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Published: February 11th 2011
Well it has been an interesting week, I’ll tell you that much.
I had a bit of a late start. Eventually I reared my morning-face out of the depths of the multiple layers of sheets I habituate nightly. The aim on Monday was to obtain my BSN (social-security/ ID) number. It turned out that I needed a birth certificate, parental birth details and a whole lot of other info; which I now had in my possession due to the interwebnet. I stumbled down for breakfast only to find out I didn’t need any of that. Rene had phoned the Belastingsdienst buildings in Eindhoven. He’d found a way for me to just show my passport and proof of residence and thereby obtain a BSN number. Wednesday morning bright and early I had to be in Eindhoven. The rest of Tuesday then became a lovely lazy-day. I cycled through the forest and explored my surroundings. Internet admin was done and I even sneaked in a movie; Hachiko – the doggy sob-story. Urgh, wrong choice of movie as nostalgia reared its head and so did the lump in my throat. I do not recommend you watch it if you are
missing anything in your life at that moment. Especially a dog to run through the forest with. Awe, Joey 😉
I filled the afternoon with drawing, emails the movie and general quiet demeanour. Wednesday was going to be an exciting day and after a glass of either port or sherry I headed for the sheets and some old-English pages filled by Edgar Allan Poe.
The cycle Wednesday morning was rather daunting and into unexplored territory. I got ‘lost’ on a bit of a back-route around Eindhoven, but this was mainly not knowing which cycle lanes went where, when you’re allowed to cycle on the other side of the road and due to the map’s scale being so blerrie big and going waaaay too far sometimes.
I eventually made it to what I thought was the correct building. I locked up my bike with two different locks and went nose-first into the automatic-doors. (Un)Luckily my nose also went into the map showing the route to the other side of the premises where the new entrance was. After unlocking the various theft-preventative mechanisms on my bike, gathering my ego and skulking away from the laughing office-folk
I made it to the correct entrance and proceeded to the reception desk. I stated my name to the wonderfully-cheerful (naaaaaaat) lady behind the desk and it was curtly explained to me that my appointment was a falsehood. It was then further explained that I couldn’t just walk in and expect an audience with those even more cheery-looking (again, naaaaat) people in the booths. A mixture of anger, confusion and cold greeted me as I exited the building with the number I was supposed to call for bookings. I called the head-office number and asked them to log-in to the Eindhoven system and see if I had an appointment; I clicked when she asked for my address. After thanking the nicest-sounding person I’d heard all day I hung up, walked inside, looked at the lady and said my address. “Oh yes, here it is, with your name and ‘BSN-appointment’ description underneath,” she said. Grrrr.
I finally sorted out all that jazz and emerged with the semi-completion of an E. A. Poe short-story and my full BSN number. Yusss. I cycled around the corner and took some photos in the park. The rest of the day composed of wandering around
Eindhoven exploring more of the unexplored. My confidence is growing and grannies hardly overtake me nowadays whilst cycling. I entered massive 5-storey stores such as the Bijenkorf and V&D. The few coins I had at my disposable were burning a hole in my pocket and were starting to enter into my thigh. I gave in and bought myself a broodje-kroket from a very old-school machine in a deli. The contraption which houses this tasty delight can be described as a series of tiny windows about 5 columns wide and 10 rows down; each window with its own coin slot. Giving in to desire and putting a coin in this slot lets you pull down a handle, opening up the window behind wherein lies your delectable choice. Eventually, like a proper tourist, I stood in wonder and with a smile as I clasped my lunch. Along with the sandwich I made at home, and my book, this obvious foreigner placed himself in the middle of the Eindhoven-plein in the smallest smidgeon of sun. I finally finished my short-story and had by that time successfully ensured approximately a 5-meter radius of no other living being. I think it was the combination of
laughing, kroket-slurping (simultaneously) and cross-legged sitting that did me in.
After I’d removed myself from what now looked like a kroket war-ground I managed to find some decent work-shoes for a good price. There as some sick, sick shoes here and I can’t wait to earn a bit. Sorry Mum and Dad, but I’ve seen exactly where my first pay-check is going. I walked the aisles of this particular store trying every pair and eventually told the nice shoe-lady to keep a box in the back for me. If they didn’t feel nice I could return them within two weeks. I’d pick them up Friday on my way through again.
