Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Traveling Tracks

I hold one ear piece up to check which side it fits and then place each in the appropriate ear, turn on the tiny switch at the base and thread the ipod-on-a-clip through my shirt clipping it onto the belt loop at top of my shorts. I press play and look up, it's a whole new world. I'm in a subway, it's Paris, there's a city of people I'm threading through, and they me, there are sounds of trains here and on other levels, people, clattering, footsteps, I can hear them all, but it's a little more distant now, the background sound to my opening credits with a sound track that changes tack every few minutes.

A woman stops and enters my movie. She has a casual Parisian elegance as she pauses, looks at the time and continues off at a faster pace. She's on her way to meet her lover and he's always on time. She wants to arrive just after him but needs a quiet graceful entry at the restaurant so she needs to make time to slow time. She disappears in the tunnel just as a young blonde tourist comes into view. He's standing at the platform dressed in khaki cargo shorts, a white t-shirt and a golden tan. He looks at the map a friend is holding and laughs confidently before turning it the right way around. This is not his first trip to Paris, and while now he speaks in accented English, his French is fluent and unaccented. A combination of an affluent education outside this country mixed with plenty of local exposure. He is staying in an apartment, that he shares with his brother, which has a slightly interrupted view of the eiffel tower. He secretly loves the strobe lights that flash on the hour every night all over it and tries to be in a position to see them without being noticed. He laughs again with his friend and his white teeth glow in the crowd, then the train comes to swallow him up, and he's gone. An older man replaces him. Dark grey hair and a few too many chocolate eclairs have filled out his dark blue shirt. He is standing on the train expressionless. Swaying irregularly in sync with the movement of the carriage. He's on his way home from work in the interior ministry. It's been a busy day, half of his staff away on leave has made it a tough week. He's looking forward to his own week off, just a few days away. He will visit his new grand daughter with his wife. She has been busy preparing meals for their daughter over the past week in preparation for their visit. He thinks of the fluffy little stuffed monkey he has bought for her, wrapped delicately inside his briefcase and a smile edges its way onto his face. The train starts to brake, his smile subsides and he picks up the case as the doors burst open and is flushed out with the crowd onto the platform.

I look down and feel for the button skip tracks, when I look back up, I'm in Athens. A baggage carousel is spewing mostly black but some splashes of red and blue suitcases to a tired looking crowd. A woman is standing in dark orange tights, something of a flamenco look blouse with hair that has been coloured and recoloured a thousand times and is now a mix of reds and blondes all frizzed on a bed of grey. Eye makeup has exploded onto her face, half of which is now blue, it seemed like a good idea when she woke early this morning for the pre-dawn flight here. She feels a little more awake than she did then, but her eyes have looked completely awake all day. She's returning home to Athens where she lives by the port. She had never travelled much until the cheaper airlines started to fly and her weekend in London with an old friend was lot of fun, but more expensive than she had planned. She will have to wait a few months for the next trip now. Work at the port isn't exactly well paying, but her son who lives in central Athens helps out when she needs. She is sure that his flat-mate is his lover but has never had the courage to ask. She invites them both whenever there is an event on just in case. A cute couple in their late 20's walk by pushing a trolley stacked with bags. A fuzz of blonde hair is trailing them on the body of a toddler who has been so out of control, they now have little energy left to chase him. He has run into the security lady, picked up an old baggage tag off the ground but just before putting it into his mouth found another distraction and is running off towards a dog emerging from a fellow passenger's hand carry on the floor. His parents laugh together recalling the man from the Hotel this morning who joked about their son "The Destroyer" as he called him. The dog now freed, the toddler runs laughing towards the carousel with those bags that look like a great challenge to climb.

Madonna's "Give it to me" bounds into the sound track and the rest of the movie is paused while a short film plays out in my head. This one's a real one, unlike the other ones I've concocted in my travels, so my imagination is less essential right now. It is another holiday experience though. The track ends and a new one begins, and so my journey continues.

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