Edit Blog Post
Published: November 30th 2005
After a most wonderful night sleep in Warsaw, I had breakfeast with the Ambassador and his wife, overlooking the garden and then prepared to go to the station to get my train to Moscow (going through Minsk). As I went down, something happened to me which most horrible people fear with great apprehension: having to meet again face to face the people I traumatised in Warsaw during my turbulent youth. I met again (with great pleasure) our old driver Marek who used to take me to school, for walks in the park and generally take care of me when my parents wanted some peace and quiet. He had not changed one bit, still the same old Marek. After a few emotional moments and a long hug, I apologized to him for my past misbehaviour and he gave me a most wonderful answer: "Well, at least you weren't like a typical ambassadors' son who are normally well behaved, you kept us busy". How very diplomatic. I guess time heals wounds. I also had the pleasure of seeing Dimska, the receptionist, and Mr Jean, another one of those great people who suffered dearly at my hands. It was a very emotional moment, if
all too brief, reminising upon the past years. Marek was then kind enough to drive me to the train station, alas, to the wrong one. We made it at the right station by a thread: I had 10 seconds to spare and rarely saw such good rally driving skills as those demonstrated by Marek. He drove from one side of the city to the other in 10 minutes flat. Marek bid me a wonderful goodbye on the station running alongside the train and wishing me all sorts of good fortunes. I really was surrounded by such good and kind people who are hard to come by. I again want to thank all the staff at the embassy, the ambassador and his wife as well as Dimska, Marek, Mr Jean, Eva, Leokadia and everyone else who took such good care of me while there.
The train was a very luxurious affair (for a train, that is). I was in first class, had a compartment all to myself with wardrobe, washbassin, chair and bed. There were two extra beds in the compartment but they were folded away. Once I settled down, I went to look for some life on board and,
more importantly, food. To my greatest of disappointment, I found no food as the restaurant car was joining us in Minsk but the controller greatly offered (for a financial contribution) vodka and russian chocolate. I declined politely and resumed my search for life.
I found, in the way of life, two matriochkas (russian dolls) of a bygone age. They were slightly more elderly then they wanted to appear and I watched with great delight their dolling up, which consisted of a number of carefully delimited phases, the first of which was applying vasts amount of make-up to be followed by an energetical debate concerning the make up only for it to be washed off and tried again. There was then the spraying of the hair as well as the colouring (of no less then three matching coulours, one of which was pink). This was suitably followed by the dressing stage with bizarre but colourful and nearly joyful combinations, most of it sparkly and shining. This was yet again followed by another debate which resulted in the further swaping of clothes and handbags with the other lady in question. Each stage is differentiated by a quick smoke and flirt with
the overweight, sweaty but happy controller. All but three hours later, my charming ladies were a shining beacon to all that is vulgar. This coincided nicely with our arrival at the border to Bielorussia. My wagon was invaded by about 15 border guards, all heavily armed, sporting oversized peaked caps and charming, welcoming smiles. They begged for my passport in the most charming and polite of ways and then proceeded to disapear with it in the dark abyss of the hut. My two charming companions trotted along behind them, stubbing out a last fag before they entered the hut. An hour later (I remained in the train), the guards made a brief reapearance, as ever followed by the two dolls, returned my documents and bid me farewell.
There is always a slight tinge of excitement as one crosses international borders and have to show passports. Even though I was entirely in order, there is always a risk that the border guards had a bad day or want to supplement their salary by entertaining their foreign guests further then the said guests might desire. I always breathe a sigh of relief as my passport is returned and I am allowed
Shortly after that we arrived in Brest, where I was highly entertained in watching the two ladies jumping off the train before reaching the platform and attempting to run off in the opposite direction (god only knows why). This operation being, of course, performed in high heels. I was greeted at the station by a horde of babouchkas offering me strawberries, dried fish, cucumbers and all sorts of other delicacies. I bought three kilograms of strawberries. Sadly no cream nor Pimms Number 1 to be found.
The train moved into a hangar and I proceeded to watch them lift the train, so that they may change the spacing of the tracks to fit the Bielorussian tracks. An admirable operation ,smoothly done with the help of cranes and other bits of noisy machinery. A few hair raising hours later, the train was yet again on its way, sadly without the reapearance of the dolls.
I felt hard hit by the loss of the sole entertainment on board and went in search of further companions. I went up and down most of the 10 wagons of the train, only to realise that as far as I could tell
I was the sole passenger of the train. There was a driver, 3 controllers, all happily drinking vodka with the driver. I promptly returned to my compartment and locked all doors, one never knows. It is a very bizarre feeling to find yourself in the middle of Bielorussia on a phantom train. I consoled myself by having a strawberry linked indigestion.
We aproached Minsk in the early evening, the city, for all that I could see, was a truly ugly one and had few redeeming features. There was a strong military presence on the platforms, so I did not make myself too obvious.
Will someone join me on the phantom train?
We quickly lerft Minsk to carry on further towards Moscow. I settled down to a quiet evening of intellectual pursuits such as reading and reflection.
At 23:00 came what I feared most: a knock, a powerful strong knock on my door. I walked calmly to the door and opened with the most stupid and innocent smile I could muster to be greeted by yet another double act of blond ladies with a couple of bottles of vodka. They told me in no uncertain terms that I was to drink with them. I followed politely to the restaurant wagon (which had joined us in Minsk) and was hounoured to meet the Babouchka in charge of such a fine establishement. I didn't quite catch her name, as I was concentrating on the rather large moustache she was proudly sporting.
2 bottles of vodka later, I was having visions of the train taking off to outer space, to a place where all women wore moustaches as an elegant sexy attire. At this point, I decided to call it a night and headed off (to the greatest dissapointment of my company) back to my compartment where I slept soundly (with a few very bizzare dreams) until Moscow.
Tot: 0.061s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 11; qc: 62; dbt: 0.0131s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb