Turntable tales Nº 5

‘Counting nails and fractures’

Before the fence was erected, the other side of the crossing revealed an illegal use of railway land, a new phenomenon popping up in the Rose of the North: flee markets, second hand stuff, some streets on Sunday looks like a big garage sale. This smaller one did even so on a weekday and tried to get rid of things nobody really needed. For shore the entrepreneurs find another premise.
The endless patience of  traders, how desperate you have to be, the merchandise spread on a plaid on an unused track and wait, wait until someone buys a rusty screw. Economy is a strange thing but obviously it’s working otherwise no one would sit here with his junk on the yard and looking at trains only.
The fact of a Sunday street market became anyway part of Chiang Mai. Started on the busy Thapae Road towards the gate with the same name, soon it proofed to be a real hurdle for the traffic situation in that respect already plagued city. So it moved to a few streets within the old square where people cannot come a step forward along an endless row of fancy things on its worst in some cases called kitsch.
Back at the always-busy crossing with a special type of gates, on certain days there’s also a gathering of people who admire the feathered friends. Man showing their cocks, fighting roosters this time although a certain gender connotation is there. What’s the game to see the beasts slaughter each other others than gamble and feel a man indeed? Pity on them, for sure this is not my world.
One step away; the track going out of town. As a real – what the Germans called – ‘Streckenlaufer’, I like to inspect the rail till where it disappears beyond the horizon. ‘Schwellengänger’ is another word – him with the hammer of control walking from sleeper to sleeper. It sounds like an easy, sleepy, job but be not mistaken, wind and weather pays the toll.
The mainline on this side of the crossing is still accompanied by a few other tracks. The most far stretching one leads to another oil depot – Caltex this time – but it seems if the merchandise moved from rail to road or that they have stock enough to supply the pumps in the North. Long time no train seen on this transshipment track and that’s exactly what the rail shows; a thin layer of rust whereas it should shine metal white. Near the marker km 750 stands the only semaphore left. The arms mechanically moved, but instead like the past with iron wires, nowadays with electric power. This signal only for incoming trains as for whatever reason the platform tracks are not ready to receive a fresh load. It is a classic railway scene; the only wires left are those between the telegraph poles. In the far distance looms the station and foremost her tower. The only city skyline seen from this point of view and exactly underlining what I wrote before; it’s a city but still with village characteristics.

A train on the yard


About Robert von Hirschhorn

Author / Performer or in Dutch: schrijver / dichter
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