conven­ient without cars, but maybe then we would value the trip more and use our time spent away more efficiently. There’s also the factor that cars seem to be made to be a disposable commodity nowadays. Cars produced now only last for a couple of years and then they don’t work or seem to be out of date. Also, many people change their car every two years and so they don’t look after their cars and keep them in good working order. I mean a well-looked after car can, I’m sure, last for fifteen years, but because people think about them as something which they will change any­way, people don't put so much energy into keeping up the condition of their cars as they used to. And what should we do with the useless shells of the old, broken-down cars? There seems to be no viable way to recy­cle them. They just end-up on scrap-heaps, out of sight and out of mind. These scrap-heaps get bigger and bigger, and they take up good space.

Nowadays, cars are seen as an essential part of life, but a hundred years ago they weren’t, and people still managed to go about their lives as they always had done with­out them. Long distance travel was by horse, or later by train, and I greatly prefer these two alternatives. As I said before, I think this problem can be helped, really, by a greater and more extensive use of public transport.

Budapest is really an exceptional place in that the public transport system is really so regular and so comprehensive. I think that this must be something left over from the communism, when the government were anxious to make sure that people could get to and from work every day. Budapest is one of the few places I’ve been to where you know that all of the buses will come on time, and they come at such short intervals that it’s rare, apart from in the middle of the night, that you have to wait more than 20 min­utes for a bus. In England, this is not the case. You can wait for an hour for a bus that should have been there 5 minutes ago. Within Budapest, you can get from one location to another very quickly. There is, however, the disadvantage that because I know that I can get to any place in Budapest within a short period of time, I'm more inclined to spend my day in many different locations, rushing about, doing one thing and then another. Because of this, I seem to spend half of my life on buses, underground trains or trams. This used to be very frustrating, but now I’ve found a way to get over this, to have something to do on public trans­port, for example to bring a walkman and to listen to some of your favorite music, or to bring a book. I think that these things can make travel­ling on public transport a lot less stressful.

People in Budapest, on public transport, I don’t know why, always seem very sad and very closed off from each other. I have also found this in other cities. The tube in London is a notorious exam­ple of lack of communication. Everybody on the tube sits next to each other just reading their papers, or looking into the mid-air. It seems to be absolutely forbidden to look at another person. Maybe this is just something about cities in general, I don’t know.

I often accompany Maria to school in the morning and as this takes about half an hour of traveling on public transport, we generally occupy our time by reading together. From leaving the house in the morning, it takes us about 4 or 5 minutes to walk to the tram or the bus, whichever we decide to take. From where we live, there are a couple of buses we can take that go to the center of town. They both arrive at underground stations sooner or later, so then we can change to the underground and many of the parts of the town are accessible within a very short period of time. Or we can take a tram from just near our house to Blaha Lujza ter, and from there, there are many possibilities to change to another tram, bus or underground train.

I’m not so keen on the underground myself. I don’t really like to be so far under­ground and traveling at such a high speed. It doesn’t really feel natural to me, and often I get quite claustrophobic, sometimes also a little bit disorientated by it, but the underground is often a calmer place to be than on the crowded buses at between 8 and 10 in the morning, for example, or between half past five and seven in the evening. Everybody squeezes onto the buses, as they all want to go to work or go home of course, and sometimes it’s not even possible to breathe on the buses in the rush-hour. The worst example of this that I've expe­rienced is the number 95 which goes from Keleti Station to near our home. In early evening, it can be like a can of sardines, really. It fills up so fast, and then at every stop, more and more people want to get on. Sometimes there are people really push­ing their way onto the bus, trying to cram in to get a place so they can get home. At these times of the day, of course, the buses go a lot more slowly than they do in the middle of the day or in the evening, as there's so much traffic on the roads. Sometimes I've found that, for example, a bus journey which by the night bus takes 10 minutes, at these times of day can take more than half an hour. This can be really very stressful.

The trams normally aren’t too slowed down by masses of traffic on the roads, as they have separate lines to go on where cars aren't allowed to go. So, generally, I prefer to take a tram at busy times, because I know that I’m gonna get there on time and not be too slowed down by other traffic on the roads, whereas if I take the bus I really can't be sure when I'll get home.

When I can, I really enjoy going from one town to another by train, as long as the train isn’t too full. It’s quite peaceful to sit and listen to the chug-a-chug of the train. Trains generally aren't too shaky, so it's possible to read or to write whilst travel­ing and it can be very peaceful and relaxing to be sitting on a train for a couple of hours.

One of the disadvantages of driving a car is that, especially with older cars, you can never be quite sure if the car is going to reach its destination. OK, of course this is the same with any form of public transport as well, even buses can break down or things like this, but it seems that public transport gener­ally is at least more reliable than, for example, Maria and her sister’s car, which is an old Trabant, and it really is risking half of the day spent pushing it to get in it, even to go a short distance. Cars often cost so much to get repaired when they break down. I'm sure that it’s very unusual that buying a car and maintaining it, and also continuing to fill it with petrol, saves money on public transport − cars are normally quite an expensive business.

The main advantage of cars, of course, is that you can go where you want and when you want, and this can make things a lot more con­venient.

