Turntable tales Nº 7

‘The lady rides a bike’

The pavement of a new road still looks like an unused blackboard and leaves Saraphi behind. A schoolmaster writes his name with a stick of chalk. ‘Teacher leaves us kids alone’. No idea why Pink Floyd should sing the song here.
Maybe it’s the countryside, so different from town, more Thai, although difficult to give an exact definition of that feeling. Peasants slowly riding their almost obsolete motorbikes till where they sow the seeds and reap. The harvest of a good season, the prosperity of their land, the perfect balance between to give an effort and unbend. The road ends near a railway crossing at km 740. Further down the track, still on the right side, work is in progress. A crossing with all sorts of ornaments; gates lowered by wire between two poles, small gates on wheels stored in a concrete gutter, bells and flashing lights, even a loudspeaker, things to prevent people from crossing when a train is approaching. Fast it goes on this stretch of the line, 105 km per hour is allowed for the diesel railcar.
The staff – lonely but not alone – decorated the whole with plants, so this place could count for the contest as well. Looking back: the skyline of Saraphi. No, this is not a joke. Beyond the entry signal a more or less factory high-rise gives the picture something urban. However, the crossing at a corner of the country together with a restaurant beside it and a few other buildings, functions like an oases in the dessert. ‘Here’s where it takes place.’

 Pa Sao – km 734 + 645 meter and 8.143 from Saraphi – also three tracks and one sidetrack. No electric signals but the good old semaphore include the iron wires and mechanical instrument to pull them. A perfect classic layout. The own styling of the station; the staff painted with light blue. There’s another sidetrack, a short dead end piece of rail with a half demolished buffer. Out of service.
Rusty rail are overgrown with weeds, rotten sleepers and a lock that never will release the track again from obstruction. Glory in decay! So are the buildings with a loading platform, the Thai tobacco leaf development Co. Ltd. Founded in 1955 says a sign at the front, anno 2011 it all went up in smoke.
An open shed – drive through – hides a weighbridge, reminder of the days things were shipped from here. A brilliant example of local facility after the shifting from rail to road. By the time the rail came here hardly anyone ever seen a car.
There were no paved roads, only dusty sand tracks with peaceful moving oxcarts. In the rainy season mud everywhere. Old women walked bare feet and looked worried or shy if they would have seen a stranger beside the rail making notes for a story. Like today, only the lady rides a worn-out bike and smiles when I joyful say: “Sawasdee khrap.” How are you, but no answer. She just wobbles over the track nothing would distract her, past times are still with here and didn’t merge with a modern society.   

Weighing less these days


About Robert von Hirschhorn

Author / Performer or in Dutch: schrijver / dichter
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