Thursday, June 05, 2008

6 - Fringes of the town

Tis evening. I lounge around the clean, almost-polished-looking lobby of the Youth Hostel. Most publications on display, tourist guides mainly, are in German. All else that is for sale, to my amazement, is out in the open and not in locked cases – chocolates, knives, souvenirs et al.

Two of my roommates are from Azerbaijan. I tentatively fish around for common ground, mentioning the three Azerbaijan-i men I know of. Before we know, we’re in excited conversation about the game. Gestures-with-swaying-arms, broken English and alien-words manage to come together to give all of us a general idea of what we talk about, even though we don’t quite get everything word-by-word. The 9pm summer sunlight slants down by our porthole-like-window, as we look out on the vacant, sleepy street.

**

I’ve borrowed one of the public-bicycles that are lent out for free by the city. I plan to cycle some way out of the city early on day 2, since I only need get out of Zurich by evening.

On the evening walk, I notice a wide, neat highway some way from the hostel, so am much reassured. Unfortunately, the youth hostel receptionist isn’t so sure – she tells me cyclists aren’t allowed on the highway. I give myself a ‘such-is-life’.

**

Still, when the morning arrives, I decide I’ll at least go see the highway and will loll around the railway station next to it. I deck the self up in formals-and-tie, having decided to get out of the city right after the said stroll.

**

When I’ve pushed the cycle up the incline, I reach the top of a small knoll. Down below are the plain-grey-sheets of the two empty railway platforms of Zurich Brunau. There are two halves of a highway that unroll themselves next to the station, split into smaller roads that go on to intertwine themselves into a series of flyovers that look like contorted octopi. The side of the hill facing the track has a bright splash of yellow across it. The hillside is smothered by yellow flowers that softly, gently move in the cool, sun-suffused morning breeze.

I wade my hands across the surface of the bowl at the base of a small fountain. The steely chill of the water vibrates across my hands. There’s the constant whizz of the highway cars in the background. The platform down below is vacant; the streets behind me atop the hillside aren’t awake either.

I steer the cycle onto the top of the railway overbridge. The pairs of metallic threads below me emerge from amid edifices, and swing outwards to curve around the side of the hill. I carry the bicycle downstairs, and cycle across the length of the platform.

There’s no one else on the platform. I sit down on a bench underneath an ad, with the cycle parked next to me. Around me is the steadiness of the highway and the stillness of the flame-hued, almost-alive hill; as the plain, bare tracks quietly snake past.

2 comments:

Gee said...

Oh, this is something I need to learn.
Those who matter insist they won't let me graduate from Davis unless I learn how to ride a bike.
Living in the biking capital of the country (perhaps the world?) has its quirks.

QKumar said...

Meh. You should, young Gee! Tis easy. And there're few joys comparable to coasting down a hill's incline. :-).