Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Travel rewind


 As the man with the little bottle filled with a transparent fluid sitting opposite to us doesn’t stop to hassle us in a friendly way, I stop to fight my tiredness. My eyes close. After we pass the gypsy settlings, built next to the tracks I don’t see anything of the way between Sofia and Pernik. Time after time my head tilts from one side to the other, my brain wants to go to deep sleep mode, I don’t want my mouth to open. Half sleeping I am dreaming until a tender hand on my cheek wakes me. “Anna we are there” Yoana whispers, I follow here to the exit where Jakub and Andrzej are sitting. Andrzej looks at me with big eyes and acts astonishment.
The railway station, Yoana warns us as we go there. “You will get a shock”. A building by the Soviets, the smell, dark and drafty, the ideology iconically mirrored. Gypsies used to live there, it smells. Public spaces like train stations, are like everywhere the most dangerous, Andrzej tells us. We talk about national spirits and drink from a hipflask making us feel welcome. Selfdestilled, of course.


It´s quite nice here I hear myself saying. I like the style. Modern, a mixture between futurism and art nouveau, tiling in metallic colours, pastel and blue, the shapes are oval and round, a light and generous space. I’m talking about something, I realize I’m talking a lot about Uganda. Actually I’m glad to be able to have something to offer, it saves me because of already having experienced something comparable. We get in the subway and Jakub forgets to give me the “Schinkensemmerl” which he had already offered to me on the platform. It doesn’t matter, he will remember later at the railway station. On the way to the railway station we pass a strange looking inner courtyard, surrounded by buildings, which look closed and vacated. Abandoned premises at the ground floor and empty flats at the top. Even though the building (which reminds Yoana of a circus tent) seems to be in good condition, not a single soul seems to have stayed. The rent they demanded was too high for anyone to make a living. We shake our heads. Isn’t that totally pointless.


 Our bus is already coming Yoana points out to me, because I’m about to light up a cigarette again. I think she is asking if I’m a heavy smoker, then she says we could also wait for the next bus, it´s going to arrive in ten minutes. “No, no, or?” everyone is looking at me supportively, hesitantly I’m holding the cigarette between my fingers, which I’m about to put back into the packet. “ I’ll wait until later” I say. In the bus we get our tickets, which we have to put into a kind of hole puncher. When hitting it from the bottom, it punches two little holes into the yellow paper ticket. Being seated we are told that the ticket inspectors are very strict when they find someone trying to dodge the fare. This information motivates Jakub to hectically search for his ticket in one of his very many pockets of his jacket. I’m afraid he will rather lose his ticket than find it, the way he his hand quickly slips into and out of his pockets. He finally finds it in his passport. We laugh.

 My nervousness is politely keeping itself in the background. I'm glad for the one and a half hour advantage, for the time I already got to spend with Yoana and Andrzej. Kindness can be found everywhere. You stumble across it. Like over roots, or gold seams.

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