Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Home again - train journey

I left a wet Glouestershire bracing itself for more floods and caught the plane to Prague. The plane set down in a foggy Czech Republic and I proceeded across town to catch the train to Ceske Budejovice. As I have said before, I like the journey down to South Bohemia - it is part of my submersion back into the Czech. The compartment was already half full when I came in and settled down on the leatherette seating.

I rang my friend and told her which train I had caught and asked her to sort a taxi to meet me the other end. My travelling companions watched and listened, recognising that I was speaking in English and went back to their conversation secure in the thought that I was not eavesdropping. I wasn't really, just catching the occasional word or phrase, sometimes enough to understand. And of course I was able to watch them, again they paid no attention to me as if my visual interpretation was somehow also alien and so I was unable to read their faces and actions.

On one side sat a couple facing each other by the window. She was in her late fifties unless the lines on her animated face were prematurely the gift of too many cigarettes. The one thing that contradicted the years was her long and thick brown hair which fell about her shoulders and of which she was clearly proud, as her subconscious stroking and sorting betrayed. All the time she chattered to her male companion, leaning forward in her seat in a conspiratorial way, whilst he sat back in his, giving the occasional monosyllabic response. They were friends I thought, but not too close and he less close than she. I was right - she got out at different stop.

Opposite me was a young man, who reminded me of one of those daddy long-legs you get in the bath. He was all long arms and legs which he crunched up in a suit large enough to fit his height but too wide to fit his frame. His face was almost the face of a boy - it was as if the hormones had spent all their energy telling his limbs to grow, and they had run out of puff when it came to his childish chin. Each wished me goodbye "Nasdar" as they got out of the train, the daddy longlegs saying it in English.

At the station the taxi was waiting and I was sped off along the foggy road to Cesky Krumlov. The fog was pressing in but my taxidriver insisted on overtaking any car that was driving cautiously. As we passed Lidl just outside Krumlov I found myself smiling and despite the driving a sense of wellbeing was creeping over me, growing as we sped on, I was coming home.


Philip Wilkinson said...

Given the widespread Czech belief that Britain is ever shrouded in fog, they'll understand when you say you feel at home! I hope you have some clear, bright winter days too.

Durham Lad said...

Kafka - so I'm told - spoke of Prague "Getting its nails into you" and thus you will love it forever more. It's happened to me and now I look forward to falling in love with the rest of this lovely country.


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