Whenever I hear a train blowing its whistle, I think of Marcel Proust's Du côté de chez Swann, where a train whistle in the night evoked in the boy's imagination an empty stretch of countryside, the excitement of new places, conversations with strangers, even the sweet anticipation of a return trip.
I certainly can relate to Mr Proust's run of imagination. Where I grew up there was no train, but I used to watch buses carrying passengers to faraway places and yearn to be on one of them, the desire being so strong it would shoot a pang through my young heart. I would fantasize about leaving my lethargic small town for good, treading unfamiliar roads, taking in novel sights and sounds, encountering interesting people and hearing about their experiences.
Recently I moved to a new house with a railroad in the proximity. At night I can hear train whistles blowing. To my dismay, these whistles do not arouse any romantic longing in me, but make me feel annoyed instead. I don't want my sleep disturbed, you see.
How did I ever become so jaded?