Friday, March 21, 2008

Post Titled: Thursday Nonfiction Men on a train 16.47-21.32
NOTE: not going to care much for spelling on this grimey keyboard this morning.
I had a seat in one of the 6-seater cabins on the train from Berlin to Prague, there was a beat-up looking youngman with 2 black eyes sitting in my seat when I arrived, asked him to move so he went to the seat across from me. THe car quicklz\y filled with provincial germans and got underway, I hid in teh pages of the UK paperback edition if "I am Charlotte Simmons" which I bought for €1 last week, but judging by the cover my fellow travellers probably thought it was soft porn, grrr.
Eastern European enters and points to his reserved seat, this boots black eye guy for the second time and he laves the cabin, practically snarling in the man's face as he laves: "SPITZNASE!" and leaves.
Eastern European man is old and tired looking (I leater find out that he is 30- three yoears older tham me), he is cute, with Wind in the Willows-type features and balding, he has the largest backpacks I have ever seen- several, and brings them in along with 3 large packages of Unicef pampers (nappies), the Germans' feathers are ruffled. How dare he cause so much commotion.
He sits, we procees, me with my nose in the book, dozing off from time to time, I lose focus then wake up not sure about how ling I was out/ one minute? 10?
The Eastern European man is asking little questions "what time is it, can I use your phone for a second if I give you a euro" three German women- one done-up too-old to party raver chick who looks like she has done a ton too much esctacy, a daffy spießig lady next to me and then a 20-something roly-poly hairgelled dorfer techno guy (who looks like he could be a lesbian plummer), they all deflect the man's questions and are basically just rude. It is almost like watching kids lick on a nerd at recess.
Read, read ,read, and there is chatter- talking about the Love Parade and other techo music fests and the prices of milk and sugar and I tune as much out as possible.
Eastern European man leaves to use the restroom adn as soon as he is out of earshot they all talk shit like a bunch of hens (including the teenage boy) about him while he's gone. As George would say: "Fucking villagers, man. Buncha Fucking villagers."
Fortunately all the Germans exit by the time we reach Dresden.
Then it is just me and him.
He asks to use my mobile to send an SMS text to his cousin in Hungary.
"Ich glaub ich hab' GAR -also; fast- keine geld auf meine handykonto, ich hab's nicht hochgeladen, sorrz/ aber du kannst es versuchen wen du wilst, aber ich glaub es geht nicht-"
"Abber geht vielleicht?"
"Vielleicht. Weis nicht."
He types his text and tries to send about 5 times, but I have too little money on my phone.
"Sorry. Wohin fährst du?"
"Ahh, Budapest, heute: Daenemark-Budapest! Ish war letzt zeit 34 länder. Asyl -weis du politik asyl? hatte ich Deutschland, England, Irland, dann sagte alle: 'WEG!' aber Rumanien ist EU! - ja,nicht mehr ist ok, EU alles offen alles offen/ Ish komme aus Rumanien, weis du-? Weis du Rumanien?"
"Ja, ja, natuerlich"
"Ahh- du bis Czech?"
"Nein nein, Amerikaner- "
"Ahh, amerika, gutes land gutes land, Bush guter man- hilfst du mir nach Amerika to gehen, hast du familie wo ich eine vertrag bekommen kann?"
I have often gotten myself into conversations with Eastern Europeans who gush about what a good man President Bush is, - I tend to hold my breath and my tongue and cringe and say: "Ahh, yesss- good man, good president -but in his foreign and ecomomic and domestic policies he isn't so smart..." Cringe, smile, nod nod, wink. You just can't argue about this stuff. There is a tendency to see the toppling of Saddam as a heroic move and the hunting down of "terroriosts" as a heroic move... anyhow, moving right along, I will skip the Euro-Denglish and just enter some of the highlights of our hours-long conversation, which revolved a lot around money and where it is expensive to live/visit and where not:
"Amerika, good land, good land, good people." (Never been there and has never met an American)
5 minutes later, his position changes:
