It's a small world, isn't it?
Just about a month ago I spent a day in Almere with Blogger pal Sandra, author of Presépio com Vista para o Canal. We had a fantastic time visiting a special photo exhibition and enjoying lunch together in the city centre which served to prove once more that Sandra is a fantastic host. I will soon post about this particular day in Almere more in detail, but today I wanted to share something that happened to me on my way back home.
After parting with Sandra I had just about enough time to catch my train to Amersfoort where I would take my second train back to my city - Zwolle. I took a bus in one of the new neighbourhoods just outside the Almere centrum hoping that I would make it in time to Almere Centrum, the train station.
Unfortunately, my haste made me get off one stop too soon and I had to run the remainder of the way to the train station. Totally out of breath, I climbed down the stairs to the platforms, looked for the right one, saw the train, double-checked that it was going in the right direction and happy but exhausted from the run, I jumped onto it - and just barely seconds before the conductor whistled and the train started to move.
The car I chose was almost empty so I began to relish the moment I would be able to sit down, cool down a bit and finally take out my book to read and enjoy the rest of the ride to my next destination. I chose a seat on the right-hand side but then I decided that the sun would be bothering me and I changed to the other side. Finally! I was sitting, I was opening my bag, I was taking out my book .... when something that was written on the window caught my eye. My hand froze halfway into my bag, still holding the book and my heart almost skipped a beat when I read the word: ARGENTINA!
All I could think right then was: "what are the odds?!" I took out the book, yes, but not so much to read it anymore as to create the perfect scenario for a photo - I had to share this moment! I took my camera too, and started clicking away while the train was leaving Almere behind and traversing the polder. I took a few shots of the highway we were just passing, the fields.... until I finally saw the right kind of landscape approaching fast: Argentina (the grafitti) and the Netherlands (the mill in the distance) in one single shot.
After the photo session was over, I kept thinking about this other Argentinean person: what had brought him/her here to the Netherlands: love, a holiday, a business trip? I somehow could not picture a serious businessman writing a grafitti on a train window ... so he or she had probably been a student at one of the Dutch universities...? How long ago had this person sat on this very same spot, on this same train?
Anyway, even if I don't condone this kind of creative writing on public transport, finding this grafitti served to keep me musing about being far from home, about being an expat in the Netherlands. When you are living the life of an expat you adapt, you change, you become one of them in many ways, without noticing it.You go through the motions of your new life day in, day out, until things like this silly grafitti makes you stop for a moment and ask yourself, "How did I end up here?", and also realise all of a sudden, "boy, am I far from home!"
If you are an expat too, have you ever had such moments? Or if you have moved from your original city to a new one in your country: do you ever stop to think how you never imagined you would be living in a totally different place at some point in your life? How does it feel for you?