Pascal Derrien

3 years ago · 3 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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These Days

These Days

Metz, France 1974

I am probably four, its my first school year and my parents told me it was a time I was madly in love with my teacher. We have settled here for a few months but I am well accustomed to move from places to places. In the last 18 months a  major change has occurred though, insofar as we have upgraded our short stays from a large caravan on wheels usually sitting on a deserted suburban parking to centrally rented and fully furnished flats. People here have a funny accent I think but little I know it would not take me long to pick it up myself before having to off load it on our next stop a few months later.

For the time being I enjoy the snow on this cold day of December 1974 even though logistical constraints mean that I am confined to spend the entire day in our 3 rooms flat. Living on the last floor of a seven storey building there is no way I can be left unsupervised in the playground by -2 Celsius.  

So I have retired to my parents bedroom, I like to climb on their bed as I have a access to a small window overlooking the busy train station. The 'lucarne'' is small and half covered with frost in contrast with the warm flat. Its fascinating  to observe such a hive of activity thru this little look on.

From right to left, my field of vision is full with loads, reloads and off loads of people and merchandise. I notice some people are wearing uniforms while others (I call them civilians) are engulfed in their winter coats but all of them seem to have in common that they know what they are doing , their demeanour is assertive albeit brisk sometimes but always in a motion that doesn't display any form of insecurity or suggest uncertainty.

Even though I would love to board one of those carriages I can not help asking myself where those train railcars and fancy locomotives are coming from and where they are going to?

Sofia, Bulgaria 1991

A trip for a soul badly needing repair took me to the Bulgarian capital for reasons that still somewhat escape me today. I have no clue why I had picked that destination, was it some adventurous eastern exploration, or some aspiration to experience the deceleration of the engine called the communist block.

Indeed, shortly after the Wall fell I went thru a central and eastern european roaming spell that had already taken me on a night train to Poland thru East Germany. That was the year before but prior to that trip I had also journeyed for more than 25 hours over to Budapest on a cramped bus. I had also added Prague  as a curiosity destination just to see what it looked like a few months earlier.That was long before it got fashionable to spend a week end in the Czech capital.  

February in Bulgaria is cold and I stand out like a sore thumb among the other pedestrians. My base ball cap and navy parka makes me look like a Marine on a day off and it is not helped by the fact that I am wearing rangers boots to protect my feet from the cold. I am staying in a very cheap and average hotel which oddly enough saw an anti mafia raid taking place the second morning I was there.

A big bang at the door suddenly left place to three officers barking at me some obscenities in a language I did mot master. I went to pick my passport and they retreated with incredulity once they saw my ID. There was a few unidentified insects crawling back to my room when the elite policemen slammed the door without a word.

I wandered for a few days in Sofia with no  particular plan, my itinerary was led by instinct, mood and curiosity. I found a pizzeria owned by Macedonians, they spoke a bit of English and it became my HQ.

One day the owner asked me why I was there, in a town where by all means I seemed to be the only westerner. I looked at him and he got somewhat dumbfounded by my reply: '' if only I knew man, if only I knew! '' .   

Dublin, Ireland 2018

That was then. These days I am slightly older if not any wiser, I am about to enter into my fifth decade and have firmly concluded two life decades in Ireland. We had a very strong and unusual episode of snow in the recent weeks so much so that schools had to be closed and people were advised to remain indoors. Trains were not working and many events were called off.

My eldest is passing an entry exam with the secondary school he will attend next year. Its close enough from where we live , it has beautiful grounds including great sport facilities. I love the pottery cottages and small houses labs near the Hockey pitches. There is a youthful atmosphere emanating from the campus, it reminds me of Harry Potter that's probably not even remotely true but that's the closest benchmark I can come up with.

My son will enter his exam room later but only after parents and pupils have attended a welcome speech from the head master. I am not sure what he says but he is busy answering inquisitive questions from anxious and zealous parents. I think it is closer to an interrogatory than a bunch of candid questions about logistics and fees.

I have zero interest in mind games or ping pong exchanges so I detach myself from the room and begin to intensely stare at the perfectly manicured lawn. I sense a change. What it is I don't know and I am very unsure I can even start to explain let alone describe it in physical terms.

The best I can think of is a tangible sentiment of time shift, a peaceful alteration to the journey , a palpable invitation from soft voices to begin another voyage.

The head master has finished his introductory speech and everybody gets up. 

