Reykjavik Airport. Iceland.
“Hello. Please do you mind not taking off yet? I need to find someone. We came to the airport together, and I need to be sure he is on the plane.”
The air hostess stares at me. I stare back.
I elucidate some more.
“We were sitting together at the boarding gate. I quickly went to get something and by the time I got back everyone was already getting on the plane and I couldn’t find him.”
At some point she gets a clearer picture of my situation and nods in comprehension. She speaks to some other hostesses in what I assume to be Icelandic.
I remember trying to come up with some sort of a rudimentary understanding of the language after a few minutes at the airport. I was studying a large signboard that was placed over the booth of the officer who stamped our passports. I felt like I was beginning to make out a pattern in the sentences- a pattern with the structure of the verbs and their conjugation. Something like that.
I think someone passes a message to the pilot not to begin the takeoff procedure yet.
She gets a hold of the microphone.
“What’s his name please?”
I tell her.
“Hello Mister Soso and So, you have a friend who is looking for you. He wants to know if you boarded the plane successfully. He wants to know if you’re here. Please indicate if you can hear me. Hello?”
We look around the plane. It is a relatively small plane. My Indian classmate and I booked the cheapest flight to Germany we could find from San Francisco.
We keep looking.
I see a hand go up in the air a few rows down.
“Ah haha. There he is! There he is!”
“Haha great! I wave and smile. He successfully got on the plane.
Thank you very very much!”
I make sure to profusely express my appreciation.
I walk back to my seat, half-wondering why I momentarily delayed the plane’s takeoff to check on the welfare of someone who evidently did not care if I successfully boarded the plane or not.
A few minutes of Google Mapping over the airport Wifi, and I realise I need to get to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof. That’s like “Frankfurt Central Train Station” or something like that.
I head towards the subway.
One of the first things I become aware of after landing in Germany is how much taller the people around me seem to be.
The first two people I talk to are a guy and a lady I believe is his girlfriend. I ask for some directions. They are both smiling and they seem happy to talk to me.
They are both in about the same height range as I am.
“Christ, it feels like everyone is taller in this place.”
It’s a strange feeling. It makes the air feels a bit more choked.
I do not have money to use the subway. I begin to interact with a guy close by. He seems confused. His confusion has something to do with the ticket vending machine. Something about the language and what ticket would take you to the Hauptbahnhof.
We begin to think and talk, trying to figure it out. Eventually we do. I ask if he would not mind buying me a ticket. He doesn’t mind. We head into the subway.
I’m in a hostel. Well I’m not really in the hostel because I am not checked in. I’m at the reception. I learnt about hostels from an Israeli friend I met in San Francisco.
“Oh waitt, so they’re like hotels but less expensive? Ahhhh. I did not know there was a thing like that.”
It was an interesting day when I learnt about hostels from the very cool Israeli guy.
I am sitting at my computer and reloading my account balance page on my banking portal.
“Fuck, we were supposed to be paid like a few days ago. What sort of undeserved brokeness is this?”
I keep reloading.
The lady with really interesting blue eyes at the reception begins to pass snide looks at me from across the room.
“Yes I know I know. I’ve just been sitting down here and drinking your internet and I’ve still not paid for a room. Yes I know thank you very much, just wait till this money hits my account. It’s coming all the way from the US. It’s probably about halfway across the Atlantic at this point, don’t worry.”
I log on to Netflix. Their internet is good. There is no cash at hand, but there is an existing Netflix subscription. Life isn’t completely terrible.
I am skateboarding around Frankfurt. It seems like a cool place. Some of the roads look strange. Right in front of the hostel it looks like the sidewalks are much wider than the actual road. A few minutes down the road, the sidewalk and the main road are exactly the same thing- completely indistinguishable. The road is the sidewalk, and the sidewalk is the road.
I keep skateboarding.
I stop at an ice cream shop, and get myself some ice cream. I’m giddy from all of the skating adrenaline. I’m giggling as I collect my ice cream. The lady selling has an amused smile on her face.
“Haha, thank you very much.”
My money finally arrived in Frankfurt after its sustained journey over the Atlantic.
I keep skateboarding.
I am at a really picturesque lake. I take the time to lie down in the grass and enjoy the warm sunlight. I would have taken pictures but it seems I lost my phone on the way to Frankfurt. I’m not quite sure where.
Ugh. And it was a new iPhone.
I am about to get a train to Berlin. I’m chomping down on a pack of Dunkin Donuts. Each donut has a different flavoured topping. I pick three and take a bite from each one. One after the other. And I keep going round. My mouth tastes like rainbows and good music.
The roof of the train station is largely transparent, and so it lets a lot of sunlight in. The station is airy and bright and smells of fresh coffee and trains and railway metal.
Someone is using my skateboard. Some guy. He is wearing a white T-shirt, jeans and a cool looking beanie.
He effortlessly does a pop-shuvit. Spins the board around 180 degrees with his back foot. Okay this guy can use my skateboard for as long as he wants.
I introduce myself. We begin to talk.
We get on the train. He tells me he is from a small village in the south-western end of the country. Close to the border with France. He says the name means “Water under the bridge”. I think it sounds cool.
I offer him some Dunkin Donuts. He says he’s fine thank you. At the back of my mind I wonder how anyone could refuse these brightly-coloured, extremely cheerful donuts.
We keep talking as the train cruises through the beautiful green plains that stretch out into the horizon.
Somewhere in Germany.
I was on the wrong train. Right now I am about 50 miles in the opposite direction. I’m with my pack of now almost depleted Dunking Donuts, my skateboard and my backpack.
The German skateboarder is beside me. We’re talking with the train operator. Working on how to resolve the issue. He gives us directions. It turns out I do not have to pay any extra money. Good to hear. The train operator has this tired and disapproving look on his face throughout. I think it’s supposed to make me feel bad about having gotten on the wrong train. I don’t really care. Maybe he just needs some Dunkin Donuts to spice up his life.
I get off the train. I part with the skateboarder after adding him up on Facebook.
I ask for directions from another officer at the train station. So I can double-check the information accessible to me. I need to get on the right train this time.
It was a beautiful train ride. Thoroughly enjoyable. I pull my big red travelling box behind me as I step out of the subway at Waschauer Strasse.
Time to locate my new apartment.