Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Canada I - Trains, Pains and Automobiles

"And so she came and told me that people were going around staying she was showing off by dressing up for church. And I told her not to worry. She wasn't showing off, she's just... German."
The Canadian couple nod sagely. Her husband closes his eyes like he's heard this one before.
"I mean, that's just what they're like isn't it? Elegant, I mean. That's how they always seem to me. Very elegant. It's just their way."
When no-one jumps in to agree, she digs her husband in the ribs. "Isn't that what you found dear. When you lived over there?"
Turns out husband is an army brat, like me. Perhaps he too remembers an elegant nation with trousers swinging up over ankles; a country with excellent environmental policies and a communal reverence for C&A's polyester delights.

Husband takes the opportunity to change the subject.
"Yeah everything worked so great over there. You should see the trains..."
Canadian husband hears his cue and rises out of his seat in his eagerness to deliver his lines.
"Actually me and my father had the opportunity to travel there ourselves. We had the very great good fortune to ride all the trains there. He's a bit of a train enthusiast, my father. We took the local trains, the inner-city trains and the expresses..."
American husband lets out a bellyfull of breath. "Phew. They blow me away those expresses."
"Yeah, I can't remember the exact translation equation, but they were going 200, 300 miles an hour. Saw the whole country that way. Must be ten years ago now."
"How do you even see when you're going that fast?" American wife churps up. "Wasn't it all a blur?"
"Nah... you just focus on something..." he founders.
They all look out of the window. So do I. We're coming up to the border, chugging through one of the no-horse towns that the tracks cleave in half.

The journey from New York to Montreal is scheduled to take a little under twelve hours. On the way up we arrive three hours late. By car, the journey is rumoured to take six hours. Lucky it's so beautiful, and lucky we know so many card games.

The seats in front have started talking again about Times Square and how to navigate the subway and don't seem to notice when our train gets overtaken by a boy on a bicycle. I watch him gain on us, draw level and then peddle off towards the horizon. He never even breaks into a sweat.

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