Right after the first city in Estonia: “Wow, Europe is exactly how the Indians told me – everything is clean and nobody is there.”
Really, I was told that by Indians who visited Europe and was amuzed because the way Westerners describe the shock after getting off the plane in Delhi or Mumbai usually is “everything is mess and dirty and there are floods of people everywhere”. I remembered of their other side perception immediatelly after crossing the border – though I didn’t expect much of a sudden change when coming back slowly through Russia – where I saw road signes that actually did have influence over the drivers and the traffic, I saw no littering, I saw decent houses, I saw broad green empty landscapes between cities and I saw really only a few people walking the streets, a lot of space.
Then came the coldness, no one was really willing to help me. Hitchhiking was slow and people were looking at me suspiciously or in a fear, and I’m the freaking sun shine smiling traveller with a backpack! One that took me a bit told me: “You are very lucky with me, that I took you.” I didn’t ask why. Sun was coming down and my goal of getting to Poland in one day ended with not even leaving Estonia. (btw, did you guys know how close the land and the language is to Finland? I did not! I thought my impressions were influenced as I expected all the time to enter Europe through Finland and finally see the country of my beloved, but other people confirmed that as a fact. I didn’t know, I had seen the Baltic states in one post-soviet package. I’m sorry and thanks for the lesson.) So. I was there, the sun was not. “Can I please sleep in your barn, or elsewhere, any shelter, I’m a passing by traveller on a way home?” No. Yeah, it’s Europe, hospitality for a traveller is advocated by Christianity in the same way as other religions do, but people here are afraid of one another and content and happy in their privacy, in their, in their car. I get it, I understand it, I wouldn’t let a homeless person in my flat right now, I wouldn’t. But still. Why Asians can? Only the westernized of them would not. We are people. Helping people is good. I understand the reasoning why I wasn’t offered a shelter back in home Europe, I do, but isn’t it a contradiction of our declared morals and conducted actions? Maybe it’s not. Again, I think of myself as helping and yet would not let in the homeless person into my Prague’s flat where I’m sitting now writing my blog. We transfered the responsibility to a state, alright, we pay taxes and then we don’t have to talk to people on streets, alright. Is that how we go? Yes, I guess, I do, people around me do, that’s the social solidarity, one of the base pillars of Europe. But isn’t there something strange about it? Something to do with ‘we are people’? I’m quite confused about the text I have just produced, but I was not confused by the text I saw two days ago – I was walking across Prague to meet friend and I saw this election poster saying “Off with homeless and addicts”. Literally. I was really mad. I’m not a saviour of the poor but this made me go to a neighbouring paper shop to buy colored chalks (the background was white as the chalk I carry with me often) to write on the poster “Really? What do you want to do with them? Kill them? Or throw into a garbage?” when I noticed it was a social-democratic party. Freaking CSSD, s-o-c-i-a-l democrats. Few minutes later and few meters away I was painting on the pavement in a park. There were the cobblestones and I only painted three of them brown and green. Autumn you know. Police came and told me not to draw on stuff. That really took my breath away. I wasn’t fucking able to respond and let them go.
I got carried away. Where I was? Estonia. In the end I slept in the abandoned cottage. One could see it’s empty for years and curious people (neighbors) came in time ago only to go through the inventory and take away some valuable stuff and leave the rest in mess. The next night, in Latvia, a farmer let me sleep on a straw in his barn. My sweater was full of straw and I was happy for that.
Then I got a ride from a guy going to Germany. He was really kind and friendly and suddenly my way to Berlin was secured. I was going there, to meet the love I have left 6 months ago. I was not even that nervous, there was this powerful energy in the air. Suddenly the air was hot, the land was cracking, trees jumping and my arrival has come. I could not think of anything else all day. In the night we came to the German border and the driver and his friend in the other car wanted to take a short nap. It was 4am in the morning, last 150km and I didn’t feel like sleeping. I tried to hitch, it was a bit too much crazy but there was so much energy in me I didn’t feel the cold and wrote Berlin on the cardboard paper with a smile. Some young guys driving Jaguar to sell it in the West took me but left me on the highway south from Berlin. Now it was freaking cold, I was on the wrong side of the highway, but looking at the stars to find north just for the backup possibility of walking through the forest and night towards the city, no worry. So I walked across this gas station to see if there is any way how to cross the highway and get to the one one the other side when suddenly I saw hitchhikers! I bursted into the laughter. “The last thing I’d expect is more freaks hitchin at 5am!” They were not really smiling, they were freezing and hopeless. They told me they are going from Berlin. What?? “And you made it here, this bit, overnight?” I tried to encourage them and said I’m going the opposite way. “Then you have to run across the highway.” “I must not die tonight, on the doorstep,” and I disappeared in the forest, walked along the autobahn till the first bridge and walked back to that gas station. I bought a cup of tea for the price of my daily budget and started to ask people if they don’t happen to go to Berlin or elsewhere where train or bus is. No; I don’t have space; no; I’m going somewhere else; I don’t have space; I’m going to Poland;… I started to make strokes on the ground counting the answers types (see? i do carry chalks with me). “I don’t have space” won. Just when I was drawing a monkey on the asphalt and the sun was getting up, one driver agreed to take me. And where was he from? Iraq. He emmigrated from Kurdistan more than ten years ago. I was trying to remember some Kurdish I was learning few months ago when I visited those lands. Nice closing of the circle of the journey. I told him about demonstrations agains US. He told me we are stupid and how cruel Saddam was and how thankful he is to USA. He spent his emmigration in Germany, is now a German citizen, got a technical university degree and was going back home week later, to help rebuild his country and return home. These were his last days. I was returning home at that very moment, I told him I’m going to see the girl I love but left for the journey. He asked on what street does she live and gave me perfect directions right away. “I was working as a taxi driver on the start,” he explained.
I bought something for the breakfast. This is it. I’m there, on the street I imagined in Mongolian ger or Himalayas, ringing the bell I imagined from the train or from a desert. And there she comes, opens the door and we hug and I feel we still feel it. We go up but I don’t remember the floor, I remember the way she walks the stairs only. We talked something but I remember the timidness to kiss only. The flat was the most beautiful one. “I built the nest for us, ” she told me and I couldn’t believe I’m really there, that I have really returned and this is real. Physical body came but the mental luggage will arrive later. It was too much to believe I’m there for both of us, like if it was normal. On the third day she broke down in tears, couldn’t take this so normal so easy return with a smile like if nothing happened and there is no gap to span, and by this short cry made it more real and helped. Moreover, for the first time with my own eyes I saw how much I hurt her in the spring. There are things to buil and rebuild waiting for me here and the suitcase with my mind is still on the way.