Few places are better for people watching than train stations. Especially Italian train stations. Countless bodies moving about. Some walking, some running, some looking upwards at the large arrivi e partenze-- arrivals and departures-- board to find their platform the letters and numbers clacking together as they shift to reveal different schedules and delays. My favorites are the ones who are running--correction, running as well as they can with a large suitcase or duffel-- towards their train. Who are they? Where are they going? Why are they going there? I would make it a sort of game creating a biography for each person to pass the time.
I derive a sort of pleasure from watching these people run. Is that cynical? Maybe, but I just enjoy the chaos that is Termini. Situated in the heart of Rome, and because it is the only place where the Metro Linea A and Linea B meet, it is always a flurry of activity. Italian, Spanish, English, Mandarin, French, German, languages I could not even identify are spoken in rapid fire as the speakers attempt to navigate their way around the vast station. Then there are those who arrived early enough to grab a last minute espresso before departing.
"Un caffe per favore." "Uno euro." "Grazie."
Termini was another place where I could blend in. Even though Rome is a very international city with all walks of life, my bright blonde head of hair, pale skin and non-Euro attire caused me to stick out like a sore thumb. It was sometimes as if there was a giant arrow of flashing lights above my head pointing out my foreignness to everyone. (Staring in Europe deserves and entire blog post of its own) Even when I would try to use my Italian to communicate with the locals some would reply in English much to my dismay. In Termini, however, I was not the only fair skin, light haired girl who wore sandals when it was 80 degrees in October--Italians dress for the season, not for the weather. At Termini it was okay to run fully clothed. It was acceptable to stare. It was /somewhat/ acceptable to order a cappuccino after noon. It was okay to don a backpack stuffed with way too many things for the 3 days weekend trip. Termini was not only a crossing point between Metro lines, train transfers, arrivals or departures. It was a place where it was okay to stand out, and where I actually became okay with sticking out.
Train stations are odd places. Countless people walking in and out of each other's lives in an instant. The monotony of a daily commute, the excitement of leaving for a trip. All there for a common purpose, to board a train...
...coming or going? Where to next?