"Amerika, dangerous, full of Mafia- I saw it in the journal, read it in the journal in Romania and saw it on the television: Amerika very dangerous. You sleep with one eye open in Amerika because the Arab terrorists see you have money or expensive thinsgs and they come to get it in the middle of the night, you are not safe, everyone want your things"
President of Romania, good man- taking out all corruption, good man!" (5 minutes later) "I need something, I need police help I go to police station and I pay them and they do what I ask-"
Me: "Oh, -is that expensive?"
Maybe Gypsy Guy: "Mhh, no Rumanien nothing is expensive."
(later)"My grandfather was a Gypsy Prince but he was killed by the Governor (or president) because of politic and gold."
(later later) "Jesus save you, you read bible each night before you go to bed and then Jesus come in year 3000 and save you. We thought year 2000 but now probably year 3000"
(later) "There is Chinese people in New York? mmh- Owwwh" (gives twisted face of disapproval)
crossing the border into Czech he says "Now come GrenePolizei, but not they can say NOTHING! They no ask me if have money, they no ask me where I from where I going , they no ask me why why why - where you go why you go, whey no ask me 'how much money' I have, heHEH- EU! Alles offen, EU!" (no border police come through the train afterall)
he bursts out, elated "HAH! Kein Grenz Polizei, keine fragen mehr! Alles OFFEN, EU, ALLES offen!"
(later) "Kinder, gut. Frau- auch gut, ich liebe meine frau, aber sie hat auch 2 kinder von andere Mann, von vorher- und ich soll auch diese kider lieben, also- die sind OK, aber die sind nicht meine kinder. Schade. aber ich leibe meine frau..." goes into come complicated family politics, his brother is interested in his wife, especially when he is out of town for extended periods of time- "Eez no' good, eh?"
"No, not good." I reply in earnest.
(and later) "You know Dracula- also from Rumanien, Transylvannien, schlaue mann, women come- pretty rich young women and they want he drink blood-. He sell castle no want Hollywood no want, ahh, don't know- spanish come, want make movie, ahh, he move castle, aHHH- hmm, he want no..." This is a 10 minute Englich-German-Romanian explanation which I nod-along with but cannot make heads not tails of. Apparently the conclusion was supposed to be that Count Dracula was no effing sellout.
at some point I kept trying to get back to reading I am Charlotte Simmons but it never lasted more than a minute before he found another random subject to talk about. He asked whether they used Euro or somethign else as money in Prague, and not wanting to appear to much of an smartass I just saind "uhm, not sure-" so he went a few cars away to ask. The conversaiton was quite loud and could be heard:
"IN Czeck Republik, they using Euro?" he asks to some young dorks.
"No, no, our country -. ahm- our country at the moment hate the euro. really will fight against the euro- so, yes, we - we have crowns." Conversation goes on a flip-flip-loop for a few minutes, always revealing teh same answer: no euro, always re-emphasizing the same points.
He comes back to cabin. "In America, they using Euro soon?"
"noo- no no no,,,nooooo-!" I explain.
In the half- hour before arrival in Prague he begins un-packing then re-packing. He has the largest backpack I have ever seen EVER. it is a soft-sided suitcase slightly overweight-teardrop shapeyou could easily fit a full grown person in it if they curled up into a ball. He asks for assistance after the zipper breaks. We pack and re-pack and get the mounds of childrens' clothing, toothpaste, bedsheets, shampoo and whatnot he has manages to stuff into his multiple backspacks, suitcases, and tattered plastic bags. When everything is secure we flop back town and study our trains progress, I peek into my own tattered plastic bag full of fruit and juice-
"Wanna bananna?"
We relax and eat banannas. He continutes:
"Amerika- hm, good land, gute leute, how I go to amerika, they want money for visa?"

Upon arrival in Prague I am met by Mr. White, to whom I quickly explain that i must help my new friend carry his things to his train connection, after some confusion all goes well, we shake and he is off on the night train to Budapest.



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