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Post details: Time Machine on Track 4

Time Machine on Track 4

Life is like a movie set. Find the right props and it catapults you into the most exotic locations. If you get lucky, you can even visit that most coveted destination of all - the past.

This August I was waiting for a train at a small station in the border region of northeast Bohemia as I was returning from a trip to my parents' summerhouse. It was already dark and the train to come was the last one to serve this particular route for the day. We used to call these "Boozer Trains" as they mostly collected local tipplers and carried them home. After I left Czechoslovakia more than 20 years ago, the fleet of the state owned railways has undergone a significant modernization - high speed trains are barreling down the main corridors and even the local branches are served by fast and efficient multiple units. I was fully expecting one of those newfangled marvels of modern transportation, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the familiar view of a one car train that was popular in the 1970s. Apparently the Czech Railways kept couple of them in service for those late under-utilized connections.

For me, there is a definite sentimental value associated with this type of motor car (technically known as Series 810). The moment I stepped on board it was as if I set foot in a different time. I immediately recognized the layout of its seating configuration, and as we took off the familiar grumbling of its diesel engine fit snugly in my memory keyhole. Even the wailing sounds made by its undercarriage hadn't changed a bit. The rickety soul of this vehicle carried with it a piece of my life. And the passengers looked like they fell out from an old communist retro flick, too. No sign of tablets or smartphones. Just a bunch of local guys who probably rarely made it into my hometown (a regional capital), much less to Prague; a couple of teenagers discussing the standings of some soccer teams that FIFA did not even know existed and a conductor that knew nearly everyone by name and a few by occupation. And all that was nicely pickled in the sweet smell of the meadows blowing their pollen into the summer breeze alongside the river Orlice.

It was an instant trip to the past. The sense of traveling in some surreal dimension was so palpable that I felt I'd heard the public address system informing me that we were about to arrive at the Hogwarts Central Station. Who says time machines don't exist? They are all around us. You just have to recognize them and hop in when they arrive at your feet.

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