November 2015, Sri Lanka
“Those carriages are from Romania,” said the little old man next to me. “They are fifty years old.”
I’d scooted over on the long station bench to make room when he shuffled by. He sat between me and a man on the other side, birdlike, ancient, watching with interest while I took pictures of the carriages. There was a long scar that ran from just under his jaw, into his shirt. I found out later that he survived the rail disaster of 2004. The coastal train line that runs from Colombo to Galle that I am so charmed by, is at utter mercy of the ocean.
“Where are you from?” he wanted to know. Singapore and Denmark, we said. He lit up at mention of the latter, bifocaled eyes magnifying the pleasure, eyebrows and ears lifting with the corners of his mouth. My father had beamed in that same way when amused by something.
“My sister lives in Copenhagen,” he said. “Wonderful country.”
He’d visited Copenhagen some time ago, and liked Danes very much.
He bid us goodbye when his train pulled into the station, was helped into a carriage by one of the crowd in it, and was gone.
All posts from Colombo here.