The People We Met Today: A Travel Diary Entry

Us on the bus.

Hello and welcome to another blog post written on a Saturday.

I was nearly finished making lunch when the real estate agent showed up. I had completely forgotten that he was going to show the house to a potential buyer. I quickly fished out some soft pumpkin pieces from the pot and put them in a transparent container for our later consumption. 

A can of chickpeas sat unopened. I walked away from a pot of cooked rice and a wok full of kale and carrots, which had been moderately seasoned with garlic salt and onion powder. At least the kitchen smells inviting, I thought.

We were meant to pick up a box of second-hand Disney DVDs yesterday, but my husband had one of his awful PTSD relapses. The seller has had many people asking about his listing. I did not want to take any chances. I promised that I would pick them up today. 

As the real estate agent brought a young family around the property, Hannah and I ate warm pumpkin in the garage. We had about half an hour to spare before the bus arrived.

I began writing this while I was on a train to Middelfart. The journey took an hour and a half on public transport. It has been quite an eventful day and I am beat. But Saturday is blogging day, so here I am.

All our Walt Disney goodies.

The seller was a man in his sixties who reminded me of Helge's shyness and hospitality. He lived in one of the row of houses, in number 14. I went around the compound twice, unable to locate that number. It turned out that they only had odd numbers on that side of the road. The even numbers were on the other side. 

We crossed the road together, him and I. Hannah was sound asleep in the pram. We made some small talk. I said that I got lost so he could get some fresh air. He laughed and said yeah. Our conversation made me miss Helge. But I do that everyday.

I was pleasantly surprised when the man threw in a Blu-ray Zootopia DVD for free, after asking if my DVD player supported that format. I had expressed interest in that movie in our text conversation, but he said that he no longer had that DVD.

After picking up 28 Disney classics DVDs, costing 800 Danish kroner ($5.70 Singapore dollars each), I walked to the supermarket opposite the train station to buy some food. I walked out with two boxes of Christmas cookies (brunkager og kokost├Žnger), four rolls of wheat biscuits (Mariekiks) and a Christmas advent calendar candle (julelys). Armed with sweet fuel, we were ready for our return trip.

Sharing brunkager (left) and kokost├Žnger (right).

I needed the toilet and was irritated to find that you had to pay to use the toilet at the train station. It was not just twenty cents this time (Singapore currency), it was a whole Sing dollar! Plus the machine would only take credit cards. My mind swam with thoughts of the additional fees that my overseas card would incur. 

I was standing outside the locked bathroom, debating if I should pay to relieve myself, when a teenage boy came rushing towards me. He was the same half-Asian boy who exited the toilet just moments ago. 

'Can you help me?', he said, puffing. He had left his phone in the toilet and needed someone to open the door. He promised to pay me back, but that would not work for me. I don't have a Danish bank account that is required for easy electronic money transfer. The boy quickly found someone else who was willing: a friendly, bearded fellow that was sitting on a bench in front of the toilet, with earphones plugged into his ears. That was his guy.

Leaving those two, Hannah and I proceeded up to wait for the train. We were more than half an hour early. It was prime time to sit down somewhere and taste our cookies. We found a bench and began the day's work. 

The coconut rods had a mild taste of coconut that was overshadowed by the velvety taste of butter. The brown cakes burst with the taste of cinnamon and clove. That was exactly how they were meant to taste. I alternated the cookies and ate quite a handful, until they stopped bringing me joy.

Minutes before the train arrived, Hannah and I got up from the bench and readied ourselves for our next event. While waiting, Hannah caught the attention of a man and a lady. Both looked like they were in their early thirties. They had been chatting away with one another and looked like they were good colleagues.

Train station in Middelfart.
The lady asked Hannah for her name, but she was too shy to answer. After receiving the same question a couple of times, I squatted down to ask Hannah if I am allowed to tell the lady her name. She nodded yes.

