“There is no train”.
The woman at the ticket window said coldly. “Your Train left at 4am”. F*ck, she was right, I’d done the old come for the 4pm Train only to realize there’s a 24 hour clock of course. The non-existent train that I was trying to catch would have been 16:00. With robotic efficiency, she looked back at the timetable and up to me "Next train to Tashkent 11pm."
That’s how we ended up boarding a night train under the desert stars in the countryside of Uzbekistan. I had no idea what to expect, this train was going where we needed to go and we were getting on it.
We tucked into our cabin, a clean two-berth sleeper with fresh white sheets. Thank you former USSR infrastructure. I went for a wander and found mini-rituals of families tucking into bunks, tea being poured from the giant Samovar at the end of the car, militantly dressed attendants efficiently checking tickets. Hell, it was not only better than Amtrack, it was the type of train travel authors pine for nostalgically in travel memoirs.
As the giant steel compartment creaked away from the station I tucked in for the evening. Sometimes I think of an old song lyric in these times “hold on to these moments as they pass”. That feeling when you are present in what will surely be a lifelong memory.
Months later, I think about the night train in Uzbekistan, sitting in a park in Manhattan. It feels like I got to partake in time travel for an evening. Sometimes making a mistake on the road is where the good stuff begins.
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