domenica 21 giugno 2009

14/02/09 Murder on the Orient Express.

The Train rides swinging on the rail that snakes through the Thai jungle.
I am going through the last train leg that will bring me right into the core of Bangkok. The train is not exactly the Orient Express (the real one costs 2500 us dollars only for the 4 days leg that leads you from the Singapore's spice-smelling shores to the beating loud Bangkok's heart), but the path is the same, and we'll be happy the same. As compensation for not having the luxury of mahogany furnitures, livery attendants, elaborated meals matched with class wines served in crystals, my train will soon have something of the Orient Express: the murder. I am about to choke and throw off the train the little child in front of me.
Noisy, fidgety, devoted and molded by his little console video-game which he interacts with shaking and dribbling down like an epileptic. When his mother tries shyly to take it off his hands the little monkey falls prey of convulsions, yelling and wriggling. Apparently, prolonged and univocal exposure to videogames made him idiot to any harmonious movement: when lunch is served even me can manage the chopsticks better, he grasps them as knifes and tries to string the rice noodles, eventually surrendering and sticking the whole face into the bowl, open-mouth chewing and staining all over himself. With a metabolism completely regimented by the frenetic playstation rhythm which imposes him spurts and goggles accordingly with monotonous patterns leading him to an absolute inability to follow the flow of real life, with its pauses and death moments; he behaves as a possessed, alternating insane expressions and nonsense externalizations.

His mother doesn't reprehend, she doesn't correct him, she doesn't even try to animate any critical sense or judgment in him: she cleans up his protruding chin like an attender to an old doted man, she supports his head and she puts as soon as possible in his hands the videogame (which she even needs to prepare for him, as the monkey is not able to use his opposable thumbs to pull out and change the game disks).
Trying to forget about this grotesque show I look outside the window. This part of Thailand is quite flat, overhanging hills and cliffs covered by plants tipical of the Malaysian landscape are by now gone: a wide, plain, flatland broadens all over, just dot time to time by a limestones (or, as I suspected, an artificial hill made out of sanded garbage).
I decide to go to the restaurant car both to escape the homicidal instinct and to stretch my legs, for sure not for the food, that even if not too bad it definitely doesn't worth the stretch of going through the lethal doors in between one car and the other: each crossing seems an agility test taken from the Ercule's fatigues. The first door slams ferociously like the guillotine of an executioner suffering Parkinson's disease, on the second gate it is the ground to shake revealing the feeble connection between the cars could crack any moment, the third (and fortunately last) door is now guarded by uncovered electric wires that crackle and threaten misadventures any time a jerk on the rail make them contact. I put the right hand on my heart like indiana jones and I face also this last test getting eventually to the coveted car: a pall of tobacco already too burnt floats gently in midair wrapping up bystanders as a big global hug... Warm and oriental atmosphere, a chino-thai music tasting some how in between techno and chillout...

Anyhow trying to describe the sud east asiatic world with occidental categories is like attempting to eat an ice cream with a white-hot knife: from alphabet to architecture, from food to spiritual values, from clothes to popular habits, this part of the world indeed represents the Antipode, the absolute opposite pole of everything we are used to call “western”.

Traveling on such long train journey one of the things that i like most is to write, playing the bohemian novelist in his perfect creative set. I wrote to many friends of mine - letters are something we are shamefully missing – and here there are some excerpts from that letters:

“Right now I am on board a train going north, on the eastern part of the legendary route of Orient Express connecting Singapore all the way to London. I have always dreamed doing it...
I bet I am the only westerner on the train, surrounded by different people from all over Asia; they are loud, with skins variously tint from ivory white to dark brown horse-shit style, and it seems everyone speaks a different language only pretending to understand each others.

They eat super colorful and hell spicy food, exhaling pungent scents; when I try to investigate on the contents they answer in a kind of lingo that sounds like the possessed girl of Exorcist movie, something like an indo-anglo-asiatic slang of which I cannot get a word. Nonetheless they nod and smile all the way, even if we don't understand each other, have them say “no” is almost impossible.
I am starting now a stage of the trip that really excites me: in fact these part of the world represents a big black hole in my imagination. Of all the places I have been so far I knew something somehow, but not about Asia. I do not know a thing, and I don't even know what should I expect: it will be a great and continuous surprise!
I think this is the first place in the World where I feel like a complete stranger, a beast out of his niche: here what someone calls “our deep seated greek-roman roots” there is not even a shadow.
Last months spent in New Zealand and Australia have been great, but now I feel like ready to go back into the wild. I am a bit late on my schedule, as all the boats will leave Thailand before the second week of march, so I will not have much time to visit around here but it's fine. I hope I will find a good boat to reach sri-lanka, then Maldives and South Africa, to get back to the Mediterranean traveling overland along the east cost of the big black continent, where also my Grandfather lived.

I now recall the long summer afternoons listening his travel adventures in the black Africa, the joy in marveling one day I would have done the same things too: hunt in the vast meadows, seeking refreshment sleeping on the roof during the muggy summer nights, spend hours staring the sky full of stars till dawn came then leave for new and further unknown places, cook an egg for breakfast on the car hood made incandescent by the tropical sun.
Yes, I have done this and more, and what I've really learned is that it's all up to you.

2 commenti:

franco carlo ha detto...

Delitto sull'Orient Express low cost"Divertente!Mi aspettavo qualcosa del genere!Peccato che non avevi una cinepresa
anche se le descrizioni possono essere una buona stesura di copione cinematografico del film omonimo.Ma se lo scimmiotto
turbolento non avesse avuto il video game che lo inebetiva per lungo tempo quale mai diavoleria avrebbe potuto combinare
con un a madre inerte e servizievole come la sua che da solerte seguace Buddhista cercava di attuare i principi della
compassione e della non violenza.Però nella descrizione hai dimenticato due particolari:.1°,gli arancini di riso erano al
sugo? perche in caso affermativo il "protruding chin"al rosso-pomodoro sarebbe stato più esilarante-2° e tu in verità
come te la sei cavata con i "chopsticks"anche se senz'altro meglio dello scimmiotto?-Vedi nonostante la mia passione per
cultura giapponese e la mia collezione di "hashi"in giada,lacca,o legno di sandalo,tutte le volte che sono stato nei ristoranti orientali ho preteso banalissime forchette.E' più forte di me!Quanto alla avventura alla Indiana Jones tra le
letali porte tra un vagone e l'altro è l'esatta descrizione dei vagoni dei nostri treni nel primo dopoguerra.
Tutum,tutum---tutum.tutum-- tutum,tutum -altro che intercity!
Peccato che il tuo progetto delle maldive,dello shrilanka è naufragato ma soprattutto il risalire nell'interno dell'Africa
Quei cinque anni che ho vissuto in Etiopia con tuo nonno non li posso dimenticare, e la nostalgia è ancora viva.Savane sconfinate,baobab giganteschi,l'uovo di struzzo padella,branchi di scimmie e di gazzelle,qualche leone
appisolato,nuvole.. di mosche intorno agli occhi,avvvoltoi,jene insomma un giardino zoologico in piena libertà.Comunque
un fascino diverso dall'indonesia,meno variopinto ma certamente maestoso.In compenso ti aspetta la steppa mongola,
le yurte i cavallini mongoli, ecc.ecc.


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