Stations and Trains

Sometimes, no, many times, I like to escape into my own mind, into the magic of my imagination. Here I dream of stories, some of people around me, some of me, some of characters completely made up. Many things trigger it, nothing in particular, but many things can take me from the traffic of Manila to Pencey Prep. I try to write them sometimes. Most of the time they file themselves in my hippocampus. I think that’s where it is.

Here’s one inspired by all the trains I’ve been taking.
Stations and Trains
Amsterdam, Holland
I thought she was his daughter. She was just short. Really short. But when he leaned over to kiss her, she on her tiptoes, there was no mistaking they were lovers. I looked around me, and it seemed my eyes only saw the goodbyes. Fathers waving away, flying kisses from a wife, handshakes with partners, tight embraces, and the audible I love yous and thank yous, we’re all saying goodbye in our own way. Maybe because, in our own way, we’re all leaving. Leaving yesterday, leaving our youth, leaving people, leaving anything – leaving everything. We’re leaving pieces of ourselves behind, little pieces, until ultimately, we leave it all.Soon, just like me, after all the goodbyes, they will board trains to who knows where. They will sit in chairs, first class, second class, it doesn’t really matter. It’s not so much the seat that matters. It’s the train that counts. For those who’ve left someone behind, they will stare out the window, at the fields and trees, at the sky, and on night trains, the stars. In everything they will see the faces, the faces of those already missed. I look out the window, and see fields, trees, and sky.

The man sitting across the aisle is looking out on his side. The side of his forehead is leaning on the glass and his chin rests on his fingers. I wonder what he sees. I wonder who she is. I look out my window again. I see graffiti. It’s mostly either one of the following: someone’s angry, someone’s insecure, someone’s irresponsible, someone needs to shout something he can’t tell people, and also very common, another someone’s ill-fated attempt at romance. One of them keeps spraying “PUBIS”. I doubt he or she knows what it means. If I were him, I’d pick another name. Something not so nether regionish.

Through the cracks of the seats in front of me is an old couple. They’re sitting on chairs facing the other way. I know they’re old because they look old. White hair, wrinkles in the right places, and an aura of contentment only people with pure hearts have. Logically I’d say their best years have passed them. Seems someone forgot to tell them. They’re both pointing at things outside the window, pointing to things they want the other to see. Very sweet. I try to look behind me, to where they seem to be pointing. I don’t see anything, nothing other than fields, trees, and sky. Maybe they’re imagining things. Maybe their senile. Maybe I missed it. Maybe I’m blind.

I close my eyes, to begin what was my childhood’s favourite pastime. I close my eyes to dream. In my dream I’m in a train, first class, headed towards the sun. In my dream I look out the window, and I see it. In the light of the sun I see it. With my nose and finger tips greasing the glass, I stare. I do not even blink.

Building to Last

I’m on the train to Frankfurt, Germany from Switzerland with Kurt, my export partner for Issho Genki Squalene and other upcoming products. (He’s in his 70s but still keeps a very robust lifestyle dividing his time between areas around the world.) The train system across most of Europe is incredibly convenient, and with my Eurail Global Pass, I can go to any Schengen country, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain among others, at no extra cost. I was chatting earlier with my older brother, Joseph, about getting these passes and coming back with some friends later on this year as I may have t be back for our group’s small summit.

At Frankfurt we will be staying at the Hotel Monopol, which is conveniently located across the station. It is a small hotel in quite an old building dating back to the early 1900s. One of the beauties of Europe is its history, and the old architecture is quite amazing. It’s even more amazing when you consider that a lot of these structures were formed without modern construction materials and technology and yet here they are still standing more than a hundred years later, having gone through wars and all sorts of weather. We don’t build like this anymore. Nowadays, we’d rather build fast and cheap, tear down when it’s old and build a new one if we have to – once more, fast and cheap.

More and more my appreciation for stability and sustainability grows. Sometimes, let me blame it on my youthful stupidity and impatience, I value the adventure and the novelty of situations over wisdom and long-term implications. I’ve realized that taking the pains to build the proper way, with strong foundations, solid materials, and the right practices is far more rewarding in the long-run than temporary highs. I’ve realized that building to last does not mean sacrificing the joys of the present, but rather, it means laying a structure to extend these joys into the future and into the lives of others.

But while I don’t believe life’s joys should be sacrificed, building properly will definitely cost us. It will mean giving up a certain degree of comfort. It will also mean a certain economic cost as we spend on better training, better materials, and upgrading. It will cost us our destructive habits. It will cost us our unaligned ambitions. It will cost all I have listed above and more. Quarrying stone is much more difficult (and more expensive) than mixing cement, but stone will last longer.

Sometimes I hear a voice telling me, “Stop trying to become better. You’re missing the fun.” I’m grateful that the builders of the past never listened to her.

The Simple Things


I woke up very early on this cold March morning. It’s freezing here in Kloten, Switzerland. I’m suppose to visit Luzern later on today, but the weather doesn’t seem to be cooperating.