Three Four, 34; my official age starting yesterday (28 Dec). In the morning, when I was still in bed, the kids came to me, each with a package in his and her hands. Dhanu said, "I know it's your birthday!", while Lindri just said, "Presents!". These are pre-presents, according to Syb, because more will come much later (he's still ordering them.. heehee).
Dhanu handed over the present from Syb: a live show DVD of Jonathan Richman. Yay! We went to his show in Amsterdam a couple of years ago and I enjoyed it very much; an honest, pleasant and funny performance. The rest are presents from my mother-in-law: complete DVDs of British comedy series: Fawlty Towers, Yes Minister and (the Best of) Dad's Army. All my favourites!
There was no cake and no candles to blow, for I am usually the one who go out and prepare them. Sybrand is already so busy packing (and a bit ill as well) so he couldn't prepare those for me, but he did a lot already. In the mid-day I took Lindri to the station to meet Anin; we're going to have a girls' day out! It was exactly lunch time so we walked rightaway to Zeedijk, dropping by New King for some sui kiau (shrimp dumpling) soup, shrimp-sesame toast, kangkung with beef and stuffed aubergine in black bean sauce.
Fed, warmed and happy, we moved on to the direction of Nieuwmarkt. We entered Henk comics shop; I wanted to see if they have the 10th (and the final!) volume of Samurai Executioner series, but they didn't. The shop was full of boxes to be unpacked, the contents registered and displayed, so we couldn't spend too much time in there (which was not easy, because everytime I'm there I always want to linger and devour all the action figures over there with my eyes!).
Passing De Waag, we walked straight down the street of Kloveniersburgwal; the canal on our left handside. It wasn't raining and, although cloudy, the temperature was not too cold. Lindri walked along happily and even laughed out loud whenever I and Anin, who held her hands, lifted her to 'fly' at every intersection.
Next stop: the Book Exchange, shop specializing in used English books. This place has been my favourite second-hand bookshop since I first set my foot in, nearly 8 years ago. Anin was looking for some light reading materials to pass the New Year's Eve, so I showed her the novels section. I and Lindri browsed the children's book and comics section (where Lindri found a Noddy book and I Mad's Dave Berg Looks at Modern Thinking and a 1982 edition of Totto-Chan) and the cookbook section (where I found a Bourdain book: A Cook's Tour). I couldn't spend too much time in the basement (sections of sociology, fantasy, biography, gender studies, etc.) because Lindri was getting impatient. Anin found 2 books for herself, and we paid on our way out. Those books I and Lindri picked? Less than 15 Euros for the whole lot! Not bad at all..
the Book Exchange
1012 CX Amsterdam
Tel: +31 (20) 6266266
In one of the facades of University of Amsterdam complex, a couple of book kiosks were also opened for business. "Cookbooks and Dutch-Indies", was written on a board, directing us to their spots. Interesting, old and new cookbooks were displayed on wooden tables. I can't help noticing a hardback Larousse Gastronomique, still in its plastic wrappers, priced at 70 Euro (so it's actually not much cheaper here compared to, for example, the New English Bookshop). Another big table displayed various books from the Dutch-Indies era: fictions, picture books, children's books, recipes, etc. Some were priced as antiques, reaching up to hundreds of Euros. I almost bought a picture book about plantations in the Dutch-Indies, with complete photos, priced at about 16 Euro, but I recalled my mother has one already (with incomplete photos, bought at De Slegte). This one was really a good copy, I was really tempted - but in the end I decided not to buy it. Well, it was a pleasant 'window-shopping'..
On to the direction of Muntplein, passing the De l'Europe hotel. We aimed to go to the American Book Center (ABC), which just moved to its new location at the Spui. Here Lindri started getting tired so I carried her along Kalverstraat. Before turning left to Spui, we stopped by the windows of Waterstones to feast our eyes on the new books that were sold on bargain prices. Too bad we were just from the 2nd-hand shop, so the prices are incomparable. On to the ABC!
