Saturday, December 31, 2011

Amsterdam.. Here I Come!!!

Sorry to keep you waiting, if you were actually waiting for the Amsterdam part to begin. Let me not take your time and come straight to the point.
Yes, the very next morning I and Ma woke up 5 in the morning to view the first day at a distant land. Well, it was a simple view but very neat and clean. A small green lane with a little space left for three cars to park below the pine tree. Yes! A real huge big pine tree, I don’t remember the last time when I saw this tree, apart from Ma’s craze to decorate its fruits in the drawing room. I couldn’t go back to sleep because as the Indian timing says it was already ten in the morning. I hate jet lag!!

View from Didi's hous
 I don’t remember what I did after that. At 2 p.m. maybe or after that, I remember buckling myself tight and sitting beside my Didi, who was driving her Volkswagen to get Sayanda from office. Initially I was afraid to ride with her, but by the end of the tour I must confess, she is good at driving, though parking gives her trouble at times. 

Ma and Didi waiting for the train to arrive

Anyway, we packed our bags and ran off to the nearest railway station, which was only 10 minutes away. And from Kassel we started our journey to Amsterdam  and reached our destination by night.

The hotel was very cozy and the view from the window was awesome, which we saw the very next day when we woke up, once again 5 am in the morning. To be more specific, though we landed in Germany but the first real look of a foreign land was Amsterdam. I wish I had taken the picture; it’s all in my mind now.

Day 1: The great guide Sayanda as planned; we would be visiting the world famous Tulip Garden at Keukenhof. My Indian friends would recognize the place very fast if I name a few movies… remember the Bollywood song of  the movie Silsilah “Yeh kaha a gaye hum” or may be “ Dil ne yeh kaha hain dil se” of the movie, Dhadkan. The layers of yellow, red, pink that went down the hill, yes that is the place I went in and I witnessed a beauty, a nature, the green smell that will last forever. I felt at certain point of time, the greatest fashion designer in the world is the creator.  She knows (it must be a women, she knows how to leverage beauty after all) where and how to decorate same thing but with a different cover. 

Tulip Garden at Keukenhof
But many know, my patience burns out easily and after watching the tulips for hours I felt like I needed a break now. However, Keukenhof was no doubt beautiful and a balm to the eyes and mind.

We came back to Amsterdam and didn’t wasted time and we were out again to visit the world famous Red Light Area. Yes it actually means what it says. I knew about this place as a friend told me but my firsthand experience was “kan ta gorom hoye gelo”, in English “embarrassing”.  There were prostitutes all over the place bargaining for the clients. But gradually, things soothed and the funniest part was people come here to visit even holding the hands of their child. Surprised huh!! So was I. 

Blown with the wind
Day 2: We visited a cheese factory and enjoyed the ambiance, looking eagerly at the 500 years old windmills, still working. Oh and those famous wooden shoes with a special demonstration about why and how they are made. Usually, the farmers put those on and work on their field so that their leather shoes don’t get dirty or wet. Woohoo cool na.

Ok, now when you are in Amsterdam and if you have not taken a ride through those wonderful canals, hey are you kidding me! We did that too and had enjoyed the wonderful tour throughout the city waving hands to unknown and they wave back, amazing (in India you do that, people would think you gone crazy). Every building got a lever at the top to pull up stuffs inside the houses because the entrances are really small and at the same time all of them share their walls with their neighboring buildings. We saw the 1 meter house can you believe it and people live in there. Finally the sun sets at 9 and the rush still in the road says evening hasn’t ended yet. But we went back to our hotel to get back the energy for the next day trip.

Ride along the canal

Sayanda and Didi in front of the one meter house


Day 3: A very happening day, we visited some of the world famous museums like the Rijksmuseum and watched some of the jaw dropping paintings. Oh I can still see those in front of my eyes. Every painting speaks, has its own grace and shows the passion of the painter. Some of them even left their resemblance. I came to know about Vincent Van Gogh. An artist who was under so much mental pressure that he cut off his ear and even drew a picture of himself and it is a very famous one. That moment I realized Don Mclean has sung the song “Vincent” for this man and right then I really understood the meaning of the whole song. We visited Rembrandt’s house and was taken aback with his senses. A man was demonstrating a technique that has been specially designed by Rembrandt to take out photocopies of his painting or to add some more designs to it. I was really thrilled and thank god my face showed it to the demonstrator who gifted me one of his demonstrations of Rembrandt’s work. My mind said out loud “Bingo, treasure!” 

An excellent work of Vincent Van Gogh
Kudos to Rembrandt

There was so much to see and learn but we needed to leave as our next stop was Anna Frank’s house.

Yes the very girl who was hiding in a small room and wrote the brutality about Nazi exploitation in a diary known to the world as “Anna Frank’s Diary”. Each and every moment that she has encountered was being played on a tape throughout the house. Every wall bears the testimony to her fear and the impending Holocaust that was about to occur. I suddenly found something warm on my cheeks, silent tears was actually rolling down my eye, I couldn’t stop it.  There was a cupboard with a collection of all those translated version of Anna Frank’s Diary and I suddenly felt proud to see one of the translated versions was in Bengali, my mother tongue. None of us were speaking much, things happened years back but the ingrained pain will last forever, may be some day people would realize you don’t win anything by killing those innocents. 
Anna Frank Museum
The trip to Amsterdam came to an end as we moved on to our next destination Denmark on that very day on a late night train. Everyone dozed off and as I look outside the window with heavy eyelids I felt, 

 So much to see and learn, so much happiness and pain that burns                      
They become a part of history, some we know, some remains unturned.