TRAINS THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT
FARAAZ MOHAMED open space comfortable. I ask him what it’s like for him to be an American travelling abroad these days, and he shrugs.
“I have been in eight countries in the past 12 days. I go from office to hotel to train to airport. It’s just business,” he says.
He looks outside at the pastures and hayrolls. I am watching him watch the landscape as he asks me what we, the “rest of the world”, think about “this clown”.
I tell him people are scared, worried, disillusioned.
“I’m a Republican,” he says. “But I think Trump is a lunatic, I hope he gets impeached, but it makes no difference if the government won’t listen.”
I ask him if, at exactly twice my age, he thinks this is the worst it’s been.
“I was born in Israel,” he replies. “There is no best or worst. Just one loud man after the next.”
In the distance, the medieval city of Carcassonne comes into view, a majestic grey fortress towering above a small town whose pinkish red rooftops are nestled amid a blanket of pine trees and farmland.
He asks me about South Africa. There are no abbreviations, no swear words, no tenor. Just a stream of earnest statements and questions.
Days later, I wander through the medieval lanes of La Cité du Carcassonne. I walk the perimeter of the old city, stopping occasionally to peer into the gardens of the families that still live within its walls.
I see a train speed by and think of Victor. I think about his almost smile when he talked about lasers and the colours. I can hear him say it, in that mild, pendulous measure: “As it happens, the human eye can actually see seven million colours.”
LDo you have a funny or quirky story about your travels? Send 600 words to travel[email protected]daytimes.co.za and include a recent photograph of yourself for publication with the column.