At the crossing, at the end of the
street, I saw a tram arriving at it's stop. I knew now where I was
and it would be quite a walk to reach an area that I liked better...
Why not, I thought and picked up my speed. Not too much... there's a
tram in the direction of the station every couple of minutes, so
there's no point in running like mad to catch a tram. The driver
however patiently waited and let me hop on. I thanked him and took a
seat. I didn't even check the line number. “Second stop” I said
to myself. “No matter what stop it is, I'll get out and continue my
impro tour of Amsterdam.”
I felt a bit disappointed when I found
myself at the Leidseplein, but this time I stuck to my plan. This
square is always humming with activity and completely surrounded by
large cafes and restaurants. All too obvious, not the kind of small
adventures that I'm looking for. I left the square as quickly as I
could, taking one of the smaller streets.
had left the park, so I was entitled to my cup of coffee, but it
wouldn't be in this street I concluded. It held only restaurants
offering food from all corners of the world. Japanese, Brazilian,
Argentinian and a multitude of supposedly Italian restaurants. It was
just after three, but they were all beginning to serve warm meals on
the tiny narrow terraces.
Waiters were standing outside, watching people walk by. I guess they
are supposed to attract customers, a custom I never understood. The
ready-made look is more appalling than welcoming to me.
stomach reminded me that I had taken a tiny and early lunch. Maybe I
should look for a restaurant that still served pistolets or
sandwiches. After having checked out some of the menu's, this idea
was given up. For this street anyway. As I walked on I tried to
recall which streets on my way to the station could have one of those
typical “brown cafes” that would serve just those items.
the corner of my eye, I noticed a pair of dark brown ones. They
belonged to a waiter of yet another Italian restaurant. I wanted to
ignore his look, but he didn't let go, he asked me a question with
his eyes... I shrugged to tell him no. He shrugged too. “Have it
your way” it said. What was happening here? We were having a private
conversation, no matter how short. I slowed down. Halted. And turned.
“Why not?” I thought and asked if he could serve lunch for, while being pretty sure it wasn't on the menu. He said I could and invited me in. Presenting me the dinner menu.... it took some explaining in broken english on both our sides before I finally got what I wanted: an off the menu lunch, befitting someone who likes to stay off route in her life whenever she can. Life's a journey, not a guided tour right? After a great lunch... big enough for dinner... it was time to pay up. This time comes always, whether stay on or off the menu. The risk of off the menu meals is... you don't know how much you will be charged. But at this restaurant,Porto Carrara, they were real modest, more than fair. I was prepared to give my kingdom for such delicious capuccino's. Yet I had to pay even less than ten euro! NonchalantIy I drew my bank card from my wallet. I only carry enough cash with me to pay for the use of a toilet. Emergency money. I saw the boss frown at the waiter. I couldn't pay by bank card, the waiter explained. I waved my credit cardquestioningly. The men shook their heads. "Is there a cash machine nearby?" I replied. "And then you'll come back to pay?" the waiter completed my plan. Of course, that's how we do things in the small town I live in. He nodded in agreement and explained to his boss. But this man frowned even worse. Started an argument about me leaving behind my identity card -or was it some other card?- In a language that was definitely not italian. The outcome was that the waiter walked with me to the cash machine. It was still early, no customers besides me, so he could be spared. While we walked the length of the narrow street, the waiter, greeting a great number of colleagues at other restaurants, shrugged. "My boss wanted you to leave your credit card with him." The waiter was against such distrust and had talked his boss out of it. "So stupid," he went on shaking his head, "taking no risk over such a small amount of money." "You're right." I gave a short laugh. "When you don't take risks, you rob yourself of good experiences." The owner of the restaurant had just robbed himself of experiencing the honesty of another human being. He didn't believe in honesty and missed out on proving himself wrong. The waiter, Bruno, nodded agreeing wholeheartedly. He didn't need my explanation. He had taken risks: he came from eastern europe a month ago to start over in my country. Already knew a lot of people who were obviously fond of him. He drew customers to the restaurant by breaking the rules: daring to go off the menu.
The owner had eyes that watched... making sure he wouldn't get hurt. Shutting out life. Bruno, his waiter, had eyes that see. They saw me walking by and recognised me as a fellow rule breaker. We communicated without words, got to know bits of eachother and had one of life's small adventures. The positve experience of meeting Trust and Honesty.
Trust and Honesty... they go off the menu too you know. They are rule breakers themselves!
I went to Amsterdam two days ago, to
escape the four walls that I have spent so many hours in this summer.
