They say that if you really want to, you can just pack one day and leave. Any voyage is unique, they say. It’s something which you should do now, at this age, otherwise you might never get a second chance. It’s something that you were given the chance to do, while others were not that lucky. A chance is still a compromise. It’s not a gift, as long as it comes with a now or never.
It’s fabulous. It’s new, it’s extravagant! We’re the center of attention and the violence around us takes human shape.
It all slows down around us, moving in slow motion as we keep running, with our velvety hearts hidden inside a tin carcass pulsating on the rhythm of drums, almost like growing bigger and bigger, ready to push out of our chests. We melt a little each day, and we shyly flicker like the winter’s sun, trembling like a ship who just survived a storm at sea, like a tree blooming after a hard cold winter, small, frail buds on every branch bravely opening one after another, exposing its soul to a yet weak sun.
The line of the heart has been drawn a long time ago: Bucuresti -Tokyo.
I was standing, reading Murakami’s ” A wild Sheep Chase” while waiting for my train in of one of Bucharest’s busiest subway stations. Just your average Wednesday morning, on my way to work. When finally the train enters the station with a considerable 10 minutes delay, i close my book and say to myself: This would never happen in Tokyo! The people impatiently crowd the train carts and take their seats. I decide to stand as i knew i was heading towards a comfortable 8 hours seating position anyway. I look at the people around me: most wearing office attire and sipping on their Starbucks cups. Ah, the placebo effect works wonders still. There’s little or no coffee at all in a large Starbucks mocha-latte! As i dream about the espresso machine at work, my distributive attention sensors automatically activate. i reopen my book while ease-dropping at the conversations around me: evil boss, evil colleagues, evil computer, evil shoes, and one conversation in English going something like this: ” Listen Bro, just relax, i will let you know shortly. They do not have the final date yet.”
All of a sudden, the announcer’s voice in the speakers asks all passengers to step out at the fist interchange and wait for the next train arriving at the same platform.
I close my book again and as soon as the train stops I step out. The train guard quickly cleared the carts pushing out those who were wearing headphones during the announcement. “ Train is broken ! get off and wait for the next one !” he kept on shouting.
I look behind me in the train: A fairly confused person wearing sports equipment and a training bag was standing and mumbling something in English. Get off ! the guard said almost grabbing his arm. He seemed scared and tried to dial his phone.
Dude, English…! I say to myself and step in to clarify. I stare at the guard in disapproval and move in between him and the passenger.
“-Sir, this way. It’s ok. This train is broken and is going to the Depo.
“Oh, but I need to go to Piaza University. I am meeting a team there. How do I go there?”
“Just wait for the next train here. Same platform. I say trying to calm him down and make this look like a normal, everyday, big city situation.
He then reluctantly steps on the platform and dials his phone. “ I am stuck in Piaza Victory . I will be late but do not move . Stay there. I will be there in…
“Miss, excuse me he asks in a soft voice . How long till the next train ? “
“ it should not be more than 10-15 min late”; I say as if I actually had a clue or as if 15 min really did not matter much. The guy gets back on the mobile and communicates the details: “ I will be 15 min late. Stay there and do not part from the group.!”
He seemed awfully distressed but I thought maybe all indian people are like that. I reopen my book and start reading: My character was starting his way up the mountain on foot.
“Miss, thank you very much .” I hear the lost indian’s voice next to me.
“ I am Masoud Ibrahim martial arts referee, I am visiting here for a tournament and the kids are waiting for me at Piaza University. I cannot leave them outside the hotel for long unsupervised. I should not have left them cos’ now they are outside alone with one adult only and most of they are 14-19years old. I just went to see a little the Arc de triomphe to see if it’s the same as the one in Paris.”
“And is it? I ask. “I mean , I’ve never been to France so I wouldn’t really know.
He finally relaxes a little bit and answers with a sigh:” Similar , but you should see for yourself ! Go to Paris. It really is beautiful.
“Maybe one day, I reply, but in the meanwhile I might get better chances to see Tokyo . You see, I am moving to Asia in 2 months.
“ Where ? he asks swiftly . I am Pakistani you see , not indian but Pakistani. I travel a lot with my work and I know Asia very well.
I smile, mainly because I felt stupid for assuming he was indian. “ I will live in Singapore with my husband. ”I quickly add.
“Singapore is awesome! You will like it. It’s very clean and new. My brother lived there a few years . He is a writer. Now quite successful and lives in Japan. Look him up. You find the book on Amazon. He gives me the name and I write it in my old Nokia note section.
“I can see you like books and you might like his also. He adds looking at the book I was holding. What are you reading ?”
“ Murakami . “ I answer as the train gloriously enters the station.
We got on board and I told him :” Don’t worry much about the group . They should be fine. It’s the city center and nobody can harm them in broad daylight.
“ Oh , I am not worried about that .They are martial artists ! He proudly affirmed. But they are kids and full of energy and tend to wonder around… I feared they would get lost.” He said with a smile.
“This is your stop ! I say as the train announces loudly : Universitate!
I was not able to hear all he said next but the last few words before he shook my hand and went out the train doors were: “You have a beautiful heart and that shows in the way you speak also. I wish you happiness and thank you for your kindness. Murakami is strange but also try to read Moshin Hamid “
Ffwd 4 years to 2016 : Murakami is strange. I have not yet seen Tokyo and failed to see Paris but Moshin Hamid is …

* Pakistani name used is fiction. Name in my phone was not. None the less i lost the information and trying to find it is like trying to Find Kafka on the Japanese shore.