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Travelogue B6

November 12, 2014

A good deal of our time is spent aboard the trains of the Polish rail system, to-ing and fro-ing. The car interiors seem iterations on a single formula so that a train from Krakow to Katowice looks much like that from Wieliczka to Krakow. I committed to memory one such interior, riding from Oświęcim to Krakow.

My seat protrudes from light wood panelling. A small grey trash container in some sort of metal is fixed, just beneath a small wooden ledge, to the wall. The ledge serves little purpose as a writing surface, being only two handspans in width. Indeed, its surface is of the same light color as the panelling but betrays a greenish tint in the winter sunlight coming in through the window. Around the windows, corners, and edges, flathead screws pin the metallic trim to the panelling.

The seats are hard and unyielding and are composed of three parts or perhaps four. A single piece forms the seat and back to which is attached a headrest and backrest. A narrow empty space lies between the headrest and backrest. A fake red velvet that does nothing to cushion the metal frame covers the seat portion. On other trains, this is replaced by orange plastic or sage vinyl or red cushioning. A heater burns fiercely beneath the seat.

A dull brown luggage rack juts overhead from the wall. I noted that its paint is chipping here and there. It stands out against the off-white ceiling and its two long rows of lights, slender fluorescent tubes.

Old bores in the wood panelling were formerly the home of screws, which themselves supported some now inscrutable device. Or perhaps the device itself is not inscrutable but rather its purpose. Regardless the bores are of varying gauges, but all tunnel through the panelling into some unknown. I craned my neck a little to examine one but learned no more. I returned to my reading of Thomas Browne, indeed, to his remark that “sense endureth no extremities, and sorrows destroy us or themselves.”

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