That train ride.

  •  Benjamin Whitaker
  •  August 10, 2014
  •  blog

I took a train the other day to the west of the city, which doesn’t really justify a blog. But this particular train ride was different.

When I entered the train I sat down beside a girl of about 20. I had my guitar and she had a ukelele. Seeing as I felt that we already had something in common I started a conversation with her.

She was from the South of Argentina and had just started travelling around the country with some friends staying in a tent. Her form of funding her travels was by busking at traffic lights. While the cars were waiting at the lights she would do circus style juggling tricks.

I asked her how long she was going to travel for. She told me that she had no timeframe in mind. I admired her courage and willingness to be free. No restraints, no fixed abode, no rules. Just living in the present, taking each day as it comes.

She got off the train after a few stops as there was a particular set of traffic lights that paid well in her last visit. Away she went leaving me thinking of the adventures that would come her way.

During my conversation with the girl I had heard music and singing from the next carriage. Soon two men arrived carrying guitars. Dirty, old clothes, broken guitars, big gums and missing teeth. I am embarrassed to say, but I was sure that the beautiful music coming from the next carriage can’t have been coming from these two.

These two scruffy looking blokes put me in my place. They started to play their guitars, but when they opened their mouths it was like my fellow passengers and I had been transported into a theatre to listen to two Italian opera singers. It was truly beautiful. No words can quite describe it but I can still hear those two angelistic harmonies.

They finished their songs, the passengers clapped, and put money in the hat that one of them carried around.

Shortly after, 3 children walked through the carriage passing around notes. The note was asking for money to feed their family. They walked past, left a note and carried on passing them around to other passengers.

One of the children, a little girl with long hair returned to collect the note and or some money. I didn’t want to give money but I had a mandarin in my bag. I handed her the note and the mandarin.

She looked down at what I had placed in her hands and then looked back at me, said gracias, and gave me a smile that cut me to pieces.

It wasn’t a smile of an innocent, little seven year old girl but one of a woman who had lived a life-time and seen many things. A look in her eye that expressed a thousand stories in one glance. I can only imagine what those eyes had seen. Her words said thank you but her face said much more.

She walked on not knowing the impact of her seconds of interaction with me had left. I sat there with a tears in my eyes feeling that I, myself, had lived a life-time in that short moment.

So that was my train ride to the west. On that journey I encountered 3 generations, and all were engaging in various forms of work. Each of them had a lasting effect on me. Each painted a distinctive picture. Quite a train ride. Look forward to the next one.







Recent Comments

  • Janis

    Monday, 11 Aug, 2014

    I encountered this post while I was going to write about the train journey I did in Switzerland for the newspaper.
    My experience was comparatively ‘colorless’ than yours. On my train, everyone sat quietly, only me was the one walking from carriage to carriage. Each of them had a story to tell and most of them are the happy stories.
    This is like life, right? people come and go, like passengers getting on and off, they appeared in our life to give us some hints, leave us some sparks or impacts….different trains with different scenery….
    Anyway, wish you another beautiful and ‘fruitful’ train journey.


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