Rooms – Train Freewrite 


We live our lives in separate rooms.

When the first racing games were developed, it became evident that the car didn’t actually move, it was the track that was moving. Sometimes this is how I feel.


As I write this I’m sharing a room with a Vietnamese family. It’s probably the only room we’ll share in our life. Just now the little girl shoved her tiny hand across her father’s face to shut him up. Slapstick knows no language.


The room is powering down the tracks towards the lights of the big city. I’ll get off at Newtown and jump on a bus back home to Marrickville. I wonder if I’m writing like this because I’ve been reading ‘A moveable feast’. In any case, I don’t own a shotgun.


We form attachments to the people who occupy the same spaces as ourselves. I feel like a busy train is similar to a new seating arrangement in school. We are separate from our friends and the silence is evident. In a few weeks, however, we’ve made new friends and the seating arrangement must change.


Thousands of people have written on trains to try and pass the time and somehow contribute to the oversaturated use of the train as a metaphor for fate or choice, or even a concept as loose as ‘life’. The truth is that anything short of the Orient Express is a waste of time.


The family just jumped off at Cabramatta.


I wonder what the inside of their house looks like? I’d imagine that it’ll still be raining when the father opens the door for his family, his little girl running past him to grab the last thing she was playing. The warmth inside is the closest thing the room can do to say ‘I missed you’. The red curtains, soft carpet, and the dull hum of a fish tank filter are the signifiers of home. Yet, they are nothing special.


It’s association. The rooms we occupy only have significance when memories are forgotten about them. When we can’t quite remember all the stories about high-school, that’s where the nostalgia comes from.


It’s 9:55pm and a woman is getting restless. In a true bogan fashion, the man yelled , “Stop your fu#king bitching”. I know the space they occupy and it’s why they are here. It’s why they are on the move. The forgotten memories that have seeped into the walls push them out. Sadness… hurt… disappointed. It’s why they’d rather be outside than in.


It’s why we crave holidays.


My room is like a cave. It’s dark, damp and ancient. I had a strange feeling when I was eating breakfast of the time I have left. Picturing myself as an old man, but at the same single table… eating alone. It’s a terrifying image.


The happy couple are still fighting. Next stop is Grandville. I remember changing trains there countless times and purchasing chicken rolls. Three people got off. One lady is watching makeup tutorials on her phone. She has purple hair.


Your body is the train, your consciousness is the track. You are right here with me. Your consciousness determines where you go, which rooms you occupy. Your body merely follows your mind.


Not the Orient Express, but hey, I think this bogan behind me might murder his wife.


Written on the train by Randall Evans


This is The Vile Mint

The Cave

I ventured deep inside a cave. Down into the warmth of the earth. Into a place where the sounds of the surface are left behind.

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It’s beautiful.

The rocks were magnificent. Each different formation had a name, ‘Actors on a stage’ or ‘The father of federation’, who faced the only exit.

But these were young names given to impossibly old monuments that have no thoughts or feelings. They neither love nor hate.

Yet attractive and full of mystery, the cave didn’t seem an important place for humans to venture. 

That is, until my light went out.

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It was total darkness. No phone screens, no torches and no lighters.

Nothing.

I could not see my hand in front of my face.

Heavy is the air that held me.

In that pure darkness, with my breath held silently in the still air, I discovered something.

I exist.

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I could still feel my hands. I could feel the texture of the rocks surrounding me.

To base existence on the perceived reality of touch, or any other sense, is far from profound. It was more than that. I based my existence on the following:

I felt the gentle warmth of skin brush past me for a split second.

In the billions of years the cave took to form, that minuscule fraction of time was the most powerful. A fraction of time smaller than a particle of mist that lands in the ocean.

I exist and so do you.
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The external is real.

I climb to the surface with the other explorers. The sounds of nature return to my ears.

My eyes have become windows. I’m now a guest in this world.

In the light under the warmth of the sun, I feel that moment of invisible beauty.

Existence.

reflection -- jenolan caves -- caves -- river -- underground -- lake -- australia -- travel -- sydney

– By Randall Evans.

The Train

“Be careful, it’s quite slippery.”

“I will. You taking photos?”

“Yeah, you?”

“Nah, i’m hoping to see a ghost.”

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Old Helensburgh Railway Station – Original Vile Mint Photo

The man’s camera flash echoed through the tunnel.

“Oh?”

“Yeah, I’ve been here before, but didn’t see anything. How long have you been in here?”

“I only just arrived.”

The abandoned train line was still and quiet.  It was beautiful in the day and ominous at night. People often came to take photos or go on guided ghost tours.

“Why do you want to see a ghost?”

“Because I’ve never seen one before.”

The flash echoes down the tunnel.

“What will you do when you find one?

“Probably run away.”

“Ah, so you are just thrill seeking.”

“Maybe…”

The flash echoes.

The woman slips on some mud and grabs the strangers shoulder to prevent herself falling down.

“I’m sorry, it’s so slippery.”

“It’s okay. How far down are you going to go?”

The darkness was thickening around them as they walked.

“As far as I have to to see a ghost.”

The man stopped in his tracks.

“Well, you had better stop walking.”

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Old Helensburgh Railway Station – Original Vile Mint Photo

The tunnel was silent but for a few drips of water. The mancontinued:

“This tunnel used to have trains passing through every hour full of different people. People in the rat race on the way to work, old men on their way to see their granddaughters and young children on their way to school.”

Darkness.

“For a time they were all together in the same carriage passing through the same tunnel. On late mornings they would have to run to make their train and on late evenings they would rest their heads agains the glass window and stare out into the darkness of this tunnel.”

The man turns his camera off.

“We are the only ghosts in this tunnel.”

– By Randall Evans.

