Life on a train

Tim Newman is blogging up a storm at the moment, including this particularly entertaining piece on train travel in Russia:

If any budding writer was stuck for material for a new book, he could fill volumes with what he saw whilst riding Russian trains for a month.  Lacking fancy Western gadgets like iPods, the entertainment is laid on for you.  Watch the people, watch the scenery.  Look on with amazement though grimy windows at the surreal scenes unfolding before your eyes as the train pulls into a station.

I remember it well… the drunken conversations with sailors on their way home to visit their wives and families, the lovely old babuskas with breath that could kill an elephant at 20 paces, and the enterprising Chinese and Mongolian shuttle traders, who can cram the contents of a small warehouse into one tiny train compartment.  Every aspect of human life, alll cooped up in a kilometre long by three yards wide tube of metal, chugging its way through the rolling hills of Russia.

And while you’re at Tim’s blog, check out this absolutely ruthless dissection of George Clooney’s new film, Syriana, by a man who actually works in the oil industry.