May 25, 2009

Day 6 : Sun washed landscapes

The day was unexpectedly cool and we walked out of the hotel looking for something to eat. We had to settle for a warm cheese bread of sorts enough to fortify us in our quest for the bus stop. The funniest moment was when a south asian looking man couldn't respond to us in English (obviously he spoke dutch) but was able to give us the direction in broken Hindi.

After some discussion, due to the weather we decided someplace indoors was a good idea. We arrived at Van Gogh museum as the lines were beginning to form outside. We were ushered in, on time to hear the announcements there was a special show of some select paintings that had come from New York.

The way Van Gogh's name is pronounced is very different from what I was used to and became an amusing pastime to practice the guttural sounds until we got the tickets and walked in.

I had read some where Van Gogh's paintings on starry nights invoked a sense of peace - on the contrary I felt (more so of the starry night above the sleepy town than the starry night over the Rhone) to be disturbing. I found the twirls and circles more indicative of a sleepless turmoil filled night than peace. There must be something wrong with me. Kandinsky's supposedly depressing picture makes me feel better and this one makes me disturbed.

It was not the colors of the night that attracted me, it was the sun washed fields that had me spellbound. The golden sun sometimes bright in its late afternoon might, sometimes casting long shadows over the wheat fields, sometimes behind a mild cloudy screen - I could simply not move away. The light and the warmth of the colors!

It was quite draining to go to any other place after the morning in the museum. We wandered a while and then came to the canal cruise and decided to take it. Amsterdam had more canals than Venice they announced on the system and stopped at a view point of multiple bridges and everyone dutifully clicked pictures. Tourists!

The Canal ride had many worthy sights including Anne Frank's house but it was the maritime museum that caught my attention. Circa 1750, I thought as the cruise brought us to the sea, this would have been filled with ships from the Dutch East India Company. Did they talk over a drink talk about the Dutch defeat in the hands of Marthanda Varma? I idly wondered the whatif scenarios - would I be blogging in Dutch if not for Robert Clive. I figured not, it would have been French.

It was a cool day and I could only think of Betty Neels sitting on that boat, remembering the various cliched scenes from her romance novels of the heroine walking on one of these small alleys comes upon a magnificent house or should I simply say mansion and finds that the hero lives there.

After the cruise we went looking for lunch and came upon a square with many shops. A giant chess board painted on the floor with many life size pieces caught our attention and we watched a game for sometime. Afterwards we dragged ourselves to a noodle bar and had leisurely lunch.

It was getting somewhat cold by then but not wanting to miss a stroll in the park we went to Vondelpark. We spent a leisurely hour strolling about, sitting by the pond, listening to a guitarist play, taking pictures. I vaguely felt I ought to retire stay in a place like this and paint pictures and day dream.

We had burgers and juice and spent some time shopping for books and music. I spied a shop that said magic mushroom and considered the idea for a couple of minutes but decided the rest of the party was too straitlaced for that. I made a mental note to look up the effects of such a permissible society. Prostitutes will have to undergo a psychiatric consultation before they get the license the morning paper had had a news item. Does the ability to monitor and regulate control or bring down illegal trafficking? I am sure there is enough debate in the internet.

Tired by now, we came back to the hotel. NT my colleague invited us for dinner and we went with much alacrity thrilled that GT, his wife had made us Rice, Sambar and all other Indian goodies. On the way we stopped by the lake, calm and peaceful.

I bemoaned the loss of such wide open spaces with so much water in my part of the world as I slept fitfully that evening.

May 25, 2009