Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Train Travails

When I was in Germany, travelling on a train from Munich to Koln, I happened to be accompanied by a certain person I didn't know of from previously. In other words, the man was a complete stranger, and thus, obviously, unbeknown to me. It was an early morning.

Not as early as the one when the birds come out to get their respective worms but early enough to still notice that the garbage collectors had done their job, and done it well. And, so, I was not in a very conversational mood, being inclined to increase the distance between the two jaws at every second second. And as he, too, seemed disinclined for chit-chat, we sat for some moments like a couple of Trappist monks who have run into each other at the dog races.

But devoid of anything interesting to occupy my mind with, I decided to initiate a thorough observation of the subject in consideration and then, maybe later, if I could, check the correctness of my results by engaging the subject in conversation. His face was, well, to say the least, hairy. Actually, I think it would be more appropriate if I said that where his face should have been, there was only a narrow, brownish, rectangular strip which seemed to form his forehead. And since the rest of the face was covered in dense, brown shrubbery that shrouded the rest of the features, that should have been noticeable, from afar the person would, rather, have looked like an airstrip in the middle of a forest.

And at this moment, while I was still deeply engaged in silent observation the forestry, which had hitherto not spoken, said, "Guten Taag!" It was a harsh, rasping voice, in its timbre not unlike a sawmill. Anyhow, knowing about as much German as is enough to insult a person, I figured the subject had finally decided to display his social skills with a greeting. And I, civil as I am, replied with quite a cheery "Hello". And just at this conjunction in time, the food trolley chose to appear. Feeling quite nibbly, I ordered a sandwich while my companion went for a cake. Choosing not to deprive myself of the chance to make some, hopefully, insightful conversation, I cheekily commented about the weather and, thus, managed to start it off, but, in English, of course.

He was not a man who prattled readily, especially in a foreign tongue. He gave the impression that each word was excavated from his interior by some up-to-date process of mining. And our conversation was not as smooth as I would have liked it to be, since my companion chose, from time-to-time, to steer the cake through the forest into the black pit that was his mouth and the mining machinery, once stopped, took quite some time to gear itself into action again.

Our conversation, though long in duration, was very short when measured with the number of words spoken. He, having an English vocabulary of a German dictionary, and I, having trouble hearing the words that reached my audal sensory organs after having been passed though the filter that was the overgrowth, had what one would call an almost, but not entirely, pointless conversation. All I can mention, if you would want to know, at this point, is that the sandwich was delicious and what I did after, in Koln, is another story.

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