Welcome to Bratislava Main Station
Photo: Yusuke Kawasaki
All of us have experienced déjà vu. For the past two years, it happens to me almost every time I stand in the main hall of Bratislava Main Station to wait for my train home for the weekend. All the homeless people who found their home there and all the passengers started to seem familiar to me. But the last time, boredom itself desperately hypnotizing the departures board, I finally realized that these moments of déjà vu connected to people from the station are not only the repetition of what has already happened.
First of all, my thanks goes to Slovak Rail Company, without which I would never have got to know the faces of all the homeless dwelling at the Station. EC trains are most often delayed so I have time and, while waiting, I always become a target of interest for some homeless person hanging around the hall. Once you give one of them your heavier copper coins, you’ll never stand alone at the Main Station again. That is to say, they dispose of the ability of so-called “selective memory” – they remember only what they want, including the face of the girl with money clinking in her pocket wherever she goes and stupid enough to share it with them. But they forget to buy the bread given money was for. All of them at the Station have that ability. No exception. The rule they obviously stick to: The faster you run, the faster you’re done.
If you really have to travel by public transport, be sure to learn how to be rude. When you are explaining for the tenth time that you have no more ‘clinking’ money and want to get rid of the audience you’ve attracted, there’s a simple solution – leave the stage. Walk off. But then you also have to say goodbye to the idea of buying the cheapest coffee in Bratislava in “your” snack bar – all your coins are gone. So sit on a platform and take a book out of your bag. Now there are two things which might happen. Either you’ll prove that the intelligent look is in and a man with a fake English accent will approach. (He’ll try to hold a conversation about your skirt not being long enough to protect you from “such cold weather” and, receiving no response from you, he’ll talk about his trip to Germany where a good friend is dying after being in a car accident. Oh, how touching! Tell him to get lost.) The other possibility is that another homeless person or beggar will sidle up next to, breaking your chain of thought. Don’t worry; it’s not the last time you’ll ignore somebody. You’ll get used to it quickly. Ignorance is bliss.
But déjà vu does not end there. When you quit the reading you’ve been pretending to do in order to avoid the inevitable situation mentioned above, look around. You’ll be surprised how many people you know, how many you’ve already seen (and there’s no damn way to remember where) and just how many are so similar to people you know. For instance, I’ve seen my boyfriend’s brother-in-law twice. Of course, I asked him how he was. You wouldn’t believe the number of red-headed men walking the Earth who are exactly his height and look just like him! And still, that’s the moment you realize the originality of each person and every single second.
There is no such thing as déjà vu. There are no situations repeated or people already known but never met. Yes, it’s true that life’s like the Milky Way with no end and it seems that you always see the same colours, but take a closer look and you will definitely realize that the colours differ in shade. Nothing is the same. Everything’s one-of-a-kind. Panta rhei. Everything changes. The only thing constant in life is change. Now I know it. And every time I wait at the Station, I smile when I remember that all my journeys home bring new, different and exceptional moments.
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