Sunday, 15 August 2010

Woken by a levitating bag


Shutting eye shutting down
Sometimes, I wonder about my sleeplessness in bed but sleepfulness in anything that moves, cars, trains, buses, planes, boats; I seem to find the spirit of slumber overtaking my wakefulness quite easily.
For all the canal trips that I have been on in Amsterdam either as a tourist or a host I have hardly ever kept awake long enough to survive the hour.
The gentle rocking motion that does wonders to quieten upset babies in their perambulators appears not to have deserted me at all.
Don’t steal my sleep
However, in all that slumber is some awareness I cannot account for but am grateful to have as experienced years ago when I noticed a bag theft on a train at Amsterdam Sloterdijk and like an zombie made for the thief, grabbed his jumper and as the train doors were closing, he dropped the bag and made off.
In fact, there were 2 in that game, in the cloud of the eerie haze of sleep, I saw one man get on the coach and drop some money, as the passenger leant down to help pick up the coins the other man walked by picking up his bag of legal documents and made for the exit – it all looked so strange and hence my reaction.
Meanwhile the passenger was none the wiser about it until I returned the bag to him; I was offered a police job in Bahrain – thank you very much, but no thanks.
Drop anchor on bags
One lesson I had learnt from that episode was to put my bags on the inside where the window seat is not occupied on a train and I take the aisle seat.
If the seats have arm rests, I twist the bag strap around the arm rest as an additional protective measure; we are usually warned about pickpockets at stations but the pickpockets are usually bag snatchers.
However, I have never heard an announcement like that around the Antwerp Central Station, so you can imagine as my journey from Brussels stopped at Antwerp I was in the stupor of sleep when I suddenly woke up to see my bag levitating with the aid of strange hand.
What to lose?
Even I was surprised by my reaction because all I did in almost deadpan Englishness was ask him, “What are you doing?” He mumbled something about looking for his ticket as my bag was allowed to yield to the force of gravity to land where it once was.
As I stood up, the man made for the exit, quite a close encounter that was, in one of those instances where my bag was not as tethered to moorings of the seat as one is wont to doing. It was a different kind of train and seating arrangement compared to the usual service.
Maybe I need to find that part of my brain that triggers sleep while in motion and have it lobotomised before I come to grief, though I do know that I have never witnessed any car accidents I have been in, sleep spared me the shock of those events and denied interested parties useful commentary from an eye witness because my invariably were closed at the time.
Thankfully, I did not suffer any loss apart from the loss of sleep at the point that I believe I was dreaming.

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