Tuesday, February 14, 2006

So Close and Yet So Far

So I went to Tisovec to visit the other Americans for the weekend. It was a blast and especially nice to speak some higher level English (as always). I stayed at Lizzie B's and we had a grand ol' time watching movies, dancing, and causing general mayhem. On Sunday I had a nice 10-hour train trip to look forward to and, you know, the trip would only take 5 hours if I had a car. Bygones.

Anywho, my trip went surprisingly well and I wasn't even all that sick of sitting on a train by the time I got to Keleti (main station in Budapest). Can you picture it? It's the last leg of my too-long journey. It's 7:30 p.m. I had originally planned on dropping by Mickey D's for some dinner once I got to BP, but my train was late so all I had time for was a bite of my chocolate-covered trail mix-esque candy bar that David Fiala gave me (by the way, thanks David...it's delicious). I'm now sitting on the train to Sopron ready for take off. My seat back and tray table are in their upright and locked positions when suddenly, something strange happens. An Hungarian policeman walks through the train and makes a cryptic announcement (actually, it was probably pretty straight-forward but to a non-Hungarian speaker such as myself it seemed a little cryptic). Everyone starts filing off the train at a rapid pace. I step down onto the platform and see people deboarding off of all the other trains. What in tarnation????

I finally get up the guts to approach the policeman, who looks a little haggard after arguing heatedly with an older Hungarian gentleman. I ask him, "What's up wid da train yo?"

Not understanding ebonics, he looks at me quizzically.

I repeat my question in Olde English, "Doth thou knowest what hath happened on thy train-eth?"

His face now resembles that of a lost puppy.

Finally I stoop down to his Level O' Language and ask, "Train? What...is...wrong...?"

"Bomb Alert," he replies.


So that's why everyone is huddled at one end of the station! But wait, what if said bomb is located at that same end of the station????


Everyone immediately files out of the station into the cold, dark night. By this time it's about 8pm so I head over to McDonald's with all of the other American passengers, who can sniff out a fast food restaurant within a 5 mile radius...much like those bomb sniffing dogs the policeman is now leading into Keleti. The restaurant is chaos and there are mad reports and gossip flying across the dining area like paper airplanes in a badly managed classroom (but I wouldn't know anything about that).

I call my fearless leader, Rob, and he advises me to basically get the heck away from there and find a hotel room for the night. As of 9:30 pm hundreds of people were still anxiously awaiting the reopening of the station, standing just outside the front doors. Now, in such a situation, would you stand directly next to a wall of glass...especially if there was a chance of explosion?

The next morning it was as if nothing had ever happened. I have no idea how long it took for the incendiary device-smelling dogs to sniff out any possible incendiary devices, but by 9am all was clear and normal. By those calculations, I think it's safe to say it took less than 12 hours. All is well and I am still in one piece.

Oh the joys and adventures of public transportation in the 21st century.

Here's a picture of the soon-to-be frozen Mob O' Passengers...

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