July 21. Train stories #3.

Someone pulls my arm and points at the window. Suddenly, it was there: Lake Baikal. Majestic, pristine, a venerable lady hidden somewhere in the center of the Eurasian landmass. It is wonderful, cameras are pulled out including mine, there is an atmosphere of gaiety on the train, people smile. And she never lets her visitors go empty-handed, that old lady. As the train halts shortly at what seems not more than a hamlet, delicious smoked fish from the lake is sold by some older women (it is very common that salespersons gather at the tracks to offer their specialties to the travelers). Back in the compartment I am now sharing with a mother and her two daughters from Bilgorod(?) we laugh together as we attempt to communicate relying on my makeshift brushed-up phrasebook kind of Russian. We share a fish together and it is absolutely delicious. I am fed, fish and bread, and I’m grateful in-depth.
“Priadno appetita!” says I to the Uzbek at the window-table close by. He takes a whole fish and just hands it to me.
“Spasiba.”
That was so kind. We share this fish too as the still lake watches us from the window that zooms along her now dark shores. There is a word for “to eat” that suits our fish-feast better than the “ect” I come up with, invoking laughter among my Russian friends because it translates to “munching” rather than having a decent supper. “Sabaka!” We all laugh now, and I feel happy sitting there with greasy, fishy fingers, listening to a typical discussion between the Uzbek boy and a Russian woman if the wodka should be honored with a typical small glass or if you can just drink it from a plastic cup. The mother of the two daughters, Victoria and Regine (I am not making this up) smiles showing her golden teeth. I’m back on track, I think. Quite literally in this case, I have this electrifying, enthousiastic, thrilling feeling again. I’m doing it. Yeah! I even temporarily forget that someone’s missing. It is as if the bumps of the train waggons on the tracks are very good for my liver.

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Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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