Joined: 23 Mar 2006
|Posted: Sun May 14, 2006 3:38 pm Post subject: REVERIE
|The cars roll by the window without stopping. There is not one break in the ceaseless flow of traffic. The machines’ low rumble fills the room… a constant noise accompanied by the music blearing out of the speakers at the ceiling. One has to talk loud in here; otherwise, the voice won’t carry over the background noises. The place is full of people. Full of voices recounting petty events. Fashion fads. Nothing of importance. A glance out of the window is stopped on the other side of the four-lane road by a grey façade. Next to another façade. The same on both sides of the street as far as one is able to see. Looking toward the sky, one may catch a hazy snippet of blue broken up by the silhouettes of grey skyscrapers. Hazy because of the exhaust fumes. It has been a while since the people here were able to see the stars at night. Inhaling the polluted air just to catch a glimpse of hazy blue is too high a prize to pay for almost everyone around here. That’s why the proprietor of the café has put up gigantic TV screens on the walls displaying various landscapes. At the wall opposite this table, a breathtaking view of the Himalaya is jus changing into the deep blue and crystal white of arctic ice and snow. Of course, these pictures are old. They’ve been digitalized and freshened up. Places like these have vanished from the Earth’s surface long ago. Grey has taken the place of nature’s brilliant hues.
Inside this place, a more or less gifted interior designer has tried to revive the flair of an Art Nouveau tea room. And failed miserably. It’s not just the TV screens that don’t go with the concept. It’s little details. Details that tell the designer would have preferred a steel and glass construction. Chairs which don’t allow a comfortable position but look cool. Tables with glass tops that get scratches before the first customer walks in. Instead, he or she was forced to work with plush cushioned chairs and sofas. Little round tables made of wood which is so expensive these days. Mirrors on the wall. Lots of mirrors reflecting the landscapes displayed on the huge screens. Makes the customers feel like they are in one big mirror cabinet, showing shards of mountains, oceans and – right now- an endless desert. Sahara. Gobi. Arizona. Wherever.
The waiter doesn’t blend into the strained scenario either. He should be wearing black. Elegant, quiet. He doesn’t. His bright pink and white shirt screams for attention. As does the barkeeper’s shirt in pink and violet. Who told men they’d look good in pink anyways? Such a liar. There’s not supposed to be a bar in a tea room either. Not that anyone would notice.
The people at the table close to the right are yapping about how quaint everything in here seems. The cute flower pots on the table. It’s plastic flowers, of course – just in case someone had expected otherwise. So easy to care for. Just like the plastic plant in the corner over there. Right next to the screen showing the Andes. Yes, of course, there are fake palm trees growing in the Andes.
On my table, next to the fake flowers, a little pot of coffee. Not tea. They don’t serve tea here. Bad coffee, too, by the way. A plate with a ridiculously expensive sandwich. Not made of plastic but tastes like it is. And right before me on the table: the book. Not a thick tome. Small. Hardly a couple of hundred pages bound in faded brown linen. I stroke its hide lovingly before I open it to the first page. It feels rough to the touch. The soft creaking noise of the opening binding drowns in the ocean of music, talk and traffic noise. But I can smell the paper. Old, dusty smell. The title page. I turn it, carefully not to hurt the fragile paper. First word. First sentence. First page.
A faint smell tickles my nose. Sweet. Must be the small yellow flowers that dot the green here and there. The soft breeze caresses the tress and slightly bends the grasses. Rays of sunlight warm the air. Birds chirping in the trees of the nearby forest. Peaceful silence. I close my eyes and plunge back into the story. Enjoy sitting in quiet surroundings of the meadow. Blinking contently towards the forest edge from time to time. The cool shade beneath the trees. Every once in a while I shift into another comfortable position. Keep on reading. The soft green grass makes for a good cushion. Turning the pages sounds loud out here. I love this book; love its characters and every turn the plot takes. One last chapter left. I stop reading for a few minutes, listen to the birds, and pick one of the beautiful yellow flowers. Toy with it while inhaling once more the sweet smell of the flowers and trees around me. The last page. The last sentence. The last word.
The fake flowers are still there. As is the pot of now cold coffee. But the sandwich is gone. The people at the other table are gone. Others sit there now. The conversation is the same. Of no importance. Pink and white stripes is careening through the room. Slightly overtaxed. The TV screens still displaying landscapes that have long gone. No sky outside. Just passing cars and grey buildings. But one single yellow flower between the pages of the book remains.