Sunday, 8 February 2009

Recording life



Travelling can, at times, be rather tedious and boring. But every time I pass my time in train stations, in checking-in queues, in airports, I get very excited about observing people. Everyone has a story to tell, a journey to make and reasons for being where they are. Some are sad, others happy. One has won the lottery, another learnt her auntie has just died.
I find myself guessing who they are, why they are there and where they are heading.

Fragments of life are passing by in front of your eyes and there is not enough time to capture all of it. I sometimes wish I could.

This afternoon in Stockholm, I saw this fair haired girl on the tube, frantically texting away on her mobile. Nothing unusual about that. But she was totally unaware of people around her, completely obsessed by the words her quick fingers were creating on her mobile display - and, what's more, she had this special smile on her face. I am convinced her lover was at the other end of the invisible telephone line. It was a revealing smile, meant for the person she could not live without, that kept her going, that meant the world to her. I think.

A man from - and I am guessing here - South America, rushed in to the crowded, somewhat steamy waggon and managed to get a seat just right opposite me. He looked at me for a split second, with warm, friendly eyes. Then he took a deep breath and I could see he was tired - even exhausted, maybe grateful for finding a place to rest his weary body after running along the platform to catch the train. He closed his eyes and just...existed on his own for a while. I was wondering where his mind went. Maybe back to his home country and folks at home? Or maybe he was pondering about what to have for tea tonight. I will never know.

Whilst strolling through a town, you hear little snipbits of reality flowing in the air. This can be just as interesting. I have been meaning - many times - to carry a small note book with me and make quick notes of things people say as they pass you. Not everything, you understand - only the good ones. Yesterday I met a couple in the street and the young man said, when passing a restaurant: "We should go here. We have never been here before." The words just kept ringing in my ears and sort of made sense, in a slightly philosophical way.

A couple of streets away, and a woman says - with some emphasis - to what seemed to be her partner, maybe brother - or friend: "You cannot promise someone you will feel things, you know."

Again - very wise words. When I start thinking of how many wise words must be uttered by similarly wise people in the world, it gets pretty mind-blowing. Someone ought to make a record of this. Write it down, for the future. I just might do that.

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