Posted in Personal

I almost lose my best friend

No, no … it’s not like what you’re thinking about. I’m talking about my bike:

Photo by David Leonard Hatumena

Last Friday, I parked my bike outside the official parking lot at Den Haag Central Station. I was in a hurry! My auntie was coming to Amsterdam after spending few days in Spa. A food company invited her there to examine their product in order to get a halal certificate. Yes, that’s what my auntie do for living, she’s a halal certifier! Cool hah?! Because of her job, she had visited soooo many countries. On top of everything, I was super happy to be visited by my family!!!

I knew I parked at the wrong place, but I didn’t care.

Other bikes were parked there as well, even though there were two big big sign, “don’t park your (motor)bike here” and “this is not a place for (motor)bike parking”. Hmmm … I guess Dutch people were not really strict about rules? To make sure that my bike will be okay, as everyone else’s bikes, I confidently lock it with a chain. “Ya ya my bike will be safe, nothing will happen otherwise nobody will park here,” … that’s what I thought.

… and then I ran to the train announcement board. Gosh, the train will go to Amsterdam in 1 minute and it was not Sneltrein (quick train). Aurgh. Meaning: I was already late! As I walked to the platform, I calculated the travel time, hufff … I would be late for 10 minutes. Straight I went to the train and jump on and off each wagon, trying to find a seat. It was so full, people were standing near the door. FFFiiiuuhhh finally I got a seat beside a very cheerful old man. After sending text message to my auntie, telling her that I would be late, my brain refused to think about anything at all.

My auntie should have told me before that her train was delayed for 30 minutes (How dare you Thalys)! I know I should’ve been used to this kind of things, because buses and trams here are always late for few minutes (what kind of service it is sigh). But still, every change in time, even just a few minutes, is significant. It can make a difference between me parking outside on the fence or going downstairs (it was just two steps from the fence really!) to park my bike in the official parking lot.

Everything was forgotten when I finally met my auntie. Me, my auntie and her friends had fun together in Amsterdam! Believe it or not, after almost a year in Netherlands, I’ve never been to Amsterdam. I mean “the” Amsterdam. I didn’t count the study visit with schoolmates to Dutch museum in Amsterdam as visiting Amsterdam, because (of course) it’s different than visiting the city itself. Amsterdam was much more … crazy!!! If you’re curious, I’m still waiting for my auntie to send our pictures in Amsterdam. After I get them I’ll show you, okay!

The next morning, my auntie had to catch her flight back to Indonesia. So there I went back to Den Haag. I was more worried about my room window which was not closed that night. Little that I know, Dutch people really do enforce their regulation (hah!). The fence where few bikes were parked last night, was totally empty! Oh no. No. No way. Big no. I tried to assure myself that nobody steal my bike. It must be done by official procedure. I don’t think a thief would steal all those bikes without being noticed!

I went downstairs to the official parking lot. Probably they just move it inside. The officer said I have to go to Junostraat 24. Oh well. Great. Because I didn’t bring any map nor connect to internet, I have to queue and ask the officer in a small bus whose duty is to explain transportation routes (Cool job as well). I have to take tram 15 and stop at Broeksloot and walked from there. I asked for alternative route just in case I got lost or take the wrong direction while walking (you know I always got lost!). She asked me to go to another station (Holland Spoor) and take bus 23. I got two papers in my hand. One was Tram 15 route, one was Bus 23 route, complete with its useless stopping time. I said thank you but still grumbling in my heart, “I don’t like this.”

In tram 15, I had a closer look at the papers. Turned out tram 15 stop at a junction where bus 23 stop as well. Not bad. I could go down at the next stop after Broeksloot, Herenstraat, and take bus 23 from there. At Herenstraat, the lady beside me said (in Dutch), “just in time, isn’t it? The bus came when the rain start falling!!!” What a lovely attitude she had. Probably because I was unhappy that morning due to being separated with my best friend, I replied her with a bitter fact, “Yes, you are right but the bus was late for 1o minutes.”

Without any map in hand I went down at Binckhorstlaan. I just walked to the nearest standing “Townmap”. I tried to understand this new place. I walked and I walked, not knowing for sure the direction to go. Junostraat should be on the left side after the river, but it was not yet in sight. After walking through two small road in the left side (don’t forget crossing the bridge over the river), I found Junostraat! drumroll “Where is number 24? Idiot why this building is number 6, not 24!” I walked and walked and finally found the fietsdepot.

The lady at reception desk asked for my bike key and when did I lose my bike. Then, a man brought me inside to identify my bike. Wow, soooo many bikes left unattended there! Where were all the owners of those bikes? Yeah, a big big smile in my heart when I got a sight of my blue Batavus Snake mountain bike (this is my bike identity in the Fout Gestald card). Hu hu hu …. This bike is so comfortable with a big wheel and a sporty “attire” and the size is perfect for my height. I often roam here and there with this bike. Even though it’s slow (and sometimes makes me think of replacing it), after this disturbance in our relationship (my bike being taken away from me), I realized that I don’t want to replace this bike at all.

When I went back to the receptionist desk, I was worried about the fine. My friend got fined 40 Euros because she didn’t put lamp on her bike. How much would my fine be? Would it be more than the cost of this bike (which was only 50 Euros)? I had to pay 15 Euros. So, Dutch people is really not that strict to their rules (as compared to Germans). According to artikel 5:21 e.v. of the Algemene wet bestuursrecht and artikel 125 of the Gemeentewet, my bike was supposed to be taken away exactly 15 minutes after I parked in the wrong place, but probably Dutch officers were to busy to be that strict. My bike was taken after spending one night in the fence. The officers discovered it at 08.05 in the morning and waited for 45 minutes before they took it, but the fine was still for my “15 minutes lateness”.

On the way home, I found a big second hand shop (Schroeder Kringloop Holland). I bought some cheap and nice things that I need (and I have Kringloop discount card=10% additional discount, yey). At the end of the day, I was riding my bicycle with a new second hand basket, feeling like a lost and confused wanderer who found enormous treasures: my bike and second hand stuffs. Tell me, have you ever feel that way too???


PS: you must be wondering how can I get back home? Well, on the road I just followed the sign to “Den Haag” and “Centraal Station” … 😀 If you want to see that big second hand shop, tell me! And don’t park your bike in the wrong place too long!


on-going tensions between ready-made values and uncharted territory

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