there are however many kinds of trains here and on a random day that has been gullibly subjected to the unbearable heat of the mediterranean summer, i got to find myself once for a short while in all of them. there is this one train, that has a platform right between the two currents of the biggest motorway of Athens and while waiting there all that can occupy your mind is the numerous cars passing you by from both directions and the huge dim grey colour of the ciment walls that support another road above you, that from the sky, forms a cross with the line of the motorway. the divine thing about it is the wind current that the cars produce. it is poisonous and to somenone not used to it, suffocating, sure, but it certainly is pleasant to me. most days.
this very special day, really as special as every other day is, while walking through the doors of the train car an old man talked to me. he asked me where this train was going and how many stops away his destination was. he was an old man, as he later told me 72 years of age, with subtle glasses and a weak navy baseball sort of hat fidgeting in his hands. i am not good with telling from someone's face how old he is, i usually always miss a decade or so, but if i were to be asked later i could propably tell by the way he talked to me and the things that he talked to me about that he was quite old. "born in 1940" he said proudly and i could not help but smile back to his kind nostalgic smile. he was form a small coastal city at the edge of Attica, named after the son of the centaur who taught Achilles. after i reassured him of the destination of the train he explained to me somewhat apologetically that in all his living years he had never used any means of public transportation. i agreed with him that it was propably better this way and he started telling me about how when the employers in the business he used to own were late he would tease and scold them until he realised that it was due to the unreliable schedule of the trains or the buses. now and again he would look down on his hands tracing the fibers of his hat and slightly smile to himself remembering those days, then he would look up back at me and ask me where i was going and wether i was a student and what i was studying. with that he told me about his kids, two of them, a boy and an older girl, the boy a mechanical engineer the girl psychologist, both educated in Boston USA, a city that judging from his bashful eyes he held dear, he a grandpa of four grandkids, three from the daughter and one from the son. he laughed and changed the subject telling me about how his wife specifically instructed him to take a taxi but additionally, just in case, gave him two tickets for the train.
he sat silently looking out the wide window to the blur of fast moving cars while i akwardly checked my cell for the call i have been waiting. he turned to me and said 'this is quite an adventure', and at that point i could have just as well melted into my seat.
he was a person and he had this whole life, a life spread out in 15 minutes, or all that could fit there. he was 72. 72. God, i am 55 years less than that. I am the entire life of my own father less than that. And i am nowhere near that excited about a train ride. Sure, because i do that nearly every day but there was this completely disarming look in his eyes. He was undeniably and unregretably content. And he was at calm. I am not complaining, i am satisfied with my amount of fascination about things, a pretty generous amount might i add, but this is just a person you don't meet every day. these are things that you cannot hear casually from a stranger in the train nowadays.
1940. propably his father or his uncles fought in the war, propably he met his wife or his children were born around the time of the university riots of '73.
I cannot imagine how many things can fit in 72 years. literally, my mind at some point loses it.
i am not quite sure what my mind thinks of all this.
reaching our destination, as it happens our routes in life were for a very short period of time entangled, he said to me 'well, have a good night young lady' with the kindest of nods and we took our own, opposite directions.