Saturday, March 30, 2013


I just entered the train and am about to sit down. When I take of my coat to get ready for the ride home, I hear someone mumbling behind me. At first, I think the grimy voice is accompanying the middle-aged woman on the other side of the aisle. He asks her loudly if this train is going to The Hague. She hesitantly answers with a nod and then turns her back to him.
As the train slowly begin to move I listen, partly involuntarily, to his monologue:

"My mitts are freezing man.
When I get home, I have to take my medicine. I totally forgot to take them.
I went to buy a ticket. Costed me three euro. And now they don't check them. But I still had to pay three euro.
I borrowd a tenner from my daughter.
Freezing mitts daddy.
Is this the train to The Hague?
My mitts are freezing.

This and that and so and so.
Where are we? Delft. Oh, Delft. I lived in Delft for twenty-five years. Now I live in The Hague for eight. But I grew up in Delft. Does this train stop at Holland Spoor or at the other station?

Last week, I scammed a ride on the train, but it still costed me money. This is where my daughter lived. But now she lives in Zoetermeer.

My phone is at home. My phone is at home.
My phone. Is at home.
I have to call my daughter soon though. I have four children, and seven grandchildren.
And I love all seven of them.
I have to remember to take my medicine.

Where are we now? We're still not in The Hague, right? This looks familiar.
My mitts are still freezing."

The announcer calls for the next station: The Hague Holland Spoor.

"Ah, that's my stop. Holland Spoor. That's where I have to get out."

As he get's up and gathers his stuff, I carefully look behind me, to see who this voice belongs? He's in his late fifties, long grey hair, and has very bad breath.
As he walks to the train doors, he keeps talking. The other people around him look at each other and smile apologetically to their fellow passengers. although we listened to his monologue involuntary, we whisper to each other that it must be a hard life to live.
I just hope he feel's warm soon.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Time is a strange concept when you're traveling. At some point, you forget what day and date it is and feel detached from the rest of the world, that is defined by an ever continuing ticking clock.

On the other hand, time is the only thing that determines your trip. In the morning, there's check-out time. Then it takes time to travel to your next destination, and you normally take more time to actually get there, including breaks. Because when you're traveling, it's always time for a break: a coffee break, lunch break, toilet break. And of course, you want to arrive somewhere in time, so you have time for dinner and a nice evening. The next day, it starts all over again.

Then there's the time difference. Eleven years ago, I still had to calculate whether it was the right time to call home, now, receiving replies on emails arrive a lot later than they usually do (eleven years ago, email didn't function like a conversation like it does now, it was more like writing a letter, you didn't mind the wait).

And it has gotten worse. Thanks to wifi, you're online and available everywhere. The only problem in New Zealand is that the internet still comes from Australia and therefor is so expensive that you have to purchase time limited internet access.

So if, after a relaxed day that was actually determined by time, you want to get in touch with home, taking the time difference in account, you are also dependent on the 30, 60 or 120 minutes that you purchased for a lot of money. And then, the people at home have to be there and have to have time to talk, chat or reply your email.

It's not easy to be a world traveler.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Driving in foreign country is always an adventure. Last summer, I violently touched a deer, when I was driving through the States, which damaged the car in such a bad way that a poor guy had to drive up for four hours to replace it. The deer apparently survived, because it was nowhere to be seen.

On the other side of the world, where it is already an adventure to drive on the wrong - or right (though left) side, the roads are paved with small animals that are united with the tarmac in different heights. Besides the fact that they take many forms while dying - long and stretched or small and round, there are also an awful lot of different kinds: white butterflies, little round birds, stretched out mice, opossums or other rodents.
As a true vegetarian, I'm always afraid of these kinds of accidents, I prefer to refrain from any animal suffering whatsoever. However, the number of stupid birds that scarcely escaped the destructive effects of my tires is huge and sometimes the situation demands for the sacrifice of a bird instead of a human - that's obvious of course.

But every time there's a little pile of animal on the road and I drive along or over upright legs, tails or wings in an almost casual way, I wonder how 'mankind' got to be so superior? What makes us better than these animals, and why aren't we bothered by their deaths? We travel to the other side of the world because only there we can find pure nature, we try our best to take pictures without any proof of human action ("too bad of that lamppost", "hey, why didn't they put that fence just a little to the right?", "ugh, that stupid farm ruins my photo"), but we only shrug when we pass the hundreds of lives that once were. Of course, I realize that with all the misery in this world, roadkill in New Zealand will score low on the list - they still had a great life before they met my car. But still. But still. But still, I wonder every time again.