zaterdag 24 augustus 2013

Not like them?

It was very busy at the ferry terminal. Quite normal in the summertime: lots of tourists from the mainland of Europe go to London and people from the UK like to visit countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany. Once in a while the amount of people is doubled by groups of people from India or Pakistan. And like today they are easily  recognized because of the way they are dressed.
While Europeans walk around in shorts and t-shirts, they wear winter clothes and coats.
People like me don't like these big groups, because when you check in and they go first;  you'll have to wait for ages.

This time it was not different from other times. A few group leaders in orange jackets tried to get some order and get all these overdressed people in a queue. One was a small guy, a bit overweight and sweating like anything. He kept checking schedules and shaking his head in disbelief and disgust. One was more normal sized, he had a schedule in the pocket of his jacket and was enjoying a cup of coffee while having his feet up on another chair. The third one was a very tall guy with a broad smile that never left his face. He was the one who got all his folk in one line.

A member of staff of the ferry company came over and I could hear her saying: "Could you please tell your people to go a bit more to the back? We want to let the other passengers go first and then handle your groups." The small group leader got very agitated and started to shout while the coffee lover just stayed where he was. He just smiled friendly and didn't do anything. The tall guy just nodded, grinned and started to convince his people to back off a bit. The person of the ferry company dragged a few poles with red string towards the group and like that made a sort of division between the groups of Indian people and the rest of the passengers.

Suddenly a girl popped up from behind the Indians; to me she looked like a typical Dutch girl. Quite tall, slim, on sandals and with a backpack. She apologized to the ferry staff member and got from behind the red line and joined the rest of us.
A boy of about seven or eight observed what happened. His mother stood next to him.
"You better stay close to me", she said. "They might think you belong to that group."
Like his mother he was dressed in jeans and a shirt. But the color of his skin was a lot darker than hers.
He reacted like he was a bit shocked: "They would not do that! I'm different."
"They might not notice, Edward. And why do you think you are different?"
"I wear normal shoes, Mum."
"They do too."
"I have nice hair."
"They do too."
"I have normal clothes."
"They do too."

I could see him thinking about this, having a good look at his and their clothing.
Something his mother was saying wasn't right, he could sense it.
But to be really sure, he slipped his hand in hers.
And it stayed there until they got their boarding tickets.

vrijdag 16 augustus 2013

Music gives you peace

Using the train for travelling is a good thing to do. It's always fast and you don't get the stress of being on a busy road. And lots of times you can find a quiet part of the train where you can read a book or a magazine.
And nowadays you can even go on your computer, so you can continue being connected to your loved ones.
This time I'm not very lucky with quietness: a family takes the seats on the other side of the aisle.
Father in his shorts, mother in a dress with a big flower pattern and two boys. One is around 14 and quite slim, wearing jeans. The other is a few years younger, wearing a jogging suit. He is very much overweight, so maybe it is not very comfortable for him to wear anything else.

The boys are arguing. The youngest one shouts: "You can't keep these skittles for yourself! That isn't fair!"
His brother reacts: "You almost ate the whole packet.  Now it's my turn to have a few. There are hardly any left." The younger one kicks against the table.
Mother gets into action: "Now you boys don't fight. Here is a bag of wine gums. These are nice too."
She puts the bag in front of the fat boy.
He is still not happy: "It's not fair!"

But nobody is listening anymore. Father is busy texting on his mobile phone, mother is reading an important article about singer Peter Andre in a magazine and his brother has put earphones on his head, listening to his I-pod.
The boy continues sulking and sinks down on his chair; his chin is resting on his fat stomach and he manages to get his feet next to mine. The foot nearest starts tapping on the floor.

                                                         Rockabilly hairstyle

After 5 minutes I have enough of this and drag my luggage to another seat, a bit away from the happy family.
I look out of the window, but after some time it feels like somebody is watching me.
I notice a man in his forties sitting backwards in his seat looking in my direction. He is sitting two rows in front of me.
He is doing something I've never seen before: he is spitting in his hands and rubbing the saliva in his hair.
It's very shiny because of this and he sculpts it into a sort of rockabilly style.

When he is done, he stares with an angry look on his face in my direction.
Only then I notice the young man in the seat between us; he has managed to lie on the seats and he has earphones on his head. His eyes are closed; I don't know if he is asleep or just enjoying his music. Vaguely I can hear something escaping the earphones. He is very peaceful and it is very clear that the angry looks of mister spit hair don't reach him.

I pick up my book and the train starts leaving the station.