Moving Experience VI

After a brief question-and-answer session, the entire party adjourned for dinner as Zenju had not eaten in quite some time. She is a vegan, recently launched on a macrobiotic diet, so our choices were somewhat limited. We walked down a narrow alley that was jammed with bicycles and came upon a Thai restaurant. I think it was called Take Thai, but I’m not sure.

I saw the host look at his watch (it was probably about 9:30) and then raise his eyebrows when we announced there were seven of us. We actually multiplied until I think there were nine or ten by the time we left.

The waitress announced that there were no soups and no appetizers available. Being full from dinner, I declined to eat. Something must have changed because everyone who ordered soup, received it, also salads. And the biggest pile of rice I’ve ever seen in one place.

I sat across from Zenju at the table and had a chance to chat. She said that her family was from Louisiana. I asked where. She said her father’s was from Opelousas and her mother was from New Iberia. I got a funny sensation in the pit of my stomach and asked what her mother’s maiden name was. She said Broussard. Now, Broussard is like Smith in the rest of the country. Nevertheless I thought it odd that I had traveled thousands of miles to meet a woman who lives even farther away who shares a family name. (My great-grandmother Azelima bore the maiden name of Broussard. And my dad was born in New Iberia.) Zenju said she’d been unable to learn much about the family, so I gave her my card and told her I’d search it out if she sent me the information.

She was unable to finish her soup and grabbed a cab back to the place where she was staying while the rest of us went back to Brasserie Schiller, where Hans and Ira and I had had a coffee before we watched the films. This building, too, had a fascinating history, and more terrific Art Deco flourishes. Ira pointed out, however, that the little gem also had no side windows and hence lacked any ventilation, which drove me back out on the street where about half our group had gathered. There was more cigarette smoke but it wasn’t as bad in the open air as it was confined to the airless interior.

At some point someone decided we should visit the “coffeehouse” next door. In any other country, this would be called a headshop and it would sell only papers, pipes and lighters. In Amsterdam, it of course sells marijuana in about forty different styles including cupcakes and single joints. I couldn’t make heads or tails of what was going on, just noticed that the place also sold beer and allowed cigarette smoking inside.

Hans and Ira had said that a previous government had banned tobacco smoking indoors but the new administration wanted to repeal the ban. Given the unpleasant state of the inside of the “coffeehouse” I hope they don’t succeed. Ash bought a single joint. I took a single hit and began to cough. So much for that experiment.

Jody decided she wanted an actual drink so we adjourned to Schiller’s. Babeth VanLoo, who had performed miracles in organizing the festival, joined us. She lit up a joint, and the owner/manager came over yelling, “What are you trying to do? Get me shut down?” That’s how I learned that the authorities are very strict about limiting weed smoking to the designated places.

It was then getting late so we hopped in a cab and returned to Casa Salsa. On the walk to the taxi stand I saw a neon sign that said New York Pizza. Folks know how to cater to pot smokers with the munchies. Ira said he knew the owners and that the pizza was the suitable New York style with a thin, thin crust.

This taxi ride reinforced the odd nature of Amsterdam streets. They may start out with four lanes, one each for travel, and one each for left turns. Oh, and a bike lane in each direction, plus parking on one or both sides. Then without warning, they’ll narrow to two lanes and suddenly to one with the opposing traffic diverted elsewhere and the bike lane merged with the road. I never did see any place where signs warned of these changes, though maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough. Conclusion: Will not drive in Amsterdam.

After a brief chat, I adjourned to bed and lay awake most of the night. I kept thinking I smelled cigarette smoke. I did. It was in my hair.

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One Response to “Moving Experience VI”

  1. Amazing Day « Lizr128′s Blog Says:

    […] mentioned that her mother came from the same town in Louisiana where my father was born (“Moving Experience VI“). While I had to travel to Amsterdam to meet a woman who lives in California to make that […]

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