donderdag 27 juni 2013

Dumplings

We had just taken our seats in the bus, when the driver collected her things and stood up.  She told the passengers that her shift ended and that the new driver would be there in a few minutes.
"We sure hope so!" most passengers shouted in her direction. She got off the bus and walked away with a big grin on her face. She was amused, but we were not, because we expected to sit in a motionless bus for some time.
After a few minutes a tall, bald and skinny man wearing green trousers and an orange shirt got up and stepped out of the bus to have a fag. He walked nervously alongside the bus a few times till his cigarette was smoked. He threw the butt on the floor and got on again.

He walked up to some people behind me and stayed on his feet next to them. He obviously wanted to start a conversation. Normally people will moan about the buses or the weather, but he had a different subject.
He ranted on about an exam he just did in college. I didn't expect that from a man in his fifties.
The last question really made him upset, he told us. "Everybody was complaining about that one! No way we could answer that!"
The people, an elderly couple and a lady with a zimmerframe reacted in a polite and understanding manner. Even gave him tips about making complaints.

                                                 Dumplings

But he was thinking about something else already.
"I have a great stew in the oven. It has been there all day and it has dumplings. I have really big dumplings!"
The couple looked at each other and didn't react, the lady grabbed the zimmerframe and placed it a bit nearer to her feet.
"Yes, really big dumplings!" And he looked at the women in the bus, one after another. But nobody reacted.
The new bus driver had arrived and the man took a seat.

After a long period of rearranging the driver's seat, mirrors, placing the money box on the door of the cabin and giving directions to passengers who really needed another bus, we drove away.
After a few stops the man with the coloured outfit left the bus and took a seat on a bench at the busstop. He lit a cigarette while we drove off and waved with a big smile at the lady with the zimmerframe. She didn't wave back, but his smile stayed on.
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zondag 2 juni 2013

A Holiday to Save a Marriage

Sometimes you can feel that people are looking or staring at you. I looked up from my plate and thought that my eyes met hers. Normally people will look down or watch in another direction when you meet their gaze, but this time it did not happen. Then I realised she was not looking at me, but staring at a point somewhere behind me. She was sitting motionless behind her empty plate while the man opposite her seemed to eat on. She was in her forties, blond, quite good looking and bored to death. At least it seemed so by the way she was yawning. He just ate on. Not a word was exchanged between them while I watched this scene.

She got up and walked away towards the food at the buffet and returned a bit later with a selection of the little desserts. These were very nice, just like everything else in this hotel. A while later he did the same and now I could see what kind of a man he was. He walked very upright and had a thick mustache without the drooping sides that can make the face of a man so sad. To me this man in his forties looked like a military. He sat down and the couple continued their wordless meal. I could not help making a remark about it to my wife. It's really sad when you don't have anything to say anymore to your partner.

When they finished they got up, they had to pass our table and the way he walked in our direction I would name manfully. But the way he grabbed her hand I would call desperate. She looked at him in an almost questioning manner but did accept the gesture. My wife saw what happened and came to the conclusion that these people were here to save their marriage. I felt for them: it's so hard to fight for something that you feel slipping your fingers as sand on the beach.

The next day I saw another couple coming to their table and discussing something with the man. The woman was hardly listening, I could see her stare away again. After a while the other couple left the dining room.
On one of the next days the woman was sitting on her own at the dining table. Only when she already was having her dessert her husband and the other couple showed up. The three spoke enthusiastic about something, maybe a trip they made together in the city or such? The woman seemed to listen with only half an ear. She had her chin in her hand and smiled politely. After the story was finished, she greeted and left the dining room so the man had to eat with the other couple.

The next time I saw them, they had an other wordless meal. The other couple showed up again and this time the woman left the dining room before the story of the couple was finished. Maybe she had to go to the toilet? She did not return, I noticed and the man had to finish his meal on his own.

And then I saw them in the lobby. There were very comfortable seats, settees and armchairs.
He was sitting on the settee while reading a newspaper, while she was sitting in an armchair while texting. In between them there were three suitcases, like a barrier that was impossible to breach. The holiday had ended.


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zaterdag 1 juni 2013

The Waterslide

Our resort in Turkey had a very nice lounge area. From there you had a good view on the sea a bit further away and on the swimming pool which was on the ground floor. The temperature was excellent and it was a joy to drink our Turkish coffee over there.

While we were sipping a freshly made one a woman in her fifties came walking in our direction, pulling along a handicapped boy. We had seen them before during dinner time. There was the father, a tall man in his fifties, maybe even sixties, with distinctive features. He must have been quite a man in his younger years, with his tattoos he looked like a retired sailor. His wife must have been equally attractive, her hair was still raven black and she had that mocca coloured skin that sunbathers try to get, but with her it came natural. She must have been a Spanish beauty in the past.

Their son was a very handsome boy of around twenty that suffered from being handicapped. I thought he was spastic, his walking was very difficult, just like his talking. But I thought that what he said, did make sense. There was nothing wrong with his mind.
The mother put him on a chair, put her bag on the floor next to her own chair and went inside to get a drink.
He clawed her bag towards him and started to search in it. I thought he might be searching for her, maybe his own phone. Some things fell on the floor and I picked them up and put them on their table. He mumbled something, probably thanked me.

She came back with two coffees, grabbed her bag and told him off while she put the things back in it.
In both coffees she put a sweetener and lit a cigarette. With the cigarette in her mouth she stirred the coffees.
The boy looked away to the sea and the pool. Once in a while he laughed, when somebody went from the slide and landed in the water.



"I would love to go on that slide", he said very clear.
She pushed her cigarette abruptly in the ashtray and said in a sharp tone: "That's only meant for healthy people." Her lips changed into a thin red line.

The boy looked away beyond the horizon, I could sense so well that this hurt him. He didn't say a word anymore. She drank her coffee and pushed his a bit further in his direction. "Don't let it get cold."
Without a word he took the cup with two hands that looked misformed by the way he held them out. When he had them on his lap, they seemed to be quite normal. In two gulps the coffee was gone and he put the cup carefully back on the saucer.

The father came from the other side of the pool, with the boy's walking stick that had a tripod as a base in his hands. On the tripod rested two armbands for the pool. "Can we go?" he asked.
She nodded and took her bag from the floor.
The boy wanted to take his walking stick, but the father just passed it on to his other hand and stretched his arm out. The boy got up, sighed and took the hand of his father. While he was dragged from the lounge area he had one last look at the slides.
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