Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Delft, Delve or Dig

Nasimah, Haniff and I got ready by 10.25 am to walk to the Central Station in Den Haag to catch the train to Delft. As usual I am always dressed to expect the worst because it is not my habit to absorb the cold, and I am very vulnerable to it. So even it's Spring, but I am dressed as if it's Winter! Better safe than sorry, as people use to say.

The return fare is 4.30 euros per head and the train took off right on the dot at 10.51 a.m. arriving at Delft station at 11.03 a.m.This is something which KTM Berhad should inculcate into their system, where punctuality should be second nature.

Walking slowly to the town centre in the bright sunshine without the blustery wind is a Gift from ALLAH, one which I appreciate with humility here. The town centre in Europe is usually the market centre, so since I had already mapped out the route to be taken from the Station it wasn't that difficult to find it.There wasn't the usual holiday crowd, unlike the one we came across in Antwerp yesterday. Nasimah went into the souvenir shop, while Haniff and I savour the sights on the Market Square.

Delft simply means "to delve" or "to dig", in reference to the construction of the canal in the 11th Century, now known as " Oude Delft ".Although people always associate Delft with it's blue ceramics, but in fact it is an intellectual centre and Delft Technical University has 15,000 students.Incidentally we met a group of Malay students who are still studying in Leeds, U.K. at the Market Square and they told us they were going to Keukenhof.

Then we took a ride on what is known as blue delft-xpress, just like a two coach tram with wooden benches going round the city, and it took one hour to complete the trip. Delft has much to offer than just the blue ceramics, and if one should visit Holland, this is a worthwhile place to visit.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Keukenhof, Garden of Flowers ( mostly Tulips)

We were in Keukenhof near Leiden yesterday to see it's 60th Anniversary Flower Exhibition.One has to experience one of the wonders of nature which is truly one of the Signs of ALLAH's Greatness. The area is famous for it's tulip bulbs, but the Exhibition area is specially cultivated like a botanical garden and there are hundreds of varieties of flowers being planted in between the trees and places in a park sorrounded by man-made lakes.

We took a train from Den Haag Central Station and got down at the Leiden Station in the direction of Amsterdam, a journey of about twenty minutes.Then from a bus stop just outside the Station,we hopped on to bus number 54 to Keukenhof for another 25 minutes. There was already a large crowd at the place and obviously the bright and sunny day made it more auspicious.

We spend the day following the guide-map shown in the book bought for four euros. While we were just covering a quarter of the exhibition area, it began to drizzle, but fortunately it was brief. While Nasimah was in the shop looking for souvenirs, Haniff and Nurul bought ice-cream from the stall nearby.

The word "Keukenhof" literally means "Kitchen Garden" because the place was used to gather herbs for the kitchen at the Castle.My impression of the place is one of appreciation of ALLAH's Gift to this world where the sweet smell of the flowers is just perhaps one would experience in Paradise.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Praise be to ALLAH, it's a bright Sunny Day!

Being from a country near the Equator, it's taken for granted that we enjoy the sun all the year round. Of course there's the monsoons and inter-monsoons, but somehow the sun on average does appear on the horizon. But since I arrived in the Netherlands, the weather has been mostly cloudy and cold, and this weather pattern can depress you.

So today when we were at the " Haagse Market" which is a huge " Pekan Rabu " of some 500 stalls, the sun shone brightly and the temperatures must have climbed up notably in the high of 19 degrees, I felt elated for the first time since I am here. It's the will of ALLAH that the weather differs in various parts of the World, because it's one of the Signs of His Greatness!

I am expecting Haniff, my youngest son to fly in from Ireland this evening for the Easter Holidays. I supplicate to the Almighty that he'll have a safe and smooth journey. Nurul, Nasimah and I would be going to the Central Den Haag Station to fetch him as it's only about fifteen minutes walk from the apartment. And InshaALLAH we shall be endowed with more bright and sunny days ahead. Alhamdulillah!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Barking at the Hill

There's a Malay proverb which goes like this, " Seperti Anjing Menyalak Bukit " which refers to a futile attempt to get attention. So since yesterday I came across a group of people demonstrating at a " Plein " or a Square very close to the Den Haag City Centre.

One of the "demonstrator" even gave me a flyer which unfortunately was in Dutch, and I have yet to learn the language.The girl who gave me the flyer must have been in her early teens and yet spent most of the day at the Square. The other people in the group kept shouting as they faced a building facing the Square, next to the Department of Justice,presumably an Embassy. It still continued when I passed the same Square on my way to the City Centre Malls. I could not make out what the shouting was all about, but my guess is it's connected to the a Liberation movement's struggle which had been dragging on for a long time and a lot of innocent people are caught in the crossfire recently between the government troops and the rebels.

Perhaps it's one of the way to attract attention, but since yesterday not many people took notice of them, and the cause they are trying to champion is somewhat coming to an end, so it seemed. But their commitment to stand and shout at the building in the cold weather, to me is really admirable.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Cycling World

No, it's nothing to do with the Tour de Langkawi which is an annual event in our country. But it's the fascination that struck me upon seeing people that I come across here in The Hague ( or Den Haag ) cycling which is almost second nature to the Dutch.

Without going into the factors that make cycling to be a habit whether it's to the young or old, male or female, it's part of their national psyche.And their climate is conducive to the habit. But one thing I am sure about is that their population is healthier and live longer because it's a good exercise, next to swimming.

But if I remember correctly, before we became more prosperous as of today, majority of our people mostly cycle too, whether in towns or villages. Alas if progress made us discard this habit, then it's not progress but regress.

My OPA Secretary would vouch that his cycling group is getting more people to cycle and being in Putrajaya does help a lot. So keep it up