Measured Extravagance

06 March 2002 - 11:53 p.m.

On the train back from Rotterdam, I was asked if I lived in Amsterdam. Granted, it was from an Argentinian food industry executive who had just arrived from England and had no clue where the Terdam hotel or the red light district was, but still - one of the things I have noticed on my visits to here and to the UK is that people are more likely than back in my home country to assume I might be a native.

(I know I don't belong anywhere, but it's still thrilling, these moments when the impersonation works.)

Today, Schielandhuis (lovely blue velvet walls) and walking around with my friend Antoine and talking politics and culture with her and her twin sister. Drinking shots of very oude jenever (Dutch gin) at a local pub and eating a raw herring with onions the proper Dutch way (hold tail up, drop down in mouth, munch blissfully away). Antoine's presence guaranteed that the fishmonger gave us the freshest herring. Yum! Yesterday evening, rijstafel at Long Pura (major props to Ana for this and much other useful advice) and a walk through the walletjes before finishing the evening with bessenjenever at a Spuistraat bar. Yesterday afternoon, Rembrandthuis and the Amstel area and Chinatown. Found the Buddhist temple and lit two sticks of incense (and a candle at the Passengai while strolling through Kalverstraat in the morning), one for my father (he converted to Christianity the month before he died, but to me, the incense-lighting will always feel more fitting than any other tribute). Very helpful, friendly staff at Absolute Danny's (the security tags were in the way of the last hole of the handcuff buckles). Chocolate and gumdrops at Leonidas and pastries from Chinatown. More bessenjenever while waiting for people...

Not enough time to see everything, of course - constantly revising the list of want-to-sees to what I *can* see and what I honestly want to see (as opposed to what I've been told I should see)(and hear, and taste). So I'll just have to come back again someday...

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