I was worried when I arrived and cleared immigration. I was coming from the US, my son from India, and we'd arranged to meet at the airport. He was travelling abroad by himself for the first time. The whole world appeared to have arrived at Schipol that morning, and the lines were long at immigration. (George Bush was going to be visiting the following day, Sunday.)
We found each other, but my son was disappointed with the directions I had sent him. (Whereas I'd thought they were crisp and clever.) Anyway, we stepped out into a rainy morning — I in a suit and no coat, he wearing a thin sweater, also coatless. We shivered while we waited for the shuttle to Crowne Plaza. But we were happy nonetheless, even if we were cold and wet - Yashas was taking in Europe, and I was proud to have him standing tall next to me.
Waiting awaited us at the hotel as well. A lot of Asia was in the lobby: Japanese tourists and Chinese, but no Indians save us. At the reception, they took us in but asked us to check back at three, because no room was yet ready. When I raised my brow, they pointed to all the others waiting. Everyone was sweet and polite, so there was no way I could get annoyed. We went out and bought some outer clothes. And we ate lunch.
That afternoon, we walked in the Leidespleine and Rembrandtspleine, my favourite spots in Amsterdam.
I can walk forever by these canals. There's graffiti everywhere (thanks to indulgent city fathers), and people living on boats with flowers at the windows, and there are litter and unruly people. But that's all right because I feel in sum tremendous positive energy in this city.
An eighty-two-year-old man made this trip to Amsterdam memorable for me, though we met but briefly. I'll see if I can post a few words about him tomorrow.