15 January 2013

I met the whole world out there, yesterday. Ten hours, four trains, three train stations, three taxi rides, one bus trip. Three lousy cups of coffee, one black hair in a cheese sandwich, one sticky cinnamon bun. 
And an amazing array of ringtones.
The first taxi driver had a picture of his large family on the dashboard and when I asked about it - as in having a conversation while we were inching forward through the traffic jam - he told me that this was his family in Syria and that there has been no contact for the last four weeks and then he cried. And I could not hold his hand or anything because of the traffic and so we sat in silence for a while and when he dropped me he said, thank you. And then I started to cry.
On the first train, two excited young women asked me where to sit for the best view of the amazing valley, like, with all the castles. So we got all fixed up by the window and they sorted out their backpacks and their cameras and ipods and water bottles and peeled off their ski coats and fleeze hoodies and scarves and piled it all nicely into a heap to lean into. And then they both fell asleep for the entire journey through the amazing valley with all the castles. 
The second taxi driver was from Kurdistan and he was very happy, because in Kurdistan there are blizzards and mountains of snow and no taxis to drive and make money. He was also very happy because I said my three words in Kurdish but he would not translate them for me - nobody does. And I have no idea what it means but whenever I say them, people laugh happily.
The third taxi driver was from Afghanistan and after a short moment we both remembered that we had met before at my previous appointment at the clinic. He filled me in on his son's career (2nd year at law school) and his parents back in Kabul (safe and sound) and he gave me his card and I had to promise to book him as my personal driver the next time I come to this city.
On the fourth train I counted seven different nuns, i.e. in different outfits and totally unrelated, or probably only related due to the fact that they are nuns. I am getting lost here. Obviously, I haven't a clue about nuns. They all read books and smiled inwardly from time to time. One book was called Journey to Freedom.
Opposite me, I young man was reading The Story of Mathematics, which must have been a bit boring because he switched to Courage for Power after a while. 
And I looked out at the amazing valley with all the castles, all pretty and romantic, vineyards and churches and ferries. The castles that were once fortresses, strongholds of warlords, the river that was stained red with blood, dead bodies floating in it. The vineyards and forests that were filled with armies and rebels and tanks and bombs. Battlefields, bombed bridges with people fleeing across. Not so long ago.


  1. Wow ..... just, wow. What powers of observation you have and the ability to find out about people!

  2. It sounds as if you were offered encounters that helped you forget why you were on this journey.
    I hope that your lovely immunologist fed you words of energy and strength.

  3. thanks for taking me along... how did the appointment go?

  4. Hello Ms. Sabine. Hello. You are good with words and pictures. You had your babies at home.

  5. From tears to laughter to quiet reflection. Nice journey. I miss this part of the world. Very much.