Marianne and I had agreed to meet this morning at the Noordermarkt, specifically to have the best Saturday breakfast treat, a big piece of appeltaart from Winkel 43 with coffee. It is definitely an indulgent way to start your weekend and a critical basis for having a good conversation. Seeing that the weather was good, I decided to bike knowing that I would also wander through the organic farmer’s market and come home with some culinary treasures – in this case brussel sprouts, chanterelles, sunflowers, a vegan ricotta cheese and some amazing bread.
On the ride over, while dodging tourists, trams, cars, other cyclists and street clean up crews, I realized that my cycling style bears a resemblence to a brontasaurus on a bike. In other words, while Dutch cyclists seem to do everything on the bike with grace and style based on years of experience, DNA and upbringing – I ride super defensively and with the intent to just keep going. In other words, powering through. It helps that Beatrix is a heavy framed work cycle, meant for serious transport of bulky things and tonnage. It’s also why she has 8 gears and more storage space than some small cars.
This made me laugh. There’s a certain freedom that comes with bicycling and also an enhanced system of priority. Going to the store requires strategic purchasing. It also means that I have extra bungee cords to allow for fastening of bulky objects and that with a little creativity, there isn’t much you can’t do with your bike. For example, last weekend I knew I needed to make a recycling run (they don’t pick up at your house here) so I figured how to maximize my cargo capacity.
If you were to ask me what I would miss most about living here, I think my answer would be the ability to bike most places. While I won’t ever be Dutch, I think that I have enough Dutch blood in me get the bicycle love affair 😉
On the way home from the Noordermarkt, I didn’t take the opportunity to ride through the passage of the Rijksmuseum – this is my favorite spot to bike through in the city. Simply because during the day, it is packed with museum visitors. I like doing it best at night, when it is empty. It always feels like I am getting away with something, but it is permitted. Unless you have a scooter and then it is not!
This afternoon, I spent a long time working with my mentee and his interview presentations. The connection between Amsterdam and Nairobi wasn’t that stable today but we managed to get some good work done. I am really privileged to be part of his life. He shared something with me today – on his way to his interview this week, he reminded himself of something that I said. I was really touched. Funny to think that every now and again, some piece of advice I have for someone works. Now if he gets one of these jobs, I will really be delighted for him.
In a way, focusing on his job search is also helping me with my own. It is helping me to refine precisely what I want in terms of responsibilities, culture and challenges. I think a bicycle commute is definitely high on that list 😉