Saturday, October 23, 2010

The World of the Past

*** I wrote this on the way from bordeaux to paris, during my two week period in france.***

Waking up this morning to the sound of the crashing thunder, hearing the rain patter on the portion of our air conditioning unit that jutted out of the window, feeling my spirits sink at the sight of the dark grey clouds that swarmed over the city of Bordeaux, blocking the sun from shining ever so kindly, on our upturned, awaiting, sunless faces, I sighed deeply at the realization that this would not be a good day.  Of course my predictions turned true when, after talking to the woman at the front desk for what seemed like hours, struggling through the language barrier that prevented us from communicating freely, and finally just handing her the credit card, relenting to the fact that our sanity was more precious than any money we could ever spend, as soon as we stepped foot outside of the lobby door, the rain drops started falling ever so heavily onto our somewhat coiffed hair, mildly worn clothing, and slightly beaten-up suitcases, leaving us looking like we just stepped out from underneath a shower.  We struggled our way across the cobblestone pathways, trying to keep our recalcitrant bags from rocking onto one wheel, unbalanced, and falling over.  We struggled, and we lost that battle, numerous times.  Taxi anyone?  No. that would be ridiculous, seeing as we strategically chose our hotel from among the innumerable hotels in Bordeaux, France, supremely based upon the fact that it was less than a block away from the train station from which our train would depart to arrive at Paris later today.  
Water dripping from the ends of my hair, shoes squeaking on the tiled floor, suitcase leaving two parallel lines behind me, that I would dare anyone to try and follow, under the assumption that I would get lost within three minutes of being in the station, I led the three of us into the station.  I could feel the people’s eyes on us as we sloshed through the hordes of well dressed, sophisticated french people, all knowing exactly what they’re doing.  We waited the allotted hour and a half that we had given ourselves, as extra time, in case we got lost somewhere between the street corner where the hotel let us out, and the other side of the street, where the entrance to the train station was.  
When we finally heard the clicking of the announcement board, and saw our track number appear, we followed the stampede towards what seemed like the right track. It turned out that following the crowds does pay off sometimes, when we stepped out onto the platform, to wait another 10 minutes for our train to arrive.  I stared at my train ticket, rifling through my mental french vocabulary flash cards, trying to remember if I knew a certain word that I saw, and when I realized I did not, I swallowed my pride, and asked one of the afore mentioned french people standing nearby.  A whistle interrupted the man’s explanation, announcing that our train was pulling into the station, dangerously close.  We saw the number 10 denoting that the approaching train car was indeed our car, we saw that number approach quickly, then quickly disappear as the car passed us, and eventually stopped 50 feet away.  We picked up our pace, determined not to miss our train.  We pushed our way through all the people crowded around the openings, apparently willing to pack themselves in like sardines in a can, just to get a seat on this train.  Arriving at our door, lugging my heavy suitcase, and seeing the pile of such suitcases stacked up at the top of the stairs that we had to walk up in order to take our seats, I knew this would cause a problem.  I tried to stack my bag on top of the others, and after failing a couple times, i just left it, and went to take my seat.  However, others wouldn’t let well enough alone.  They had to try and re-arrange all the bags so that they could fit.  I sat in my pre-determined seat, and tried to relax, but was astonishingly unable to, due to the various passengers trying to hoist their huge suitcases into the overhead carry-on racks, leaving half the suitcase sticking out, and the woman across the aisle absolutely mortified.  
         Finally the train starts moving, and everything settles down. The three of us with our respective ipod headphones stuck in our ears, consciously rejecting any type of conversation.  Currently I’m sitting, watching rolling fields of diligently cared for sunflowers fly past my window, followed by shorn fields of hay, with nothing left over by the harvesting machines except the cylindrical, tightly bound bales of hay (closely resembling our currently tightly wound tempers), scattered around.  Things got strange when the other passenger pulled a brown paper bag out of his modified carry-on bag , and began reaching in, and grabbing, after his foot long baguette sandwich, a bag of chips, a bag of cookies (which he proceeded to dangle in front of our noses, asking if we wanted some, which WE proceeded to decline) and finally a large drink.  How about some sleep?