It’s a personal choice, of course whether or not to be a driver, but my mind is well made up.

Ex. 3 Suggest the Russian equivalents to the English ones: to get through the cen­ter of town, to feel threatened, to cross busy streets, smelly petrol fumes, hitch-hiking, distant friends, a couple of years, to be out of date, to keep something in good working order, a well-looked after car, broken-down cars, to recy­cle a car, an essential part of life, long distance travel, an exceptional place, to be anxious, frustrating, to make less stressful, to come at short intervals, lack of communication, to sit next to each other, to be accessible within a short period of time, to slow down, useless shells of old cars, to occupy time, to be keen on, to write whilst travel­ing, chug-a-chug, to maintain a car.

Ex. 2 Suggest the English equivalents to the Russian ones: изнурительный, шум от дороги, час-пик, пешеходный переход, светофор, автостоп, ухудшить, провести рационально время, дорожить, имеющийся в распоряжении, товар, путешествовать на длинные расстояния, сохраниться, поддерживать в должном порядке, корпус машины, жизнеспособный, свалка, поле зрения, занимать время, всеобъемлющий, кроме, склоняться, аудиоплеер, преодолеть, пользующийся дурной славой, какой бы ни, открытый воздух, впихивать.

Ex. 4 Fill in the gaps in the sentences.

  1. Thomas thinks that … would be much less conven­ient without cars.

  2. In England you can … that should have been there 5 minutes ago.

  3. Thomas seems to spend half of his life on buses, underground trains, but now he has found …, to have something to do on public trans­port, for example…

  4. … can make travel­ling on public transport a lot less stressful.

  5. The trams normally aren’t … by masses of traffic on the roads, as they have…

  6. Everybody on the tube sits … reading their papers, or…

  7. One of the disadvantages of driving a car is …, you can never be quite sure if…

  8. Cars often cost … when they break down.

  9. Thomas really enjoys …, as long as…

  10. Everybody squeezes onto the buses, as … to breathe on the buses in the rush-hour.

Ex. 5 Complete the sentences.

  1. One of the things that Thomas finds very tiring is…

  2. Thomas always feels so threatened when…

  3. It must be just as stressful for a driver to try…

  4. Thomas doesn’t want to be part of the traffic problem, so he…

  5. Cars seem to be a disposable commodity nowadays because…

  6. A lot of cars don’t work because…

  7. People don't put so much energy in…

  8. Thomas can get to any place in Budapest…

  9. People in Budapest, on public transport always seem…

  10. In London tube it seems to be absolutely forbidden…

  11. Thomas prefers to take a tram at busy times, because…

Ex. 6 Are these statements true or false?

  1. Thomas enjoys living in the city. Thomas feels only advantages of the city.

  2. You can buy one car for all and to use it all your life, if you keep it in good working order.

  3. Useless shells of the old, broken down cars are recycled.

  4. Cars are not important for a man nowadays, as it was hundred years ago.

  5. Budapest transport seems badly organized.

  6. He avoids spending his life in public transport.

  7. People in Budapest on public transport are very joyful.

  8. The tube in London is the place you can mix well with people.

  9. Underground is his favourite form of public transport.

  10. A bus journey in rush-hour is very exciting.

  11. Thomas prefers to take a bus in rush-hour as that is quicker.

  12. Cars have a lot of advantages.

Ex. 7 Answer the questions.

  1. What does Thomas find very tiring about life in the city?

  2. Why does he feel threatened when trying to cross busy streets?

  3. What does Thomas think about the present transport system?

  4. Is it convenient to trip to another country without cars?

  5. Do people keep their cars in good working order?

  6. Did people get along without cars a hundred years ago?

  7. Why is the public transport system in Budapest really exceptional?

  8. Is transport system in London regular?

  9. What can make traveling on public transport a lot less stressful?

  10. What does everybody do on the tube?

  11. Why is Thomas not so keen on the underground himself?

  12. At what time do buses go slowly? Why?

  13. Is it quicker to travel in the day or night time?

  14. Why does Thomas prefer to take a tram at busy times?

  15. Why does he enjoy going by train?

  16. What is the disadvantage of driving a car?

  17. Private car is more reliable than public transport, isn’t it?

  18. Is it very expensive to use the car?

  19. What is the main advantage of cars?

  20. Does Thomas want to drive a car very mush?

Ex. 8 Translate the sentences into English.

  1. Меня утомляет шум уличного движения.

2. Очень нелегко пробираться в центре города по переполненным улицам в час пик.

3. Улицу нужно переходить только по пешеходному переходу.

4. Я редко навещаю друзей, которые живут далеко.

5. В течение многих лет в кафе быстрого питания блюда подавались на тарелках одноразового использования.

6. Он содержит машину в хорошем состоянии.

7. Ребенок оказался жизнеспособным.

8. Он считает машины очень важной частью своей жизни.

9. Поездки на большие расстояния очень утомляют ее.

10. У него были далеко идущие планы.

11. Это было исключительное место.

12. Я склонна принять его точку зрения.

13. Меня расстраивает его поведение.

14. Давай разделаемся с этим.

15. Все знают, что он оставил семью.

16. Ему не хватает общения.

Ex. 9 Give a summary of the text.

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