Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Outings and Odd Things On Tram 24 (October 13, 2005)

It's been an exciting week, outings and odd things... or so it seems. Monday was a sleepy day, surely a flu of some kind, (no, it's not an age thing). I slept, slept, and then slept again ... maybe it was a growth spurt.

Tuesday was the day I finally met the Canadian expat photographer/writer, living here in Belgium. Her journey to Antwerpen was a long. unexpectedly winding, with our text messaging, while she was en route, reaching a cresendo with a message that the train from Brussels was experiencing 'technical difficulties'. The Belgians are a polite race, so she was a little concerned about the actual translation of 'technical problems' ...

We met in Central Station, the Crystal Palace-like railway station in downtown Antwerpen, and went wandering. Most of you know that I am, occasionally, geographically inept. As it happens, I had been lost in the minutes before meeting her ... wandering into a magazine store, then doing what I did to Diede in Istanbul, and walking out, turning back in the direction I'd just come.

Unfortunately, I got lost after meeting her too. Mortifying ... I was looking for the river, but we were talking ... so I phoned Gert and gave him one or two locaters, and asked where we were. He knew, but by then the Canuck had spotted the Cathedral tower (a mere 123 metres)... so we trotted off to Grote Markt for lunch.

However, it was good day out, much talking, a little beer and a plan to hit the zoo with the cameras next week ... then the world, of course.

Tuesday night was the night of the red wine incident ... a rather nice night, that only needs to be mentioned for my own personal rememberance of a nice Australian wine - that celebratory one.

Wednesday ... due to the excessive nature of the Tuesday night of the wine incident, I moved rather slowly however, I decided that I would feel better if I stepped out into the 20+oC sunshine and kept my usual lunchtime appointment with Gert at the Port.

Good lord ... and thus began the 'Adventures of Tram 24'.

So I was feeling a little bit seedy when I sat down, then the chap in front of me turned round and eyeballed me. I pretended I hadn't seen him, and continued to look at the window in my calm Kiwi way, which was no mean feat, he was definately in my personal space.

That was the first clue that all was not well in his own private world, but I gave him the benefit of a doubt, and imagined he might just be a popular man in the community since he was waving to everyone, but no, he waved at every tram and bus that we passed, and greeted each school child with a strange sounding 'Hello' as they passed by. (School finishes at lunchtime on a Wednesday). He would occasionally let out the most alarming grunts and groans ... which had the students in quiet hysterics... so it was interesting, but not the worst.

The worst arrived in the form of the dreadful old man who had all but taken me by the throat (okay, I'm exaggerating) and asked me to contribute to the little plastic container of money he was shaking in front of me, the last time we'd 'met' on Tram 24. I didn't have the Dutch, he didn't have English, but I only had 1 euro on me that time, and that was my tram ticket home ...

Last time, he had become belligerant and lifted his shirt, and as his big belly spilled out, threatening to engulf me, I noticed it was covered in something like burns ... I believe that was the point he was making.

I was ready this time, and fragile, I whipped my 1 euro out so fast he was stunned and shambled off to harass other passengers.

Lesson ... avoid Tram 24 at 12.30 on a Wednesday.

Lunch was lovely, and Gert suggested I take the scenic walk back to the tram ... hah! Being geographically inept meant that I walked many more miles than were strictly necessary ... he didn't believe the things that I found on my route, and wouldn't believe that I found myself in a pretty square ... okay, so it's true, I didn't follow his directions ... the ones that went something along the lines of only turn left when there's a choice, and keep your shadow behind you'.

It was 4pm before I staggered in the door, rested then realised I felt vaguely purified. I spent the next couple of hours cleaning the apartment, and was such a virtuous wee soul over dinner that night. I do like applause when I work well.

I'm addicted to Eastenders here. I never watched it in New Zealand, then in Turkey all of us expats were slowly caught in its web. Moving countries creates complications you can't imagine ... I might not have come here if I'd known. I missed a large chunk of Eastend life, and Holby City became all but unrecognisable, rotten even. I think there are 3 originals left, and well ... it's just odd and bad now. I just relocated E.R. and Suzanna and Trinny pop up in 'What Not to Wear' every now and again. I spent some time with Oprah ... but I've mostly moved on, but still enjoy BBC and CNN, as per Turkey.

Today ... well I had a guest. The Canuck feels comfortable enough to mock me with 'Was it a real person though?' and I have to confess, while real, I did have to pay him. He'd come in to do the annual check on the heating system in the apartment. He spoke English, and asked me if I came from England. I paid him 53.42 euro and he left after 15 minutes of working on the water heating thingy in the laundry.

I've studied EU politics today, some Syrian news, and researched information about the religion called Alawi. I talked to the Canadian on MSN, and she introduced me to Canadian National Radio online, which is grand although I fear I'll be saying 'aboot' (instead of about) within weeks (which may or may not be considered an improvement on my NZ accent - hush in the cheap seats, Jason Windes).

Does anyone know if NZ's National Radio is online? I've looked and I can't work it out.
Tonight, it's the Shrimp Rissotto by Gert. Yay! And tomorrow ... well, I won't touch that yet, it's material for future mind-bogglingly interesting blogs.

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