Because the rain doesn't seem to take an end. I craved to see people,
meet strangers. So I took off for Amsterdam, the city with the most
diverse collection of people, the city of silliness, tolerance and
humor. And creative thinking. I've spent several hours in the center
with it's buzzing shops and cozy cafes and went home with fresh
Today I had to go to 'Mokum'
again, for manual therapy. Normally, I turn a visit to my MT into a
day out, tasting this bustling city. But since I had already been
transgressing two days before, I told myself not to do so today. I
made myself swear a vow to go home straight after my visit to the MT.
So... after I closed the door of the
physical therapy center behind my repaired back, I set out for the nearest tram stop, simply glad the rain had finally come to an end. I honestly meant to take the tram to Central
Station. Yet... a side street was beckoning me with a row of beautiful
'brownstones' and an unpredictable bend. [Vondelstraat]
'Remember your promise' I
told myself. 'Stop being so priggish.' was the reply. And my feet
chose the side street. My back wanted to try out it's new
[com]position and urged them on.
I like old houses. I like them so
much that I chose to follow the street and not go into the park
through it's entrance between the well cared for brownstones. I could
hear the high trees of the park, behind the row of houses, anyway.
There was a strong wind making them sound like the sea. Beautiful,
this sound in the midst of a city. Sea sounds and singing birds. An
unexpected gift I accepted gratefully.
My jaw only dropped once, when I
reached the end of the street. The bend was a 180° turn... I found
myself standing at Overtoom, with right across the street the MT's
place. OK, off for the tram stop again. And once more... a side way,
lined with old townhouses. This one turned … out to be a dead end
street. I had no choice but to enter the park. It's just the
Vondelpark I thought and shrugged. A tiny detour.
I've only ever seen a small part
of the park. Thought that that was the entire thing. Today I
discovered the park is huge. I got lost. But that couldn't disquiet
my happiness. I was seeing a part of Amsterdam I had never seen
before. I was enjoying the kaleidoscope of people. Tourists feeding
pigeons, joggers, people on bicycles - old ones, rented ones- ,
tourists kissing, locals walking their dog, hard workers checking the
stage for an upcoming concert...
walked and walked, the sound of traffic getting closer. I passed
untypical for me, decided to leave the park before stopping for a
drink. Just at that moment a group of tourists stopped me. The young
man was holding a workbook with some loose papers and a pen. He
gestured for me to take them. One of the younger women asked me
whether I was dutch. “Yes” I admitted, “but I'm no from
Amsterdam”. The older woman cut in. I had taken the others for
eastern Europe, maybe middle east, this woman had Asian, or maybe
south American, cheekbones. An odd couple, but nice looking an
friendly. In English the older woman explained that they were doing a
'quiz tour' . The questions were in Dutch, and the answers had to be Dutch too. Could I please write down the answer for them...
I took a look at the paper. The
question referred to a statue and it was to be described on several
dotted lines. The three quiz tour-ists pointed a little further away
from us. I saw a ring of people, more tour-ists, and peeping over
them the pale grey stone eyes of a girl with pale grey hair. The statue in question.
I grinned awkwardly and tried to
hand back the pad and paper. I didn't feel like doing their thinking
for them. I was about to suggest they'd ignore the rule of answering
in Dutch and write down the answer by themselves as an idea came
up...why not interview those who asked me?
don't you just describe the statue and I'll translate for you.”
After all, I work as freelance translator
idea was accepted unanimously. I could hear a multivoiced “I see a
naked lady”, “the lady is naked” Obviously her most prominent
feature. At least they considered the girl to be a lady in spite of
this. When I had penned it down, I asked for more. “She is
standing” “Her eyes are open”
“Her hair is drawn to the back of her
head” “She is gray”. All facts, which I deftly put down. But it
didn't satisfy me, the teacher in me came up. “Are there no
emotions?” The women caught up with my question. The girl was open,
spontaneous and one even found her to be proud. The gray eyes and
poise of the head, all I could see, definitely showed self
confidence, so penned it all down, in dutch. Then I handed back the
paper, content. After all, the quiz was to make the spectators look
at art as an expression of feelings or ideas. To make them see! And
my question made them pick up the notion.
I left the park and my feet steered me through an expensive shopping area to the vicinity of the Museumplein. That wasn't what I wanted, so I chose a
few smaller streets, leading me right through several groups of
children playing outside. After
School Care in action. They looked like regular schoolkids
during their break. Traditionally, the boys were playing football
-socker, I should say- what the girls were doing was less obvious.
Some ran past me, giggling. Only one, with reddish blond hair, halted
and looked at me with blue, serious, eyes. “Funny, we are playing
lions right now.” The confession like nature of her approach was
to be taken seriously, but somehow I felt I couldn't see her point.
