I had just installed myself in my seat on board the Perurail Titicaca Train in Cusco. My carriage was elegant with wooden panels, white table cloths and plush seating. It exuded an air of elegance long gone from modern travel.
My fellow passengers offered a compelling reminder that this was, after all, modern travel. While old-world travellers dressed to code, today’s lot believe in ‘individuality’, i.e. something like being normal without being average.
Expressing your individuality is hard work, particularly if you do not have one. But this obstacle can be overcome; you can buy one.
Those who trade in this commodity are known collectively as ‘the fashion industry’.
Contrary to all evidence, the fashion industry tells us that a shirt is SO MUCH MORE than a garment. It is an expression of the inner self. Possibly not YOUR inner self – but at least someone’s inner self. Likely that someone is better looking, wealthier, and more famous than you. Buy the brand, and those properties will magically trickle down onto you.
All you have to do is say that you bought whatever it is that you are wearing because it ‘spoke to you’. And voila, you are an individual, just like the rest of us.
I don’t grudge people their ‘individuality’, but I lament the effect it has on my photos. Is it too much to ask to take a single image without a screaming neon-coloured garment in it? On the flip side, I ruined their pictures, as much as they did mine.
And they were a friendly lot.
Many of us had sold a kidney and an eyeball to afford the exorbitant rate of the ticket. Common ground is a good start when individuals come together.
Half an hour into the journey, I took this photo along the Urubamba River. This had all the bearings of becoming a good day.
But then the panflute players arrived. This turned out only to be an intermediate purgatory before descending into the real hell of a fashion show.
A few passengers, such as had had their better judgement clouded by altitude-sickness or romance, made expensive purchases. This proved sufficient for the ordeal to come to an end.
Where was I?
Ah, yes: this had all the bearings of becoming a good day…