Thursday, August 30, 2012

Train To Athens

It takes five hours and twenty minutes to go from Thessaloniki to Athens, which means I have three hundred and twenty minutes to kill. The fact that I find trains particularly fascinating makes this a whole of a lot easier. I love how you can just sit, music in your ears, and wait as a whole country unfolds before your eyes.

Equally intriguing are the two locals inhabiting this six-seater two-thirds full cabin. Seat 65, there's this tanned, white-bearded, white-haired man sitting next to the window. His light grey eyes pierce through the daily newspaper, a newspaper whose headlines I can't even begin to pronounce. His bag, sitting idly by on the empty seat next to him, is the mystery of the hour. I'd like to think he's a photographer on the way to the city to make his childhood dreams come true. Open to interpretation are the wrinkles beneath his eyes. I'd like to think he's married. I think he found true love but it's not enough. Maybe he wants to tick off every bullet point on his bucket list before it's too late. Maybe now's the time for him to actually bother.

Seat 66, blue trousers, white shirt, long black-grey hair, late forties. He's been staring out the window all ride long. I wonder what he is thinking about. I wonder if there is someone he's going back to. He gives off the artist vibe, but he could very well be a businessman, too rich for his own good. His seemingly expensive watch is the only possession I'm interested in. Time goes by really slowly when you have nowhere else to be and nothing else to do.

The sun is on its way down now. Train conversations have been had, time has been killed, and Greece has been crossed, which means the city is now within reach. However, memories of the afternoon naps on the beautiful sandy beaches, the clear blue waters, the homemade sangria and the late night card games on the breezy balcony will remain.

Just like this constant itching for this life altering addiction called travelling.

(written on Wednesday, August 22, 2012)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fish in a Bowl

Quite frankly, I don't understand how I got here. I can't seem to fathom the fact that this year is almost over. That person sitting on my bed back home, staring at the yellow walls doubting herself, that's not me. She wants to be, and she will eventually get there, but she's not me. Not yet anyway. A lot can change in a year. A lot has changed in a year.

Moving to a city five times the size of your home country can be very tricky. Imagine a fish in a bowl. Now imagine that same fish in the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, my point exactly. Fish has to search for its own food, clean after itself, and avoid being eaten up by much bigger much more powerful fish. In a nutshell, Fish has to learn to adapt, because if it doesn't, there's no way it will survive. Some may call it survival of the fittest. Truth be told though, it has nothing to do with fitness, nor survival. It has everything to do with heart, and will.

Then, without you even realising, you become a part of them, a part of these underwater breathers; breathers who stand on the right side of an escalator, who hold the door for you no matter how busy their day may be, who act like they're reading the daily newspaper simply because they want to avoid eye contact in the subway. Whether you like it or not, you become a part of this school of fish. Sometimes, at least after a while, they all start to look the same. Just like fish breathing through their gills. They're all different but they're all the same. Just like you.

Nevertheless, you'd still choose the ocean over the bowl. Because even though the bowl is fun for a while, it gets cloudy with time, and with time, your vision starts to get blurred. And blurs and life do not go well together. Risks, on the other hand, do. There is nothing more fulfilling than sitting in one of these two-storey-high red buses, crying your heart out, knowing you took a risk and you made it happen. You actually did it. Not Fish, you. You and this overwhelming sense of gratitude towards this heart-poundingly beautiful life.