Monday, November 20, 2006

One World

What a weekend last weekend turned out to be. I arrived in Brussels one suitcase lighter than I left with, which meant no clothes, toothbrush or any of the essentials. Luckily I was staying at Nik’s and when he heard I was practically homeless and naked, he told me to help myself to anything I needed. That sounds like a generous offer on the surface, but the fact of the matter is, I am about twice the height of Nik. Well, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but I would not have been able to borrow a pair of jeans without setting off all sorts of Katrina like flood warnings.

My favorite color is cashmere and Nik has tons of it, but I ended up somewhat disappointed. See, I have had my eye on a certain jumper of his, but it was nowhere to be seen. .. I searched high, I searched low but could not find a trace of it, so had to choose a tacky Gap jumper instead, which turned out to be a better choice than the cashmere after all. As if being robbed at gunpoint (ok, so there were no guns, but there could have been) wasn’t bad enough, there I was in Egmont park, leaning against a sculpture of Peter Pan, looking at the different colors in the trees, enjoying the smell of the autumn leaves, listening to Caruso when and basking in what may be the last sun of the year when a little bird decided to poo on my sleeve. Well, not my sleeve, but Nik’s sleeve, but while I was wearing it. Of course, I did not notice this until after I had met up with Joe and we were walking through the center of town on route to afternoon drinks and stopped in one of my favorite stores. Suddenly, there it was, small but there. I was stunned, shocked, mortified and thankful it wasn’t my clothes, but then I remembered that the only reason it wasn’t mine is because they had been taken hostage at Mechelen train station. A quick trip to the gents and I was good as new. I can honestly say that if you are ever stranded in Brussels without your luggage, stay at Nik’s. His medicine chest is like going to the cosmetics counter at Harvey Nichol’s or Galleries Lafayette. He doesn’t just have everything you need, he has 10 different varieties. I was paralyzed by the choice and ended up washing my hair and body about 8 times during each shower just to give each gel and shampoo an equal opportunity. Not only that, but he is also stocked to the ceiling with drugs from the US. That is one thing about living in Europe, you can’t just go buy Benadryl or any old thing you need over the counter. Even nasal spray requires a trip to the doctor and a prescription.

Sunday was relaxing. I woke Joe up and invited myself over for some coffee and a quick breakfast before heading out in the rain to Leuven to meet some friends. Everyone I asked said it was a 20 minute train ride from Brussels to Leuven. What they didn’t tell me was that there are two types of trains… The direct one which takes 20 minutes, and the one that goes via the airport which takes 45. So, of course I end up on the train going via the airport. We pull into the airport and as we pull out, we start heading back to Brussels. I start to panic thinking I am on the wrong train. Then it becomes clear we are not heading to Brussels, but we start speeding through the countryside and after what seemed like an eternity, we start pulling into this small city. I start to panic realizing I had no idea where I was. I thought I had been to Leuven before and it was a small village. It turned out that everything was ultimately OK, and the small city was indeed Leuven and I have actually never been there. Senility is one thing, but to remember being someplace I have never been is a bit frightening.

I stopped by the police station just before leaving on the train from Brussels back to Amsterdam, but there was still no sign of my luggage but they told me to check back next Friday when I am back in the Belgium.

Today I ended up giving into my sinus infection I have had for the past 4 days and left work early to wrap myself in blankets and drown myself in chicken soup and the Benadryl that I stole from Nik’s. In between sleeping, shivering and ladeling soup down my throat, I went onto and came across a brilliant, concept titled “One World”. The idea is to write a simple message on your hand and submit a video of it. I quickly became obsessed with it. It is just a simple idea and absolutely brilliant. I have included the original video in this blog. There are a lot of response videos on YouTube which are definitely worth checking out... And of course, add your own.

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