India Part 3 – Feet

“This is a very dangerous area,” says the driver, “can not drive through here after six o’clock.”

RJ looks at his watch.

7:15pm

Staying in India is an odd experience for an outsider. The constant noise of traffic, the animals on the streets and the rubbish are all so different to things back home. Yet, these elements blanket the real experience. It’s only after a few days, when these things become normal, that this blanket is lifted. These distractions are not the real experiences India has to offer.

“So, you like living in Australia?”

RJ puts down his Indian style coffee, which is small and very sweet.

“Yeah, it’s not bad.”

The host nods his head.

“How is the electricity?”

All complaints about RJ’s home vanished in an instant. It’s too far from the city, the train station is a 10 minute drive away, the people are too nice and always wave, the cafe shuts at 5:00, the birds at the lake always swoop people… all gone.

Looking up at the single lightbulb on the roof and its wiring running down the wall and into the another room, RJ answers the host.

“It’s… it’s pretty good… can’t complain…”

The host nods… his eyes wandering in deep thought…

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On the last visit to the slum, RJ exchanges smiles with familiar faces. Faces that he never knew, but now, can never forget.

We see ourselves in the eyes of each other. The People in the slums suffer in silence, while the rest of the world tweets their emotions on a global scale.

He opens the door to the van, but as he does two small slum kids run up to him and touch his feet. Pranāma.

The blanket is lifted.

For one reason or another, RJ felt that he should be the one to touch their feet. Not the other way around. They were the ones who opened his eyes and they were the ones he respected.

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It’s 7:15.

The van travels in the dark down the forbidden road. The small hands that touched RJ’s feet keep a tight grip on his heart.

Small and very sweet.

“This is a very dangerous area,” says the driver…

Dangerous indeed…

– By Randall Evans.

India Part 2 – The Mountains

Based on my trip to India. 

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

One man’s day is another’s forever.

It is odd, thinks RJ, that such poverty could exist in the shadow of the worlds greatest mountain range. It is odd that the worlds tallest mountain is only tall enough to see man at the most basic level.

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Rj is sitting in a cool van with a camera on his lap. The real work is about to begin. The van travels through the town to a long road that RJ dubbed ‘slum drive’. Slum drive is a road that even the pigs avoid.

At this point, RJ is still fascinated by the number of animals that roam the streets freely. Pigs, cows, dogs (filthy dogs) and chickens go wherever they please until their owner brings them home.

The van stops.

The team travel off the main road and into the real slums. The only sounds that reaches RJ’s ears are the sounds of feet on earth. The crunching of shoes on dirt echo in his brain. Soon enough, his feet take to the ruins of an old building wall, the only way to continue on the path and stay out of the deepening mud holes.

Still the footsteps echo.

“Are we really here?”

“Am I really here?”

“Where am I?”

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He turns on the camera  and films his feet as they walk along the rubbish. Oh, the rubbish? You see, In India there is no garbage collection or waste management. The earth is the dump.

The camera makes it’s way up to the reveal the rest of the team as they walk along.

“I am the audience…” Thinks RJ.

Filming is like organising a wedding. Excitement and happiness are on one side and organisation and work on the other. To be efficient, it is essential to transcend oneself and become the camera. Become cruel and cold. Become nothing but procedure, settings, distances and angles. Emotions that could cause the camera to become more like a fragile human being are destroyed before they can be felt.

In this particular case, filming was more like planning a funeral.

In a ‘house’ lived seven people. A house of mud and stone. It’s roof lay above your waste and it’s beds as comfortable as cement could be.

In this house lives a 14 year old boy living with a disability. He was born with his bladder on the outside of his skin. He constantly wets himself. Medical treatment is far beyond the means of a slum community. _MG_7875 copy

The camera shakes. RJ gets out a cloth to clean the lens. The best practice for when one needs to take a deep breath.

Back in the van. The short journey to the hotel is a quiet one. Why do the streets now seem normal?

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

One man’s day is another’s forever.

– By Randall Evans.

India Part 1 – The Unknown

Based on my trip to India. 

The man wakes before the sun. Those few seconds between being asleep and being awake causes confusion.

“Where am I?”

The dream waves goodbye in the shadows of his mind.

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The first morning in a newcountry is always the most organized. The morning schedule is performed with precision. Three bags, a laptop, charger, wallet, phone and passport. Never forget your passport. Never part from your passport.

In fact, the first day especially is the day with the most number of pocket checks. You close the door of your hotel room and grab your pocket. Phone, wallet and passport. You take two steps down the staircase at the front of the hotel. Phone, wallet and passport. You jump out of the taxi. Phone, wallet and passport.

Checking to see if his pocket is still full, the man jumps into his car. Well, not his car. A hired drivers car. Because, let’s face it, no westerner can drive in india. The traffic in India is like the traffic in Thailand or Vietnam, except with cars and not bikes. They change lanes with no blinkers, beep their horns instead of giving way and it isn’t clear if there is a right or wrong side of the road. It really is survival of the fittest.

This man is clearly unfit. His name is RJ. He was taken to India in the eleventh hour to film some charity videos. One weeks notice for a job in the poorest part of a developing country with no time for immunizations to kick-in. In the true Australian attitude, RJ simply said, “No worries.”

From Delhi he travels north for 5 hours, although, distance isn’t measures in time. In India, It is measured in kilometers. With traffic so chaotic, estimated times are useless. Distance is king. The west ignores distance and measures everything in time. A deadline is a deadline and distance is your own damn problem. _MG_7783 copy

RJ arrives at the foot of the Himalayas. Checks into his hotel. Meets a contact and goes straight into the slums. From Sydney to the slums in less than 24 hours. What he saw there will never be forgotten, but that story will have to wait until the next post.

– By Randall Evans.