Wednesday, 12 November 2008

living on the edge of a cloud

When I got up this morning I looked out of my bedroom window and it was beautiful sunny weather and a blue sky. I washed and walked to the living room (on the other side of the house) and it was pouring down. I was living on the edge of a rain cloud. I took a photo of the Rembrandt tower to show the effect. The sky is grey and everything is dark and wet. The sun is shining in the tower's windows.

In the morning I made a quick run to Hartog for bread. I managed to get there and back with only a tiny shower.

sunrise at the rembrandt tower

After lunch it was a lot drier, even though the Met office had forecast rain and thunderstorms for the afternoon. I chanced it and went out for a walk into town. First past the Oosterpark.

tram tracks rejuvenation at oosterpark

Then towards the Amstel hotel. As you can see from the photo there was a wall of rain clouds passing over the city.

amstel seen from hoge sluis

At Frederiksplein I changed my mind; instead of going into town I was going to the zoo. I turned around and walked down Sarphatistraat and left into Roeterstraat. When I tried to make a photo of the street these two girls on bikes appeared in the viewfinder. Just after I took the shot they waved at me. I waved back. It's nice when people acknowledge your existence.

cute girls on bikes

The zoo was strangely quiet. Normally on Wednesdays it is filled with a billion screaming kids who have the afternoon off from school. Maybe their parents kept them home today because of the weather forecast. For me it was nice to be able to walk around without being run over by tiny bicycles with learner wheels.

I arrived at the lion enclosure just after 15:00. That's when they get their lunch. The lioness reminded me of a cat we used to have when I was a kid. She would eat in exactly the same way.

lioness at lunch

I left Artis through the exit at the Aquarium and made my way to Oosterpark.

I spent some time trying to make a photo of the autumn colours, but had to wait a few minutes between shots for the sun to come back and light up the scene. One shot was ruined by an old lady (purple rinse brigade) who saw me standing with the camera on front of my face. She stood right in front of the lens and asked if I wanted to make a photo of her. I told her that I had been waiting for 5 minutes to make a shot of a couple of trees in the right light and that it had just come and gone while she blocked the scene. She pouted and walked away. I waited another 5 minutes and the sun came back again. She didn't. Here's the photo.

oosterpark photo after 15 minutes

I have noticed that 'personal space' is defined differently in different cultures. In some, when you talk face to face, it is perfectly normal to be 'in each other's face'. In other you keep a distance. The Netherlands is in the latter group. We like a bit of space around us. This is immediately noticeable when you walk towards somebody: they go a bit left and you go a bit right and there's some distance when you meet.

Lately people seem to have forgotten how this works. Maybe it's only in my neighbourhood where I am a cultural minority, but I regularly have to jump on the cycle path because people coming towards me don't move over.

I have now made a decision to move out of the way by only a tiny amount. Enough to be noticeable but not enough to avoid collision. If the other party moves slightly as well, I move further. If they don't move, I collide. Boom. Smack. Sorry! Maybe that'll teach them to pay attention to the fact that there are other people on the street too.


Juf Jo said...

I acknowledge your existence Kees ;)
And because im a 1930's lady I don't have to step aside for anyone unless they are old ladies.
I bump into a lot of people, great fun!
Especially when you push yourself onto a underground station platform with some huge suitcase.

Anonymous said...

Your photos cheer me up, thank you Kees!
Vicky !

Nicole said...

My experience in Amsterdam was that hardly anyone moved out of the way. Not even 50%/50%.

The photo at the sluis is just beautiful :)

s g collins said...

my friendly huisbaas expressed the opinion that the not-yielding is strictly an amsterdammer thing. but then we know some amsterdammers (kees being one) who do try to share the footpath. the decision to "only yield just enough to notice" is a fair one, i think i decided that myself back when i lived in the centrum.

visiting the US, i walked on just a few urban sidewalks (beacon hill, back bay etc) and i noticed that people there were naturally inclined to yield and share the way. but i didn't get a comparable sample: most of my time was in places where i couldn't share the sidewalk -- cuz there was no sidewalk and there were no pedestrians at all.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kees, you know I walk a lot through Amsterdam as well. I decided years ago not to be polite anymore and always be the one who steps aside. Many bumps and 4 letter words later, I gave up hope that it has an educational effect. May be because there is two of us now..... there is hope.
Next time when I (not) bump into you, we will show how it should work. Robert Jan

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