It was a really long journey to the airport, taking over an hour by train, followed by 45 minutes by bus. Thankfully, the bus would drop me right at the airport. All I had to do was step through the door and get in line to pick up my boarding pass. Sometimes I wonder if it is worth going through this, in order to save a few bucks. In exchange for $20 - $30, I was using up 2 hours of my life, to get to the airport. In this instance, flying interstate would take me about the same time as the trip from the city to the airport.
I have always argued that I could read a book while I am on the train and bus, thus it was not a waste of time. I would get some R&R during my journey. Also, reading tends to make the journey seem short. All I had to do was sit there, with my nose in my book, and a little while later, I would arrive at the airport.
The flaw in my theory was that on this particular day, I could not read. I was very anxious. The airlines had stopped allowing online check-ins and insisted on closing the check-in counter 45 minutes prior to boarding time. This meant that I had to be at the airport, latest within an hour of boarding time. Making an allowance for delays and based on the train time tables, the entire journey from city to city (train, bus, flight plus all the wait times) was going to take me 6 hours! That was a really long time, even if I were reading a book. All for $30!
It was too late to change anything and I had to do what I had set out to do. Sitting in the train, unable to read, worried about a zillion things, including whether I would make it in time for check-in, whether the queue would be long, etc, I stared out of the window. I was not really looking at anything outside and there were a number of tunnels along the way, so I occasionally looked around me, inside the train.
At one station, as I watched people board the train, I saw a casually dressed girl, with a pleasant face, walk in. Her attire almost made her a non-entity but yet I had noticed her. I had picked her out of all those people who boarded the train and followed her trip from the door to her seat, with my eyes. In the next few seconds, I had forgotten about her and gone back to stressing about my trip and staring out the window. That was true, until I heard conversation in the carriage that was quiet until then. It was a rather loud male voice followed by a soft female voice.
A guy, seated opposite a girl at the front, was making conversation with her. She seemed to have been listening to music on her iPad and reading or playing but she looked up when he spoke. It was the same girl I had watched earlier. Apparently, the guy had received an iPad as a Christmas present and was excited about it. Soon, the conversation moved on from iPad to iPad games, to Christmas parties and various other events that happened across different states they had both visited over the last year.
It is amazing how a simple comment like, "I have an iPad too!" can turn into a long, incessant conversation. That is just what happened. Without realizing, I had been sucked into the scene that played before my eyes.
I must admit I love eavesdropping on other people's conversations in trains and buses. It keeps my mind occupied and I find it entertaining. Most of the time. So, here I was, listening to a conversation between a girl with a very pleasant face, and an equally pleasant demeanor, and a guy whose mind had not quite caught up with the rest of the body, age-wise. The conversation was rather interesting too. They probably knew I was listening, or were at least aware that one or more people in the train were, but they did not seem particularly bothered by it. A good thing too, that. From them, I heard about different kinds of music, the Big Day Out at the coast that I had read and wondered about, similar events in other parts of the world. I found out where the guy lived and the girl, who they lived with, where they were headed and why. All information that would mean nothing to me once I get off the train and head on my journey but made the journey pleasant, as conversations tend to do.
I did not miss my book for one minute of the journey. I did not even realize how long the train journey had been. As they both got off one station after another, the latter reaching his destination one stop before mine, the carriage got quieter. It hit me then that I still had another 45 minutes of a bus ride, to reach the airport. I figured I might have to read my book after all. Only, I was not particularly enthusiastic about it that afternoon and I did not. I chose to look out the window and get a feel of the route that I had taken so often in the past but never bothered to check out. It was not too bad. Maybe it was worth the trip, after all. I saved 30 bucks and had a new travel experience to write home about.