Monday, October 27, 2008

Travel Acquaintances

6:45 PM

On the train from Goteborg to Copenhagen

On the ship to Stockholm I met a Finn who works as a bouncer and a Russian electrical engineer who had been on a long trip to India. I forgot both their names, so let us call them Jari, the Finn and Dmitry, the Russian.

I was initially taken aback to see Jari in the room. I said a silent prayer. You see, just outside I had seen 4 “Yo Dude”s and was hoping that no one like that would be sharing my cabin. I had a long bout of travelling to do and getting a sound night’s sleep was a priority. Most travelers on the Turku-Stockholm ferry came for the cruise rather than for Stockholm. The ship is a gigantic amusement park actually. There are decks of amusement, from casinos to discos to saunas and it is more of a let-it-all-out trip. And I did not want anyone in my room to let it all out that night.

I entered my room to see a swarthy guy with tattoos all over his body. However, as these things turn out, he was quite soft-spoken and was keener than me for a good night’s sleep. I must confess to find his behavior a tad disconcerting. He kept looking out of the door, and saying, “Wonder if we are alone”! I was reminded of the tunnel scene from the movie Eurotrip and that did not help! However, in the course of the conversation, I learnt that he was going to Stockholm for a Jujitsu competition and hence did not want any party dudes. I was however eager to learn more about the bouncing profession. But before I could quiz him on how one became a bouncer, the interview process, tips and all that, a most curious person entered.

In entered a short and stout man who started moving about the small space looking to place his bag. Usually, the formality in such occasions (though it is not written in stone, one might add) is to exchange pleasantries with the others sharing the cabin. On the contrary, the new visitor seemed keener to learn the topology of the room. After having placed his bags and coat, he greeted us. I tried not to laugh.

The inventor of the phrase pot belly must have seen Dmitry when he coined the phrase. The man had a properly pot-like belly. He was balding, but he compensated for the lack of hair on his pate with a well groomed beard. His English was not that great. He spoke in broken sentences. But when he realized that I was from India, he immediately took out his passport and showed it to me. He had visited India in 1976. He had visited India as part of a government delegation and had gone to Mathura, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Nepal. He spoke in short sentences about those places and to confess I found his manner of speaking more interesting that his experiences. Clearly, he had been on a “Karma Cola” trip, seeing India in clich├ęd terms. But still, it provided a common conversation point.

I learned that he too had a similar journey schedule like mine, except that he was doing Europe on a bus. Then he started on his dinner and I took out a book. It is really very comfortable traveling on the ship. After some time, I really could not help noticing the concentration with which Dmitry ate his food. He had bought a lot of pre-cooked stuff and seeing him go about using each one was interesting in itself.

After that novelty wore out in five minutes, I drifted off to a dreamless sleep! One does meet all types in the ship!

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