Back in 2004, a lot of things were changing. I was on my first major trip outside India. I had never stayed away from home for so long so I was just enjoying my loneliness and my freedom. Also I was getting adjusted to my life in quiet Amstelveen (Pronounced as Amstelfeen). From busy every minute life in Mumbai to rarely working life, Netherlands was a huge break to my fast life.
Amstelveen is a quite town just next to Amsterdam. It more of a suburb than a town and mostly consist of upper class and upper middle class people. A quiet town compared to Amsterdam, it was far away from the hustle bustle of the big city even though being close to the big city.
The big ticket to fame for Amstelveen was the India-Pakistan Cricket match on a neutral ground was played in Amsterdamse BOS. It was a time when India-Pakistan rivalry was a high-tension match. It was the time when Pakistan was a better team and India had lost the match. I remember visiting Amsterdam Centraal that day and while coming back saw the dejected faces of Indian fans. I never knew we had so many Indians in Amsterdam.
Anyways I am digressing here.
I stayed at a place called Sportslaan. The reason it was called Sportslaan was because of a huge sports club in the area which was very near to where I stayed. Everyday, I would travel to my work place to Diemen Zuid (pronounced Zoud meaning South). Evening I would start from my workplace at around 4:30 PM and would be home by 5:00 PM. I would get down at Sportslaan and then walk for almost 15 minutes to my home. The metro station was far away from where I lived.
Although far away from the station, I loved that house. It was spacious and aloof even though it was on the 1st floor of a 4 storey apartment. It had a spacious kitchen, a big bathroom with a bath tub, two big bedroom and a big hall that housed our only entertainment source, the TV.
It was the house where I learnt to live alone. I had roomies on and off so most of the time I was alone in the house. It was not until I moved to Vijay’s house 4 months later that I became used to seeing people again in the house.
I am digressing again
I had almost 10 Indians in my project and most of them were there for the first time. An onsite stint gave us the opportunity to make a lot of saving. So it was no surprise that many of my colleagues preferred to stay at home on weekend than move out. The gloomy unpredictable climate of Netherlands was another reason to stay indoors.
My first roomy in that house, Hari did not believe in the above just like me. We wanted to make full use of the opportunity and explored the city and the country to the fullest.
I went for my first digital camera with him. It was a Sony Cybershot P73. Those three months, I took a lot of pictures with that camera and that was the only time I took that camera was used. When I came to India on a short trip, I gave that camera to my brother and when I came back 3 years later, it didn’t work.
I am digressing again
So, when Hari left after a month, I was left alone in the house. Although the weekdays were spent in the office and cooking experiments, weekends were boring. My other colleagues were still not ready to move out giving reasons like cold weather. The next week, I put the camera in the bag and was out on the streets of Amsterdam. I roamed the streets alone, tiring myself. After two weeks, I knew almost all the roads in Amsterdam Centraal and knew most shops there.
I took the city, the country and the culture in me.
I was way off the topic I wanted to write but memories are a funny thing. Once you find a path, you realize a lot many roads from there.