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Night on earth
Dear readers, this week I didn’t have time to write a new post because I was getting ready for my next assignment (more on that at the end of this story). Among other things, yesterday morning I had to get up at 5:00 in order to reach my destination at 9:30. Then, while on the train, surrounded by my fellow sleeping passengers, I suddenly remembered a piece I had written in December 2020 for my old blog about a similar early-morning outing, and here it is. It’s short and atmospheric, and I hope you like it.
It's like stepping into a parallel universe.
You do the same things you do more or less every day - you get up, wash your face, have breakfast, and head to the station - but everything feels a little different, as if you are doing those things for the first time.
You move in the semi-dark, afraid of waking up your family; your breakfast consists of a grand total of two cookies because at 4:00 a.m. your stomach is still asleep and you don't want to wake it up either.
Then you step outside, and it's still dark as if it was midnight, and everything is still and calm, like frozen in time... apart from the distant noise of the newspaper delivery boy on its rickety scooter.
When you take your first steps, you feel like Neil Armstrong walking on the moon. You look up at the sky and it's there, pale and reassuring.
The sidewalks are empty and you try to move through the streets as noiselessly as possible. Then your reverie is interrupted by a tourist bus, of all things, so incongruous and out of place at this time of the day.
You have never seen such a pachyderm in your neighborhood. To add mystery to the already surreal situation, it's completely dark inside, and glides past you like a whale coming out of nowhere, deep underwater.
At last you reach the station. You emerge from the escalator and again, a completely empty hall welcomes you.
You pause for a moment to take it all in. Breathe deeply. Check your pulse.
I've never seen my station so empty. Three different train lines meet here, which means there's always someone covering the few meters between one ticket gate and another.
Of course, the reverie only lasts a few seconds. People are coming, sleepwalking like me. Time to go.
Funny how looking at familiar places under unusual circumstances turns them into something different. Have you ever had a similar experience?
Yesterday, by the way, I traveled to Ibaraki Prefecture, north of Tokyo. It’s not very far from where I live, but to reach my destination (Kasumigaura, Japan’s second-largest lake) you have to change trains three times. It takes between 3.5 and 4 hours one way. In other words, yesterday’s roundtrip was equivalent to flying from Tokyo to New Delhi or Honolulu.
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