At the end of the journey

At the end of this tragicomic tale, one of two things: you will consider me either a snob or a liar. You will think I make up stories to make my website more fascinating or amusing. Promise me something, if you may: think of me as a picky snob. On this blog, I write about travels and reality. Everything I am about sharing with you, dear readers, is real and it usually turns out to be so much better (or so much worse) than every possible lie and invention.

I would like to start with an assumption: I like people. In general, I do. My perception of my fellow-travellers fiercely changes if you take the above “people”, you close them for an indefinite amount of time in two means of transport such as the train and the bus. Where people are out and about, enjoying the fresh air, they would hopefully behave in an acceptable manner and I could possibly continue to love them.

For business, pleasure, or merely by personal choice, I very frequently travel by coach or train and Humanity (I should not use capital letters to describe them) turns into something I will not define “beastly” to avoid insulting the animal world. Today, I decided to share with you, my dear readers, a series of real events that have occurred to me in the last 2-3 years. I will not follow any temporal logic: you will soon see that logic, here, does not apply much. Are you ready? Let’s start.

On a coach between the cheerful seaside city of Imperia and my beloved Torino, I listened for three hours to two 20-somethings discussing about meat. Yes. Meat. Grilled meat. Barbeque meat. Stews. Pork, veal, sheep, donkey, Irish and Argentine Angus. Meat. Meat. Meat. At the end of my journey, getting off at Porta Nuova station I was ready to embrace a new, unlikely faith: veganism.

On an intercity train (called FrecciaBianca in Italian), travelling from Pescara to Turin, 5 horrible children respectively cursed against god, threw up, broke a buggy (this was none of my business, to be honest, as the buggy belonged to one of them), spilled several soft-drinks, yelled while standing in the hallway, yelled, screamed, screamed, threw up again, used two cans of Coke as bongos, cursed, screamed, kept on exclaiming, every 30 minutes “We are in Torino!!” from Pescara to Porta Susa station, asked their mother for sandwiches, Fiestas, some pizza, bananas, magazines, some crackers, and matured cheese. At the end of my journey, I was ready to call for an exorcist. No, not to treat them. To treat me.

On another FrecciaBianca, this time from Verona to Milan, I learnt about Elena and Luca. Elena is in love with Luke, who is in love with Alessandro, who is in love with Stella. Now – Stella is a questionable name and that you cannot call a daughter as a celestial body, but that’s beyond the point. This cheerful group looked like a football game, a sport which I do not understand and therefore fail to appreciate. At the end of my journey, when Elena put down her phone, I wish I had the nerve to ask her a diagram of who sleeps with whom. How do they manage not to confuse the bedrooms, the names, the dates of birth?

On a high-speed train (FrecciaRossa, in Italian) from Bologna to Torino, I met who I was certain was Boosta, the charming keyboardist of my favourite band in Torino, Subsonica. Ok – I should admit that he looked a bit more slouched and slightly chubbier than I remembered him from concerts of my beloved band, but still hold some charm in my eyes. You have to know that I am not a VIP-enthusiast – if I ever met someone famous I either did not dare looking at them, or I pretend I did not recognise them. Still, this time, I wanted to share this enlightening encounter with my group of friends, supporters of the band. “Boosta is on the train with me”, I texted them. My 3 friends are wise and aware of my limited eye-vision, and therefore did not believe me for a second. I got mad at them. How dared them not believing me? At the end of my journey, I got up, got my bag, and while I was queuing to get off the train, I heard Boosta saying something like “multumesc” and “distractie plăcută.” He did not sound very Turinese to my big ego.

On another FrecciaRossa, from Milan to Torino, time magically began to expand 5 kilometres from Porta Susa station. Trenitalia, the major Italian train company, is made of magicians: they take a supposed-to-be high-speed train, they stop it a few minutes from the destination, they turn off the light and the air-con and they magically turn your 55-minute-journey into a 240-minute-journey. The lowest point of that journey, though, was still to come: after half an hour in total darkness, a man’s voice, behind me, started talking to Pucci. “Pucci” is the way we used to pronounce the name of a pink inanimate object, dog-shaped, in my childhood. At the end of that journey, I expected to turn around and see a 20-something-year-old behind me. I was so wrong. Do you know Sergio Marchionne? Middle-aged, jacket and tie, fountain pen sticking out of his pocket, financial magazines, and if I may add something gross, a bit of dandruff on his shoulders, you know the sort. Someone like him cannot possibly call his girlfriend/mistress/wife Pucci. Not in a million years.

On a regional train, between Savona and Genoa, I witnessed a real session of pedicure: nail file, knife, nail polish, everything. I know people, on their way to beatification, who are not annoyed by anything. However, since I have no plans to receive eternal gratitude, I feel on the verge of seizures when someone uses a nail cutter: TIC-TIC-TIC-TIC-TIC. You know the gist. You may wonder, “Why did not you move? Why have not you changed places? On a regional seats are not assigned”. Because I am a bit deranged. Over time, I started to consider these trips as anthropological exercises. Through them, I observe Humanity. I want to see how far they will go this time. On this train, I did not move because I wanted to see where this angelic-looking girl would have placed the nails she had just cut off. You are right. She put them right where you expected her to, dear readers. On the train floor.

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