Mr Tabubil and I have just returned from three weeks holiday – a week in Holland, so that I might see a bit of his country and meet his family, and two weeks together after that in Italy. Right now we’re in Holland.
Train stations in Holland have more bicycle parking that I DREAMED possible – even after half a week in Holland.
Example: the bicycle parking-facility outside the central train station in Amsterdam is a four storey structure - it holds thousands of bicycles, parked handle to handle, seat to seat, and double-decker and every single one looks identical; the feats of memory that the average Dutch commuter performs on a twice-daily basis are PRODIGIOUS.
“How DO you remember where you left your bike?”
Anneke is vague. She doesn’t quite meet my eyes. “Well, you don’t ALWAYS. Sometimes you spend a very long time – a whole night maybe – trying to remember that.”
I began to look at the bicycle garages with different eyes – noticing the bicycles with outrageous neon saddlebags, or plastic flowers twisted around the seats, and wondering how many of the others there simply WERE there, had been there for days, weeks, months, years –
How many people had given up, and bought another one, and lost that one too, and given up again and bought another one -
I imagine that annually the city breaks the chains and holds an EXTREMELY lucrative auction -
SENSIBLE people rent a locker. Two lockers. They ride a nice bike from their home to their home station, store it there in their very own numbered closet, ride the train to the town where they work, go to their other numbered locker and take out their beater and ride that one to the office –
The bicycle-parking facility at the central train station in den Hague is somewhat more modest. But large enough - we watched an elderly couple, combing through one level of the bicycle garage, then climbing the ramp to the level above and searching through that. They decided that they must have been mistaken, and climbed back down the ramp to the lower level and went through it again, bicycle by bicycle – we had to go and catch our train and couldn’t stay and watch. I imagine that they’re still there.