He was frustrated and cynical. He complained about Turkish people making noise and Russians being violent. He talked without stopping once. He had been on the road for a long time. There was a time when he lived in Munich but his neighbours always drove him away, he had been unlucky he said. He pointed at his bike. He showed me the small tv he dragged around. He watched it at gas stations, or any other place where he could find a socket. He raised his voice at a man who passed us and stared at him.
He angrily discussed all the tourists here who wouldn't give him money, the woman who gave him a cigarette but didn't want to get too close to him.
I gave him some money. Who am I to judge?
I passed the cinema, A CINEMA! They were showing a movie I had been wanting to see, Ida. I went inside to ask if it was in the original language and got into a conversation with the owner who not only decides on the program, but also sells the tickets, makes the popcorn, cleans the building and does all the technical work involved. He proudly showed me the cinema theater and invited me to come and see the movie one of these days.
I bought souvenirs in the antiques shop. Old photos, magical images, a tiny silver spoon, cufflinks with birds. Small things. Beautiful things.
I biked home. The rain had stopped. Home.
I found an email from Christian. I had met him shortly in Passau and we had lunch the day after when I caught up on him. He was on his way to Budapest. Which meant he would cross the Maria Valeria Bridge inbetween Sturovo and Esztergom, where I had been the Bridge Guard in the Bridge Guard Art & Science Center for the bigger part of the year in 2005. It was a special time and these days, walking along the Danube, I often think about it, feeling tempted sometimes to just keep on walking and return, but my goal is a different one so I told people who passed me on the road about the bridge and they took part of me with them. Christian sent me a photo of the bridge and the "incredible sky" over it the day he crossed it. From the angle I could see where he had been standing, where I once stood, where possibly the Swiss couple I had met a few days before I met Christian had stood. I imagined him walking the streets of Esztergom, eating in one of the restaurants I enjoyed visiting, listening to this impossible language which I recognise so well but never managed to speak.
We meet and we continue on our travels but our roads keep crossing, old roads crossing new roads, walking in each others footsteps, meeting people knowing people we once lived around the corner with. We say the world is small but it isn't. We are small. And the world is big. But we look for each other, we need each other. We want to be connected. And the world gives us what we want. We see each other in people passing by, in newspapers, books. In bridges, trees, airplanes. We touch each other by looking at the sky, by listening to the winds, the cars rushing by. We leave traces, marks, memories, we are everywhere.