Leaving me at loss for words. She pointed to my T-shirt, “Jesus the
Lion of Judah” and I looked down... a full blown male lion and the
orange sky made up of another, transparent, lionhead. [ I dress to
impress :) ] How could I forget? I laughed, opened my mouth to say
something back to her … no need she was already called away by her
playmates. I like that, those short fleeting moments of
communication that leave an impression you can carry with you.
you even try to read my next post, please study this one carefully.
Put the message in your [mental] pocket. To take it out once in a while to play with it. So you will
get to understand and know it.
were placed by JoAnne Lakefield
foll by: atto
direct the eyes
look at the sea
foll by: atto
direct one's attention
look at the circumstances
foll by: toto
turn one's interests
or expectations (towards) to
look to the future
give the impression
of being by appearance to the eye or mind; seem that
to face in a particular
house looks north
to expect, hope,
or plan (to do something) I
look to hear from you soon, he's looking to get rich
by: for ato search
or seek I
looked for you everywhere
to cherish the expectation
look for success
by: to a
to be mindful
look to the promise one has made
to have recourse
to your swords, men!
to be a pointer
or sign these
early inventions looked towards the development of industry
by: into to
carry out an investigationto
look into a mystery
11trto direct a look at
(someone) in a specified way she
looked her rival up and down
in appearance with (something)
to look one's age
to look at or observe
closely or attentively
foll by: for to
wait attentively or
or tend (something) closely or carefully
to keep vigil
an interestin to
watch the progress
of a child at school
seeing, saw, seen]
to perceive with the eyes
tr, may take a clause as object to
(an idea) mentally; understand I
explained the problem but he could not see it
with any or all of the
hate to see you so unhappy
take a clause as object to
of in advance; foresee I
can see what will happen if you don't help
tr, may take a clause as object to
or find out (a fact); learn see
who is at the door
tr, takes a clause as object; when intr, foll by: to
sure (of someth.) or
take care (of someth.) see
that he gets to bed early
tr, may take a clause as object to
or decide see
if you can come next week
to have experienceof; undergo he
had seen much unhappiness in his life
to allow to be in a specified
cannot stand by and see a child in pain
to be characterized by this
period of history has seen much unrest
to meet or pay a visit to to
see one's solicitor
to receive, esp. as a guest or
Prime Minister will see the deputation now
to frequent the company of she
is seeing a married man
to accompany or escort I
saw her to the door
to refer to or look up for
further information see the appendix
(in gambling, esp. in poker) to
match (another player's bet) or match the bet of (another player) by
staking an equal sum
I may roughly describe the differences between these three ways of
making use of 'vision', I would do it like this:
definition oflooking is
often about guiding either the eyes or view [def. 1, 5 ,11] or the
attention [2, 3, 8a, 9] or even conclusion [3, 4, 12] into a
what about result? There are no guarantees: we either hope [6, 7b] or
search [7a, 10], without a note about how it ends. Even having
recourse to something is inconclusive: it means one is able
o make use of something but that doesn't mean he will [8b].
looking is definitely directive and suggestive, but it is
sounds a lot more careful and aimed at detail, but I
sense something stressed or negative too. It's mostly like keeping an
eye out for danger, for things to be wary of, to make
sure things won't go out of control.
cautious, or alert; characterized by caution or
now that is beautiful!
about life: about sensing, perceiving and experiencing; physical or
mental [1, 2, 3, 4, 8] or even with an abstract subject 
very decisive and includes the outcome [5, 6, 7, 16] or urges you not
to just cast a glance - a look- at something but to study it. To
undergo it !! 
left out definitions 9, 11, 12, 13 ,14. They are all about seeing a
human being. Let's play with it.
is about experiencing or undergoing. Or about doing a thorough in
depth research for a conclusive answer, right. Keep that in mind when
you look at these phrases....
cannot stand by and see a child in pain Beauty... we are
obviously sharing the child's pain, we are empathic.
see one's solicitor Not for a cup of coffee and a chat, but
for very solid advice
Prime Minister will see the deputation now Again: not for a
cup of coffee and a chat
is seeing a married man ...
she looking at a married man? We all like to look at beauty, right.
No harm in that.
she watching a married man? Is she afraid of him, or does she suspect
him of a misdemeanor and wants to catch him at it?
she is 'experiencing' him. They are sharing some special part of their
saw her to the door now that's a funny one. Isn't it enough to
direct someone to the door? The indecisive directing as in looking.
“I looked her to the door” :))
I saw her to the door.... because I wanted to make sure she would
leave!! Not a very sympathetic expression. But some people just ask
for being seen to the door.
our mechanical eyes...
do these things relate to our three verbs?
The easiest one is
can we use camera's for watching ? Definitely, they are called
we use a camera for looking?
