Thursday, May 26, 2011

In Soviet Russia, Train Ride You (Day 1 on the TSR)

Beep. Beep. Beep. Time to wake up, pack for the Trans-Siberian Railway, load up on groceries, and say das vedanya to Moscow.

The great taxi versus metro debate was in full swing as we tried to figure out how to get to the train station. Metro won and we set out. Karen reminded us that "tourists take taxis, travellers take the metro!" As we navigated the underground with our backpacks, sidebags, two bags of food, and three jugs of water, we certainly failed to blend in.

We settled into our third class compartments a little before the train took off. The three of us were joined by Galina, or Glinda the Magical Cupcake, as I like to call her (cupcake is our code name for Soviet). Galina, despite being an anti-Semitic Pole-hater, is very sweet - as sweet as a cupcake can be! ...Does Georgetown Cupcakes deliver??? Across from us, a jiggling woman spends her time either staring at us, or laying sprawled out on her tiny bed sleeping the day away.

It seems as though the three of us are the only ones here to appreciate the epic glory of this trip. The smell of wood burning stoves (my favorite) fill the carriage as we click-clack past wooden cottages and rural villages. The sight of the sunset over rolling hills and countrless white birch trees. The sound of the train as it roars into Russia's depths - clanking, rumbling, comforting to the ear. The taste of Paprika Pringles, kelbasa, and smooth vodka warm one's soul. The feel of rough sheets and crisp air. These are the things that make this journey great. In only six hours, I have begun to contemplate the beauty of little things. In fact, this has been one of my favorite lessons of this trip so far. The way sun reflects perfectly on puddles after the rain, the taste of bread, a smile, an empty bottle. As I sit here reflecting on this pinnacle teaching of Buddhism, Karen puts an earbud in my ear. A fun song with a '90s feel. One lyric hit me with impeccable timing: "learn to appreciate these simple little things." I have found the theme for my philosophical quest, and only hope I can carry it with me.
...the taste of bread...

Giggles and speedily spoken Russian come from down the hall and sweat is beginning to form again without air conditioning to ward it off. A lengthy whisper turns my head. A Muslim man, ethnically Russian, is on his knees, finger tips to his temples, mat sprawled out, bowing towards Mecca. This train ride has really just begun, but is utterly magnificent.

I fall asleep missing my best friend, Damian.

PS - Alive Again 

No comments:

Post a Comment