September 9th, 2014
It took a long time to figure out what I was doing in Europe. Usually on a plane ride to somewhere new, I figure out that I am about to go on an adventure. For me, plane rides often consist of reading a heartfelt letter from my mom, watching a movie, writing down my thoughts vigorously, perhaps sleeping; and I daydream about what I may learn and see, who I may meet along the way, and what I might eat. I take time to process that I am starting something new. This time, even after a week in Holland, I still felt like I was just going about my day’s business as usual. No revolutionary emotions fell upon me. My heart did not long for home. I didn’t feel any different waking up on a waterbed in Holland like I had when I woke up to the sound of a million people out my window in Mumbai, or to the sweet smell of Hawaiian air. I was comfortable. I had a new canine friend, wicked jet leg, and was regularly performing full shoulder checks as a pedestrian to avoid bicycle collisions. Regardless, my surroundings and arrival weren’t arousing the fears and excitement I had predicted when I bought a one way ticket to Europe. This time, the moment where the reality of the trip ‘hits me’ didn’t come.
At the time, I thought perhaps I was not alarmed because the experience was somewhat familiar. I woke up beside my best friend since grade one, and the weather was like home. I once spent 24 hours in Holland so the area wasn’t completely new. Traveling was not a new concept to me. After India and Indonesia, it takes a lot for me to experience ‘culture shock’. As I write this, seven weeks later, I have discovered an additional explanation. I am realizing now, that for the first time in my travels, my significant relocation on the planet was not the most shocking or exciting thing going on. I had a fast paced year filled with new beginnings, and starting another adventure was not yet a priority for my brain to process. Don’t worry, my brain has finally caught up. The moment where it ‘hit me’ came weeks later while looking out of the train window on my way to Paris. It was a wonderful moment.
Although Amsterdam is the Capital, Den Haag is the political hub. On the day of the King of the Netherland’s first public speech, crowds flooded the streets, a parade marched through city and Tenia and I, dressed in patriotic bright orange, waved at the Queen. Royal experience, check.