I had hoped for a relatively boring stay in Warsaw, and I got just that (besides our quest in search of any bank or exchange office that would accept a fully torn-in-half 100$ note, which had ended in raving success: we got 70$ worth from it after a few hours of search – in Russia it would’ve been 50$). However, the journeys to and from, in line with the philosophy of the destination not necessarily being the most important part of a trip, made up for any lack of amusement! A quick glance at what happened:
On the way to Warsaw from Prague we were awaken at roughly 5am, upon crossing the Polish border. We were subsequently requested to pack up all our stuff and leave the cart, walking to the replacement cart (right next to the original one) with all our stuff… Turned out that Polish officials refused to allow this cart to proceed – possibly for technical reasons. I know nothing of trains and train safety, but the cart was kind of loud and shook more than one would expect of it, granted it was hooked right after the locomotive. Luckily, my travel companions in the coupe were positive type of people and joked the whole hustle through :). Once in a new cart (I must say it rode very smoothly, as was due, and didn’t shake side-to-side), we proceeded to climb back onto the beds and catch up on the sleep.
On the way back I experienced a different type of an ‘adventure’. I ended up alone in the coupe, and soon I wished I wasn’t. One of the passengers from next door stroke up a friendly chat. He was very happy when I said I was from Russia, because presumably our nations are very close and he likes Russian people a lot (well the part about his jacket saying “Russia” in big letters turned out to be true, indeed). He also said in the course of the conversation that unfolded that he was holding one of the official positions and dealt with political and economic representatives. He even showed me his picture with president Vaclav Klaus :).
Being the “I’m not impressed” type of a person when it comes to flashing one’s status, connections or anything similar to it, I instead form my opinion on people based on their personal merits, personality traits, and conduct. At first, he just seemed as any other kind-of-bored train passenger wishing to pass some time talking to someone else. His enthusiasm about me being Russian and also liking reading and philosophy was a bit exaggerated, I thought, but well – could have stemmed from his Southern origins.
The man said he likes cool people and prefers to be friends with them rather than hanging out with different folk he meets at work. Fair enough, thought I. He then went to change from the suit into something more comfy and came back. This is where, as it turned out, the ‘adventure’ was meant to begin – for him.
I guess he decided that I was conveniently enough alone, of a convenient age, not too ugly (questionable conclusion, granted how beaten up I managed to look that evening 😀 ) and of pretty low IQ :). Or something similarly enticing… Maybe he thought flashing his pictures with the Czech President et al was bound to either impress me enough, or to activate my inner gold-digger… (tough luck on both…). In either case, he insisted he was very interested in being ‘friends’, except judging from the fact that he didn’t wait too long before bragging about his massage skills (and offering me one, of course, swearing to god it’d be “very nice”), moving to sit closer to me and putting his hand around me, I figured out that my initial ‘way too friendly’ radar reading was spot-on and his idea of ‘friendship’ differed from the commonly accepted definitions of thereof… Even if all that wasn’t happening, it was enough that one of his first questions to me was whether I have a boyfriend (I just said all the positions are currently taken), followed by a generous offer from his side to become one, because (you guessed it) “it will be nice” and “you will like it”, as well as “I am not like the others” (damn, do all such men read the same freaking “how to pick up a dumb chick” manual or what? 😀 Seriously 😀 )… I was presented with his business card and even invited to his hotel upon arrival (for breakfast and a chat… I said I’d go sleep when I get back, he said I could sleep in his hotel, I asked him why… His answer indicated he also had a very different definition of ‘breakfast and a chat’ than is commonly accepted 😀 ), and to his home country any time :).
Unfortunately (for him), all I wanted was to have him move his hands back where they belonged. I also asked him how many times of saying “no” does it take to get the message across to the recipient. I must give him some credit though, for, despite being slightly under influence, he cooled off a bit and said if he made me uncomfortable he could leave. I said I wanted to sleep and yes, him leaving was the right thing to do at that point, so I nodded to that offer.
He went to his coupe, saying he might drop in later to talk some more, I nodded and once he left locked the door and went to sleep.
He came back a few minutes later and knocked, then tried the door – I played dead. When I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, I thought he’d be asleep by then. When I was just about to return, however, I saw him in the corridor, knocking again! (Maybe he wasn’t lying when he said he couldn’t sleep in the train…). Fortunately, he didn’t see me, so I hid back and waited, hoping he won’t try to open the door – then he’d know I’m awake and would continue on his agenda. I let a few minutes pass, walked quietly back to my coupe and opened the door, hoping he was not inside… No one was inside (although I had initially wished for some co-traveler, who could by the mere presence make it rather difficult for my neighbor to keep trying to score a quick round with a ‘random dumb chick’), to my relief, so I locked the door again and slept the rest of the night through undisturbed…
When the train arrived to Prague, I waited for everyone to get off with the door closed. I hoped they (him and his assistant) would have been gone when I get off – they were standing instead near the cart door. Luckily, I was wrapped in my scarf, and although if he could remember my red suitcase from the night before he could easily identify me, either because he didn’t or decided not to let it show, he didn’t say anything. I simply got off and walked away, too…
This was, thus far, the end of the adventures related to the trip, and here is what am left to say:
Dear fellow traveler: just because you hang out with presidents doesn’t mean every female traveling alone will happily suddenly transform into a common whore and offer you entertainment, become your ‘girlfriend’, go to your hotel, enjoy your massage, or whatever the fuck not else you had had in mind. Your money, position, friends, etc do not impress me, nor do they give you the right to not take “no” for an answer when it’s been repeated to you over 10 times in various explicit ways. Neither does it provide you with a license to start touching me (or any woman, for that matter), moving to sit closer and letting your hands wonder – all that AFTER I very clearly said I am NOT interested. You talked a lot about respect – well, SHOW some next time towards strangers you meet. If you truly want an honest, down to earth friend (without benefits, thank you) – holla back. If you only sought a quick random shag and talked about ‘shared interests’ not because of your genuine interest in me as a person, but as a manner of getting into my panties via express lane, tough fucking luck, mate – I’m the wrong kind of a girl to try this on.
Oh and a P.S. Note my decency of not mentioning your name, position or even country of origin: I wrote this as an advice for fellow single female travelers, and even more importantly as a reminder for the people of your kind who think they are entitled to seek taking advantage of others, for some bizarre reasons, and not as a way of a personal revenge. Neither do I judge you to be a horrible person or hold an unfavorable opinion of you. I only hold unfavorable opinion of your specific behavior in that train (including apologizing for something, then continuing doing it) – not your entire personality. Good luck in your life. I sincerely wish you well, just please treat strangers with more regard and respect next time and remember that we’re not all doormats created exclusively for your personal amusement.