TRAINS THAT PASS IN THE NIGHT

Sunday Times - - Artisan - © Faraaz Mo­hamed

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.

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