Friday Book Market at Spui

Every Friday there is a Book Market at the Spui, Amsterdam. On this day there is a peppy vibe to the place. Antique books, quirky books, second-handbooks, new books and forgotten books all find their way to stalls here. The keepers are friendly. People seem to have time. A certain stillness. Browse and be. No hard sell. No interruptions. The only contact is between you and the books. You touch, you flip pages, you read a page here and a blurb there, and you move on.

I come here to absorb the spirit. Often to remind myself why I made the choices I did. Words become dust motes. People fade to the background. Sounds filter to a muffled white state. I leave parts of myself in the corners. And I collect new ones that I want to carry.

Of all the things I have experienced in this city – this market is closest to my heart. Along with the OBA. That I will save for another day. When it’s not Friday. Till then you will find me here. 


Hortus Botanicus, Amsterdam

Hortus Botanicus, Amsterdam

A day spent at the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam.
Such peace and tranquility in the heart of a busy city is unusual. The meditative spaces and careful corners are crafted here with such sensitivity.

Talking to strangers

A few days back my aged taxi driver Abdullah informed me of how Hafez was far from being a purist, he was a diluter of true Persian culture, writing in an Arab form. He quoted Ferdowsi and said, “now he is the man to study for pure Persian literary gems – go read Ferdowsi and take some time away from Hafez.” I nodded remarking that maybe my summer read should indeed be the Shahnameh. He smiled, “It has no words from Arabic in it, not even remotely.” “Yes, I must immerse into it, not just the bits and pieces that I pick and choose like Rostam and Sohrab.”

After some chit-chat about Dutch weather and an Indian Summer, he started nodding his head to some internal music: “No don’t spend time on kings this summer,” he said, “read Khayyam and go all romantic.” I laughed, “Nightingales, Wine and Roses!” I exclaimed. We chuckled like conspiring children.

In the meantime my eight-year old looked out of the window.

The moment we got off, Bambi crossed his arms, “Listen Mom no talking to strangers. How many times do I have to tell you?”

Light and Water: Visual Poetry

Video: central Amsterdam under water in a poetic light display.

After having us cycle along starry night bike paths, Dutch artist and innovator Daan Roosegaarde has now turned his attention to the power of water. Just over one quarter of the Netherlands is below sea level and the sea is kept at bay by a network of dykes, dams and other water defences. But what would happen if they weren’t there? ‘Waterlicht is the dream landscape about the power and poetry of water,’ Roosegaarde says on Studio Roosengaarde website. ‘Innovation is within the DNA of the Dutch landscape via its waterworks and creative thinking, yet we almost seem to forgotten this.’ The installation Waterlicht consists of wavy lines of light made with the latest LED technology, software and lenses. It was created for the Dutch Rijn & IJssel waterboard and was at the Museumplein in Amsterdam for three nights earlier this month.”

Read more at Video: central Amsterdam under water in a poetic light display

Tupperware boxes

They never come back
like lost socks, hair-ties, countless ballpoint pens
Tupperware boxes handed out after parties
for that morning snack, extra mithai, tomorrow’s lunch

Monday night jolted me
Searing pain
A little boy in ‘trash pack’ pyjamas
“You be brave”
“No, you be brave”
“Do you think they will keep you here forever?”
“I will stay forever with you here”

As they placed the oxygen mask
I looked at him
His eyes were like saucers
“Now is not a good time to take a selfie”

Wednesday afternoon and I’m still foggy
Sleep comes and goes
I feel tranquil
You tasty temptress morphine
Clock hands, that’s all I remember, and a coiling blue orchid

Silent stones they call them
Not now, not now, not now

One by one
Pasta, cham-cham, dhokla, crackers, kruidkoeks
These boxes keep showing up at the door
Ringing the bell
Making themselves at home on the sofa
Pouring cups of tea