Friday, June 22, 2007


24th May/07

On the night of 23rd may my life had a historical moment. It didn’t come with applause or fame attached to it. But it had years and years of dreaming, reading, watching movies and listening to music behind it. And all of that was packed in to a backpack by my feet.

I was headed to Europe. To see what they did with all the spices they took from us.

The visa process was smooth. The Netherlands embassy along with Belgium has a collection office in bangalore now. If all your papers are in order it shouldn’t take more than three days. A definitive sign that our country is cruising at a decent knot on the progress channel.

The air france flight was uneventfull. Some forgetfull food, two glasses of wine and some forgetful movie later we landed at Charles de gaulle airport in paris. I had my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower from air. And a lovely cloudless view of paris laid out in almost concentric circles, sliced further in to cute cake wedges. The seine cutting across peacefully. I have never seen a sight like this before in my life of course. The topography and architecture of the various cities and countries I have visited, the view when you come in to land still has a loose resemblence to some other city you’ve been to. But coming in to land at paris is a breathtaking sight of European ingenious town planning from ages back and the splendor of French architecture.

But I was in transit for a further flight to Amsterdam to meet sanne’s parents and kickstart my holiday from Holland. We had barely an hour to catch the connecting flight. Sanne went through the EU channel for the passport check and I was in a long que for the “rest of the world”. But for all the French ingenuity this channel was manned only by one person! And three other flights arrived in quick succession with ours. Of course as expected we missed our flight cause the polizie blond dub took his time inspecting the passports. But I must say there was no reason to fret cause of course they had a counter for “missed flight” people! So we just stood in a lil que and after showing our flight tickets we were issued new ones to the next flight to Amsterdam in 40 minutes.

While sanne was being sanne freaking out a bit cause she couldn’t find a place to call her parents I took in the beautiful architecture of the airport. It forms a criss crossing net of steel and glass creating a feeling that you are inside the belly of some giant fish, the crisscrossing steel ribs creating diamond shaped glasses forming the illusion of fish scales. Oh and here are a couple of interesting things about the airport. Seen the movie “the terminal”? On 26 August 1988, Merhan Karimi Nasseri found himself held at Charles de Gaulle airport by immigration. He claimed he was a refugee, but had had his refugee papers stolen. After years of bureaucratic wrangling, it was concluded that Nasseri had entered the airport legally and could not be expelled from its walls; but since he had no papers, there was no country to deport him to either, leaving him in residential limbo. Nasseri continued to live within the confines of the airport until August 2006, even though French authorities have since made it possible for him to leave if he so wished. He was the inspiration for the film The Terminal. He was hospitalised in August 2006 and his current location is unknown.
Another tidbit for designers and typographers, the typeface frutiger was commissioned as the official typeface of the airport.

We arrived in Schipol, Amsterdam to discover that our luggage had decided to stay back a couple of days in paris to… well take in the sights I assume. Blah de blah de blah…. after an hour long wait in a que to report the luggage missing we were assured we would hear from them by late evening and we would have our luggage probably in a day delivered by courier.

So there we were, finally out of the airport. Sanne’s parents were there to pick us up for the ride to zutphen, where they live.

Hello Holland!

So there we were crusing along on the highway at about 120 with the GPS chick babbling instructions at us which sounded to me like “now turna fifty links” and “neenge route breakening” when we pull up behind another car in lane two of a 4 lane road. There is hardly any traffic. To my left is another neat line of cars and trucks as well. And to my right is a lane that has smooth running traffic and another one after that which has no traffic at all. At this point when I am mulling over why we have stopped I am informed, “traffic jam!!”. So I say the only thing you can say at moments like this, “where?”. Jan points directly in front of him through the glass of the SUV at a neat line of cars and says, “there.” Well HELLO!!! Have you looked to your left where the cars are moving along OR to your right where the lane is half empty and that other lane beyond that is like positively deserted!!!!

Upon having posed this question as delicately as I could to them I am patiently informed, that you can not cut to your left cause the traffic is moving along at only a slightly faster pace than ours and you don’t do that cause it is not good road manners, and the lane to my right curves some 300 meters!!(time to overtake the traffic twice you would think) up front to another town. Aaaand the lane after that is only for cop cars or ambulances and to be used by the gentry only in case of extreme emergency! Oh! And the same goes for honking. Only in dire situations. Like an elk on the road.

Sanne’s parents live almost on the border of two quaint little village/towns, zutphen and brummen. Pronounced zutpha and brumma. But lets not get in to a dutch language course, at best it sounds like someone might need a Heimlich maneuver soon. More on that later.

Their house is typical dutch old world architecture. In fact most if not all the houses across little towns and villages have roughly the same philosophy behind its architecture. It is basically an inverted “V”, with the stalks of the V straightening out a few feet before the ground. It is cute, it is quaint and very fetching with a garden in front and back. I was introduced to their horse, eidelweiss and their smartypants of a cat, titia.

Dinner was at 7. For my benefit. Otherwise dinner is at 5 30. Did I hear someone say that’s teatime?? Sorry old chap, but we do have coffee after dinner if you like. It was lovely sitting out in the garden, tucking in to warm food and having a beer. The air crisp and clear. The air fresh. The only sound the rustling of the leaves and the occasional snort from the horse.

After dinner me and sanne took a ride down to the city center of Zutphen. A few minutes ride by car. One of the oldest cities in the country, it has a rich history and is quaint in an almost fairytale kind of way. Cobblestoned streets, an ancient church and an old castle with a spire that can be seen across the city. Oh and in this old castle lives sannes’s childhood friend laura! Yeah! In the freakin castle!! Apparently the city council picks a person every few years from applicants in the town who can live in this landmark of the town. So a quick visit to the coffeshop( all that you have heard is true!!!) to stock up for “Pinkpop”, a three day camping concert in landgraf where we were heading in a day and a visit to see the lady in the castle and we were back home to catch 40 winks before a day of sightseeing and then off to pinkpop!!!!


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