Friday, October 21, 2005
Departing from a predictable path
A few days ago I took a Fletcher friend that nowadays works at Science Po in Paris to the station. Gare de Midi in Bruxelles, home of Thalis the gate to the hidden pleasures and pains of European travelling. I go there at least twice a week. Still it is the first time ever I thought about the station in itself as a destination. I discovered a small subculture of youth using its vast, almost clean and almost safe environment as a stage. They were dancing in the Thalis hall at the back of the station. They had so much fun and the groups dynamic was incredible. They needed no public and they had none. At least no permanent one. A constant flow of people, some barely noticing, some curious, streamed by.
I always loved trains and stations. There is a special feeling travelling the old fashion way. Compared to the sterile airport environment trains and train stations have a different feeling. They are also less isolationist then the highways with hundreds of people together and no contact. I associate this feeling with the time it takes to get to places when using the train. There is less rush even if you off and on see the usual people running desperately along the treks to catch their train. You do not have to be early (technically you do for the Eurostar going outside the Shengen zone to the UK ) and thus you ra rarely in a rush, it is in the city center and in most occasions the destination is also close to downtown. It is more urbane and classy and maybe even more democratic then the plane.
But all this is a diversion form my post's original idea. I add just a few random, grainy and flu pictures of the station and the people that inhabit it. I like the contrast between the travellers and the revellers. The walkers and the dancers. The purposeful and the relaxed. Go to the station and take no train.