Oh yes we can. It is the type of photography I'm not keen on. Just
place a sound-activated camera in a crowd, like at a party, and it
turns directed by the noise... or cameras with facial recognition
technology. These cameras decide when and or how to make the shot of
the subject they 'pick'. And snap... it
makes a shot. Rather snappy. The outcome might be nice, but 9 out of
10 (999 out of 1000?) it will not be really worth while. Yup, that is
looking : it has both directing and uncertainty about the
for the prize word: can we use a camera for seeing?
What a question, that's the ultimate use of a camera. Seeing is an
art word, photography is [or can be] an art.
most people look, or watch, or even scrutinize, a photographer may
see something that the others overlooked, failed to see. The
photographer uses his camera to emphasize or explain what it was that he saw.
The photo may help us, overlookers, to focus and we might perceive
the 'unobvious' too. If we take care to really study the photo, let it
I try to pass along ideas, visions and feelings with words, a
photographer uses his pictures...
It was like a bad dream, she thought as
she made a mental list of the things she had to do. She became slower
and slower in working things off her list, yet new tasks kept on
adding to it at the same old speed. After enumerating the fourth post
haste job, she already felt as if she was buried alive. Buried in the
in the facts of life, the consequences of being human, of being a
single mother. She stopped thinking. Thinking only led her to feeling
paralysed. What she needed was action.
She placed her mug, bowl and spoon, her
breakfast tools, on the kitchen counter, piling them up on the
plates, mugs and glasses of yesterday. Then she went downstairs, to
the bathroom. A shower would be nice, even though it would nibble at
her time to get things done.
The shower might have washed away her
negative thoughts, but as she came downstairs and entered the living
room that had been her mother's, they washed right back over her
The room was now used for drying
laundry, exercising and even as a workplace. Her mother's furniture
had been taken away by an estate cleaner, except for a huge bookcase
and an old fashioned roll top desk. She hadn't had the heart to let
the thing be taken away. Her mother had always believed it was
antique, an original 18th century cylinder bureau she had
inherited from her grandmother, who had it from … who had it from …
It was her mother's wish that she, Hannah, would inherit it. The
desk was just an imitation, not worth a lot and so large, it
determined the atmosphere of the room, in spite of the rack filled
with dry laundry and the turned up bicycle that she hadn't been able
to repair. She had been able to increase the damage.
She sighed walking past the bike and
mentally calculated when to iron the laundry as she swallowed down
her regret for not having taken the bicycle to the repairman when the
wheel could still turn.
She halted at the end of the room, at
the door leading to the garden. The rabbit, a liberated, wild
spirited creature, was munching on the remains of a sawed
off rosebush. Too much for the big garbage bin. She might have to
hire a dumpster, if she wanted to get rid off the thorny twigs in one
swoop. If such a thing was available, she might as well get rid of
the other things in the garden: the rusty bicycles her son no longer
used, the old dead Christmas tree, the numerous empty flower boxes.
The rosebushes and flower boxes had been her mother's choice. Hannah
herself definitely had no 'green fingers'. But even is she'd had
them, there was no time for keeping up a garden. At least it was a
great place for the rabbit. That animal... it was one of the first
signs of her mother's decline. Her mother had bought it in a weak
moment, but never ever looked after it. Not even paid for her food,
in complete ignorance of Hannah's financial problems. The rabbit had
become Hannah's responsibility for the full hundred percent. The
woman raised her hand in greeting as the rabbit eyed her, wondering
if Hannah's appearance at the door might mean food. At least the
rabbit managed to make her smile. The animal hadn't been locked up
for over a year now and was probably the most wise and healthy of all
the occupants of this plot. She'd gnawed at the wire mesh of her
enclosure, creating two more exits, for just in case. Rabbit
She turned her back to the messy
garden, facing the laundry rack. Now, if she would fold it all that
would be one thing less on her list. She remembered her mother;s
habit of wanting everything to be washed, ironed and back into the
closets before leaving for a holiday. Why? So she wouldn't lose the
holiday feeling after crossing the threshold of her old life?
Hannah's holiday was coming near now,
would she get all her laundry done before that? She duly started to
pick items and started to stretch them – to reduce the creases- and
folded them neatly. If she skipped ironing them, she might get
everything piece of textile back into the closet before leaving.
Hannah was so short, she had to stand on her toes to lift sheets from
the rack without letting them brush the floor.
Maybe, she thought pausing the folding of a sheet in
midair, her urge to have things done, have clean and neat
surroundings, close to perfection... that was her inheritance.
Inheritances could be refused. They
could even be refused after taking inventory. She gave a short laugh.
She didn't need to take stock, she knew she would reject the
inheritance. Time to live her own life.