Monday, November 11, 2013

Balkan Portrait 4: The Signalman

The overnight sleeper train from Cluj-Napoca to Brașov was one of the highlights of my Balkans trip. It was a beautiful old train, straight out of a Hercule Poirot story – dark wood panelling, brass fittings and spotless linen sheets. They gave us our own coupé, even though we'd bought a cheap second-class ticket. All night the train rattled through Transylvanian forests and mysterious Romanian stations, and at daybreak the sun rose over the Eastern Carpathians.

We pulled into Brașov early in the morning. After the signalman had flagged our train off, I asked to take his photo. I like railways, and by extension railway employees. My grandmother's brother was an engine-driver, and I regret not having asked him lots of questions about life on the railroad when I had the chance.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Balkan Portrait 3: The Cyclist

Piaţa Muzeului in the Romanian city of Cluj-Napoca is a popular haunt for university students, so fashionable bikes are no rare sight. Even so, this one stood out. The owner said he got it second-hand at a great price.

When I asked if I could take his photo, he not only assented, but put his foot on the bench, deliberately took out a cigarette from his satchel and lit up. I took several photos, of which this one is my favourite.