I stopped off on the way home in Waalre to pick up an el-cheapo (yet tasty, said Opa) wine for my dinner with A&A that evening. My adventures through the forest on Tuesday came in use as I recognized certain spots along the way; always explore!! I did some skating in the sun, getting some mad-speed down this one speed-hump. It’s a las to walk up it every time though…
Dinner that evening with A&A was fantastic. We chatted and drank and chatted some more. It’s really
nice to be able to have face-to-face chats here with people I usually only hear over the phone, accompanied by highly-annoying echo for overseas calls. The cycle home in the dark was also something new and I got to use the gyro-light on the front of the bike for the first time; very exciting stuff.
In the morning I accompanied Opa and Oma to Valkenswaard for an adventure. We visited a few shops for the particulars; biscuits from HEMA, wine from Gall&Gall and a delicious cappuccino from De Oranje. A-cappu-nying (see what I did there!) the cappuccino was a shot of liqueur topped with cream and a small éclair-ball of more cream. Eish, this was a place to remember! We headed back home in the dreary weather and I looked forward to an evening of Volleyball, yes volleyball. Paul Guit, Rene’s (my uncle) brother, invited me along on the Saturday of Daniel’s birthday. I enthusiastically agreed to tag along with the men’s second-league team as I thought it was a great way to meet people and get involved in the community.
After watching a movie, doing some post, munching down another delicious supper and enjoying
a Spanish wine I headed for the local sports-hall. Little did I know what lay in store for me. I was thrust into practice along with the men’s second-team and had, actually, a load of fun. Never having played volleyball in my life naturally some of the basics still have to be refined. When I stopped using my crotch, head, chest, feet and face to hit the ball I got into the groove and even managed to score a few points! I didn’t stay for after-match beers as I had an early start the next day. I went home with a bruised-hand but boosted ego. I have a week to heal and look forward to getting rid of some energy next Thursday.
I had a long cycle ahead of me today to meet with a man also involved with one of the placement-companies I was signed in to. Phillip stays in Antonie-moro straat on the ooootherside of Eindhoven. I left nice and early and managed just-fine to make my way through the bustling back-roads. It was actually due to my wrong-turning on Wednesday that I recognized a part of the city and felt more confident than
I otherwise would have; always explore!!
Had a great chat with Phillip about the Horeca industry and how it all works. I made a good first impression by buying some ‘frites’ (slap-chips) for the kid’s lunch as they’d just arrived back from school. After an hour of coffee, music, Horeca and reminiscing I bid adieu and made my way into central Eindhoven. Guess what, only used the map once!
I bought my shoes and started to make my way home. Sticking around Eindhoven in the rain seemed like a boring idea, and cycling back home was actually not that bad. I even found a gardening-glove that I can maybe put a puck on an skate with. Tonight I cooked for O&O; a butter-chicken curry accompanied by a wine out of Chile I told Opa to choose and try out. Friday night seems to be the movie-night for now, but I think I’ll drop Patrick a mail and maybe go for a beer tomorrow. I’m content to sit here and sip my Amstel beer and watch Nicolas cage go through Bangkok, poking his long nose into some danger.
The Dutch as a whole? Well what I’ve noticed so far
is that everything has got to happen quick-quick. A very impatient society with teenagers gulping down energy drinks and the girls looking far too old for their age. Today I stared in amazement at what I swear was a 10-year old girl smoking and applying more mascara at the same time; what multi-tasking. I’m reading the weather better; dark and cloudy = rain sometime. It’s also been fun slipping into O&O’s daily routines and being woken up by the blasting of classical music and receiving a morning tea. Oma’s tummy-grumbles elevate towards the mid-morning coffee and by afternoon tea Opa is behind the Sudoku thinking of his favourite yoghurt he’ll devour that evening after supper.
These days my scarf is looser, head is bare and the gloves have come off, literally. I still wear plenty of layers around the chest area, what do you expect? Flip man, I’m still a skinny South African.
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