On the train from Vilnius to Warsaw

I took the bus from Palanga to Vilnius. It cost 51Lt. Now I’m on the train to Warsaw. 67Lt. I have 10Lt in my pocket. The rest of my money I changed into Polish Zlotys. The woman in the bank seemed to find the way I said Polish amusing.

It took a while buying the train ticket, queueing at three different tills before I found one that would sell me the ticket, and then there was a load of paper work and a phone call. It was about a ten minute wait.

The train seems to be full of pensioners. We’re still in Lithuania (I don’t know if they get pensions here when they don’t work any more – I’ve seen many elderly beggars). The train stops at a place called Šeštokai – the š is pronounced sh. The woman selling me the ticket had to say the name three times before I understood. I knew she was telling me I had to change trains at some place, but I couldn’t read her handwriting on the ticket and I couldn’t match what she was saying to how it would look on a sign. So I asked her what time the train got to the place where I had to change and she wrote down the time for me. But this train termintes at Šeštokai anyway so I don’t have to worry about missing it.

An old man is eating pistaccio nuts noisily and an old woman is stretched out across seats 13 and 14, snoring. Seat 14 was the seat allocated to me on my ticket, but when I saw someone in it I just took another seat. On the bus from Palanga, or Klaipeda actually, to Vilnius, there were also allocated seats on the tickets but I didn’t realize until a couple of women got on and looked at the number of the seat I was in and then looked at their tickets. But they didn’t ask me to move and I didn’t offer to move. They just went and sat somewhere else.

There were two passport checks and a ticket inspection on the next train, which changed direction after the first station in Poland.

A distorted voice speaks on the intercom, accompanied by feedback-type squeals. This train is divided into compartments. I now have one to myself, though until the last station there was a middle-aged Christian back-packer in here as well. I’m assuming he was a Christian because he had a crucifix and rosary beads attached to his shirt and a stoney preachery kind of face, a bit like Billy Graham. I thought maybe he was an American, over here to spread the word or something, but he wasn’t. He asked if he could close the door to the compartment because it was a bit draughty and I said yeah, fine, so long as you say “There is no God. There is no God. There is no God.” (So the door remained open.)

I was in the mood for an argument. I’ve just been reading an article about the idea of a cyclic universe, one with no beginning and no end – the Big Bang being the collision of two M-branes in a 10-dimensional spacetime. Previously some God-believers have mentioned the Big Bang to me and asked what caused the Big Bang, implying it must have been their God, but I’ve never gone along with that. If the Big Bang was the beginning of space and time then asking what caused it seems to be a non-question since cause and effect don’t have much meaning without time so to ask what caused time…? And anyway, it doesn’t say in the book of Genesis that on the second day God created time.