Monday, July 19, 2010

Greetings from: the train from Luxembourg to Amsterdam

There are a good number of cyclists on the train.  As they board, they struggle with their bikes, wrestling to get them into an upright position.  They’re dark-tanned (or perhaps just Spanish) and stride down the aisles with lean, muscular legs.  I’m also continually blinded by people wearing bright orange outfits.  I’m cheering on the Netherlands in the World Cup Finals too, but there’s a reason why hunters use that color to keep from getting shot. 

An elderly woman sits across from us.  She does things that seem inscrutable:  cutting advertisements with a pair of tiny scissors; making notations in a date book no larger than the size of her palm; scrutinizing a brochure for youth hostels, bringing the paper close to her face, even as her glasses lie on the table in front of her.  She wears pearls and a gold necklace with a cross, and her dress is the color of Delft tiles.  She continually busies herself as I nap. 
Meanwhile, the green parts of Belgium stream by; you could also be fooled into thinking the country were nothing but foliage.  Foliage and graffiti, actually.


A minor kerfuffle:  Matthew and I sit in a glassed-off compartment.  The first Brussels-Amsterdam train was canceled, and the one an hour later is packed.  We first share the compartment with a couple with a toddler daughter -- perfectly fine.  When the couple disembarked at Antwerp, however, we were then joined by a Frenchwoman, who did a suitcase-block of one of the seats.  

An African-American woman (Tanya) and her husband tried to enter, but there was a misunderstanding as to how many people were coming in, who had arrived first, and what the etiquette was for ‘saving seats.’ 
“We’re two people,” Tanya says.

“We’re two too,” the other woman replies. 

“I think you’re very ill-mannered,” Tanya says.

“I think you’re ill-mannered,” the other woman replies.

“Why are you still talking to me?”

“I’m going to ignore you now.”

Peace has been restored.  Tanya writes a book proposal on her laptop:  A Guide to Hating Your Government.  It’s a “satire” of some sort, with a surfeit of “scare quotes.” 

I preferred the toddler, drool and all. 

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