That quickly grew into a conversation among the four of us. They commented on Hannah's beautiful snow suit. I beamed and said that it is the first time that she is having it on. The young man said that it would be so fun when the snow comes and Hannah can lay down on it, and still be warm. 

Hannah did not understand what was being said in Danish, so I translated it for her. Finally understanding, Hannah became consumed by the thought of playing in the snow and making snow balls. 'Mummy wear gloves and make snow ball, right?', she said with her eyes widened.

The train soon arrived and we said our goodbyes. I got on the wrong cabin and did not manage to get a seat. I needed the bicycle cabin to park the pram, you see. But as we stood outside the toilet, I started to realise, hey, that's the toilet! I asked a plus-size mother who was sitting outside the washroom, if she could watch my pram. She was in the middle of feeding her toddler a ryebread sandwich. She said, ‘of course’.

After relieving myself, I moved Hannah's pram slightly so it gave her a direct view of the little boy. They viewed each other in fascination. It was as though they had never been in such close proximity with another toddler before. 

I asked Hannah if she wanted a wheat biscuit. She thought that it was a fantastic idea. The boy saw what was happening and immediately refused to eat his food. He wanted a wheat biscuit too. His mom tried to entice him with her tiny fish-shaped biscuits. To no avail. 

I was initially worried that she would think that I was bad influence to her son - I mean, if she was the type to ban her child from non-nutritious snacks. Thankfully, I was allowed to give her son two biscuits. No problem. 

Mariekiks are quite addictive.

Hannah got some of the boy's apple slices and fish biscuits. They bonded over shared snacks and a constant gaze. Just then, a lean and petite dark-skinned lady came to use the toilet. She looked like she was in her thirties. When she came out, she looked at our children and marvelled at how small and precious they were. 

She asked where was I from. I said Singapore. She said that she was my neighbour from Thailand. She has two kids, a 16-year old and a 20-year old. Then she disclosed that she was actually forty-five. We were surprised and said that we would never have guessed. ‘It’s the size’, she said, smiling.

The mother of the toddler shared that the father of her son is Palestinian, but they are no longer together. She is a single mom, who is with her son 24/7. It gets overwhelming at times, she said. I can only imagine. The boy would soon turn two in January.

Haven't been to an airport in a long time.
They had their luggage with them and the train was heading to the Copenhagen airport. I guessed that they were going away on a holiday. I hope that they are having a great time, wherever they might be. 

After we got off the train, I spotted this library book sale in the same building as the train station. Every book costed a dollar (Singapore currency). We did not have much time to look around as it was near closing time. I left with two books for Hannah - I picked one and she chose one herself. 

I saw this grand and beautiful Christmas lights festival from the train station and asked Hannah if she wanted to check it out. We crossed the road and peered through the gaps between the barricades, to see the magical lights inside. 

Peeking through the barricades.
We moved closer to the entrance where I found the ticketing booth. I was all ready to pay when I overheard the security guard talking about checking our coronapas (coronavirus passport), which I did not have. 

I explained to Hannah that we would have to come back another day. She nodded. Hannah was happy to look through the gaps once in a while, to be surprised with rows of Christmas trees or a magnificent reindeer made of lights.

We ended the night with a stroll through Odense, on the way to a familiar bus stop. Christmas lights were up. As I walked, I had this feeling of gratitude to be where I was, at this time of my life. I would turn 27 in about a month. I am doing it rough in a few areas at the moment, but I have so much to be thankful for.

If I had stayed home today to write this blog post, it would have been about my Christmas and birthday wish-list. I wanted a pair of zoo tickets, Tivoli tickets, a windproof snow suit in the colour 'sand', a gift of Headspace subscription for next year, and stamp money to send Christmas cards overseas (man, are they expensive). But I guess this blog post is much more... lovely. It is lovelier.

Alright, I was beat, now I am freaking tired. Goodnight you guys. It is still Saturday (23:24) so technically I have shown up for my weekly blog post assignment. (I know I am very late.) 

See you next week.

Wishing you some rest too x
-V

Charming Christmas lights in Odense.

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