People and stuff

Photo Credit

Mediocrity in life

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Written Material Copyright 2018 - Pascal Derrien -

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Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #32

many thanks for reading that one Louise I often do cliff hangers it leaves the reader with the power to imagine.... well that's what I would like to believe :-)

Louise Smith

3 years ago #31

You might like this Energy of Attraction 21 Day free meditation with Deepak Chopra started July 23 A transformative meditation journey revealing the secrets to attracting love, success, and happiness. Tap into your true ability to co-create with the universe, let go of constricting beliefs to embrace all possibilities for success and harness your power to manifest your best and most meaningful life. Day 3 is very good I listened to it 3 times

Louise Smith

3 years ago #30

I got lost somewhere between the perfectly manicured lawn & the headmaster finishing his speech I was disappointed when I realised the the headmaster finishing his speech was the end of your post I thought you were going to expand on "a tangible sentiment of time shift, a peaceful alteration to the journey , a palpable invitation from soft voices to begin another voyage" with another sub section Your writing was so calming, I think I went into then out of hypnosis !

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #29

Thanks I have travelled a lot not everywhere but almost on all continents bar Australia, people learn about themselves in different way for me exploring was the best apprenticeship :-)

🐝 Fatima G. Williams

3 years ago #28

If I only knew if I only knew I will be transporting people to places like you do :) Travel gives us so much and Thank you for sharing it with us Pal Pascal Derrien

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #27

cheers scratching my head now :-) The title is probably more in relation with the last paragraph to me that's what is important not the past even though I like to acknowledge it :-)

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #26

ah you are very good and it's great encouragement to know that those short stories do resonate and end up becoming static travels vehicles, thank you Franci\ud83d\udc1dEugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador :-)

I love you stories, Pascal Derrien. They take me to places I haven't been nor will I ever have the opportunity to do so. With that said, I feel can experience some of your adventures while enjoying your posts. Magical stuff, my friend.

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #24

wow Proma \ud83d\udc1d Nautiyal this is such a praise that I am almost embarrassed and I am blushing now :-) That was the intent so I think its good it did work out happy way :-)

Proma 🐝 Nautiyal

3 years ago #23

Such a beautiful post, Pascal Derrien. You have that magic of creating soul-stirring pieces that transport your readers to another world, altogether; the world you are talking about. Your works give me goosebumps, in a happy way. :-)

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #22

This is very nice comment Shelley Brown, I am very humbled by your words few words, sometimes we don't need to know people to know people :-)

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #21

I would not have said it any better and I second that :-)

Mohammed Abdul Jawad

3 years ago #20

When our lives take turns to retire and experience its onward journey and changes, then we experience vivid memories of childhood and great aspirations and achievements of our dear, spirited youth.

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #19

#22 that's nice to hear Neil Smith and very kind of you to mention it on top of reading my wacko stuff :-) You are a gentleman :-)

Neil Smith

3 years ago #18

Your stuff is always very evocative Pascal and never fails to stir memories, usually good or at the least interesting. Thank you.

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #17

thank you who needs virtual reality ? :-) Gert Scholtz many thanks for commenting and sharing your kind thoughts !

Gert Scholtz

3 years ago #16

Pascal Derrien Travel: vicariously by watching trains, landing in a place and not knowing why you’re there, and embarking on a new phase with children – all are journeys in life. Worded as only you can Pascal – thanks.

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #15

Its too demanding writing about a whole week I am a part timer :-) Ken Boddie

Ken Boddie

3 years ago #14

Three days in the life of the enigma that is Pascal Derrien. These tales leave us hanging for more please.

Randall Burns

3 years ago #13

Indeed! But that's what makes it relate-able, interesting, and entertaining

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #12

thanks Randall Burns how funny that every day stuff can become the backbone of a story line :-)

Randall Burns

3 years ago #11

Very entertaining read Pascal Derrien

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #10

thanks Bill King indeed life on ''static'' wheels is a paradox :-)

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #9

thanks Ali in 1991 it was a mixed bag but customer service was still a very alien concept , menus were sometimes pretty tricky too as I cannot read anything in cyrillic alphabet either :-)

I have been to Sofia and Varna. I remember back in 1974 when I was there and as much as I enjoyed my trip I had difficulty in communicating with people. In restaurants waiters were not motivated to serve because they got their salaries whether they served the customer or not. Still, I enjoyed the food there and in particular the Gypsy Salad. Thank you Pascal Derrien for bringing back old memories.

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #7

Indeed and alsmost spooky I thought about that song when writing this, funnily enough I also bought a Bon Jovi K7 tape in the sheltered market in Sofia that week but I don think they had written that one yet :-)

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #6

ah thank you Claire L Cardwell a bit on the erratic side of musing :-) :-)

Claire L Cardwell

3 years ago #5

Another great read Pascal Derrien!

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #4

thanks Julio Angel \ud83d\udc1dLopez Lopez hopefully something along those lines indeed :-)

😉 👏👏👏 that the change be for good Pascal Derrien

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #2

thank you Mister Debasish Majumder :-)

Debasish Majumder

3 years ago #1

wonderful buzz Pascal Derrien! enjoyed read and shared. thank you very much for the buzz.

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