The One Lab


I am on a train to Belfast now — most of the way there at this point. The train attendant says we should be arriving in Belfast at half 12.

My travelling companion left about two stops back, thankfully. His name is "Moses" and says he's been living here for about four years now. And he's more than a little creepy. More than once he took both of my hands and caressed them in his own, referred to me as "baby" and at his stop, he asked me to kiss him. Thankfully I have his cell number, so I can ignore his eventual SMS and cell calls.

I woke at around 7am, waited at the DART station for about 20 minutes. The whole time, all I had as my companion was the sound of the environment around me. I honestly think I enjoy that more than strange human contact. With any luck, I can avoid him for the remainder of my trip. I've had little to eat until now.

At this point, I've had a cup of tea (thankfully not drunk entirely by someone else) and a danish. Not quite nutritious, but enough to stave off hunger until I can get some decent food.

Ireland is a ranger's paradise. Greenery is the carpet and canopy of everything here — even the buildings cannot last long against nature's wild embrace. Slowness of nature seems to have even permeated the people, and yet, there are two wars being fought: progress against nature, and Irish against British.

My cell phone lazily buzzes at me in my pocket. Is it the dreaded "Moses"? Thankfully, no. It is a message from Vodaphone, letting me know my phone is registered for use on their network. Unfortunately, data access still doesn't work. Steel sprouts from the machine tilled ground — the plants of progress and industry — fighting to stay up and uncorroded in the sea of vines and trees surrounding them. Only to be ravaged and corroded as nature pushes back.

Even nature's own building material — stone — once unearthed and re-used by the inhabitants, cannot fight or stand for long, as vines embed and entwine. So I'm off to Belfast, last vestige of the Brits, on rusted iron rails, to see the front of the second war: the war of culture.

20/May — 18:45

Back on the train in Belfast Central station, my feet screaming like a pair of wounded hyenas, but feeling a little more travel worthy. I have managed to so far elude "Moses" and hope it can stay that way. As for Belfast, I found quite a different war: one of religion and nationalism. Belfast — and most of northern Ireland, it seems — is still under British control, though there are still many remnants of war and heavy fighting. Murals celebrate militias with three-letter acronyms everywhere, and the loyalists to Ireland draw strange ties to Israel and Palestine — as for me, being Jewish, I am more than slightly concerned, and feeling a bit unwelcome. Despite this feeling, it isn't a hatred directed towards me and my kin, but instead a strange stance from the Catholics here against the Protestants.

I've decided to move forward some to get away from one of my fellow passengers and ended up in the dining car. So far, I like it quite a bit — it's peaceful, and the bar is situated so that passengers look out the window.