Yolda / Onderweg / En route

Soul train

An unusual and chaotic morning. Jonathan goes out early to make some shots. I just wake up in time for breakfast. The other group meets at 10 a.m. to meet their Italian migration musician. We won’t see them back until in exactly 3 days, in Györ.

TrainA 20 minute walk to the station. The cool air opens my lungs; happily and with a refreshed mind I take in the streets, the people and the buildings. Meanwhile Özge cusses her suitcase is too large.

On the platform we get on the train with roomettes. My TransSib-experience all over again. The pravadnik checks the tickets and rules over her wagon. Two bunk beds. The carpet in the hallway. The endless vistas and changing images of nature, while you are busy writing reports or reading a book. Jonatan films like a mad man. Incredible views, Thomas sitting at a table American Diner-style, scenes in the corridor, Thomas who is playing the guitar…

The dining car turns out to be a picturesque place. The man is very short, the woman apparently works there against her liking. Filming is not allowed. The coffee is lukewarm at best and not particularly tasty. But you can smoke and when the gang lights up a cigarette, a clearly drunk man offers Özge a plate that she can’t refuse: “I’m Romania man! I give you food! I don’t care if you no want! Take it!” The simplest way out is to accept the plate and collectively munch it. Later in the evening, he’s still in the café area of the wagon, we suspect with his younger compagnon de route for one day. A discussion about money or alcohol, who knows, starts. They stand up, elevate their voices, embrace each other and then sit again to drink something.

Train rideAnother spooky character is an old man with a hat who every so often stumbles into the bar and courteously begs for a cigarette. During the aperitif he talks to a group of young men; by midnight he talks to an almost eccentric woman of about fifty with a fur coat, large rings and necklaces and fine white cigarettes. She smokes and stares off into space. Later she grants him a chat; he kisses her hand.

In between the three artists rehearse a melancholic song in Thomas’s coupe. Afterwards to relax some celluloid closet.

In the evening the manager appears to be loose at dinner. “What you want? Do not understand?”, he jokes. “Czech beer is best beer.” You can’t smoke in the dining car, he proclaims from his table where he himself lustily blows cigarette smoke into the air. It’s a long wait for the grilled chicken and pork and it’s extremely cold in that particular car, but the portion is big and tasty. I haven’t eaten that much pickled vegetables in my life.

Traditions should be kept alive: we conclude to go for a beer. There was a lot of cigarette smoke. Migrants smoke like T .. urks. Out of boredom, to pass the time? Or because it’s a social ritual that accompanies conversations? Because talking, that’s what you do when you’re on long trips on train rides, when darkness falls by 17h. Sometimes sheer nonsense and jokes. But we also want to change the world enthusiastically: emancipation of foreigners and gay men. “Being able to love, that’s the most important!”

Text written by Steven Van Renterghem, occasional production assistant and tour guide