The new shop of ABC used to be a showroom for piano (and maybe some other musical instruments); which never seemed to be inhabited. It is totally different now; the interior - dominated by wooden elements - gives a warm atmosphere, but not dull, because the design is quite dynamic. The ground floor (magazines, best sellers, etc.) was full of people, so we went to the first floor (travels, children's, comedy, comics, etc.) where we spent most of our time. I quickly looked for the Samurai Executioner #10 and I got it! *does Snoopy dance* I also looked for Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things, which was easy to find. There it was, a hardback with beautiful semi-transparant, thin cover, priced at about 26 Euro. Hmph.. I'd better wait for a paperback version. All sections were full of people and it wasn't pleasant anymore for Lindri who was already tired. I'll surely be back once more to explore the whole shop some other day, without any toddler. I took Lindri to the children's section, where we could browse many books. She liked that. After reading two books with Lindri, I paid my purchase and we left the shop. Lindri was 'alive' again upon hearing our next plan: get some ice-cream!
American Book Center
Tel: +31 (20) 6252180
Mon-Sat: 10.00 - 20.00 (Thu until 21.00)
Sun: 11.00 - 18.30
Too bad the Tokyo Cafe at the Spui is closed until January, so we couldn't get our green tea or kidney beans ice cream. We walked to Kalvertoren Shopping Center, our minds set to the small Häagen-Dazs cafe that is located at the Singel part of the shopping center. As expected, the seats inside were all occupied. Fortunately, after ordering, we could sit on one of the two small tables outside the cafe, where we felt like sitting in the middle of the streams of shoppers and passers-by. I had a portion of chocolate and vanilla caramel brownie ice cream with warm brownie pieces, chocolate sauce and almond slices; Anin a seasonal fig ice cream with chocolate sauce, shortbread and crushed mixed nuts. I was about to share my brownies ice cream with Lindri but she refused upon the dark, hideous sight of the portion, so I ordered one scoop of strawberry cheesecake ice cream for her. She's quite content with it.
Once the ice cream was finished, we continued walking to the tram stop in front of V&D and took a number 16 to Heinekenplein. We reached home at about 15:45, where we could rest and chat, while Syb and Dhanu went to the doctor (their appointment was at 16:00). At about 17:00 Syb and Dhanu came back, bringing the doctor's recipes for their medications. I and Anin departed again, this time to our local pharmacy as the main direction.
It was already dark outside, but not colder. We walked through Albert Cuyp marketplace, which surprisingly was still open (perhaps because it's Thursday, koopavond, where stores are opened until around 20:00). We turned left at the intersection with Ferdinand Bolstraat, passing by a road that used to have tram rails (but not anymore since the construction of an extended subway tunnel) and now has become a pedestrian and cycling area. I was the last customer at the pharmacy; they were preparing to close down the shop when we were about to leave. We walked up the Ferdinand Bolstraat again to the direction of Heinekenplein, stopping by Sari Citra for some dinner (it's my birthday, I don't have to cook.. heehee). Just some chicken sate, fried Javanese noodles and some mixed veggies (broccoli, cauliflower and carrot) were enough for Syb and the kids, for I was still full from all the daytime eating. Anin chose an ote-ote for her trip back to Delft. We said bye near the tramstop of Heinekenplein (thanks for the fun day, Anin!), then I went home to feed my familiy. Later that night, when the kids were already in bed, we enjoyed one of my birthday presents: the Jonathan Richman liveshow! 19 songs, typical Richman, plus interviews. Very pleasant, and even funny.
I thank you all for the greetings I received through email, e-cards, Multiply and phone calls. Those really helped me get the 'birthday' feeling, which I was lack of due to the many celebrations that just happened (Sinterklaas, Dhanu's birthday and Christmas) and stuff that still should happen (packing and moving business, public defence preparations and such). It was one of my most modest but memorable birthdays! :D