Last Friday my train to Brussels made a premature halt in Aachen, just short of the Belgian border. We were asked to get into another train – a local one, kept ready for us – which, after a rattling journey reminiscent of train travel in India, deposited us at a small station, Welkenraedt. The platform – small, wet, cold – seemed to overflow with Brussels-bound passengers; there was a rush towards the departure charts, which revealed that our train to Brussels was half an hour away. With nothing else to do I sought out and began a conversation with a young man I had earlier heard speak in English to the conductor. He was Belgian, a software programmer just out of college, presently doing an internship at a company that created video games for products like X-Box and Playstation. I didn’t notice the next two hours go by, as we chatted about the gaming industry, software-development practices, the future of Belgian tennis, his home-town Gent, and other mundane matters of life beyond game programming.
I can imagine a life entirely on trains: waiting on platforms; journeying perpetually from one oddly-named station to another; reading uninterrupted for hours at a stretch; conversing with strangers; watching the countryside go by; laughing inwardly at the comic appearances of conductors – this is a universe one can inhabit, photograph and write about, for a whole lifetime.