Friday, May 13, 2011


Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport is the first at which I've had to remove my belt. Not because it set off a scanner, or because it has a history of setting off scanners, but Just Because. And of course the metal cap on the end got snagged on the label of my jeans and wouldn't come loose, leaving me standing in front of a hundred irritable strangers tussling with the back of my pants while being ogled by a Dutch customs officer. I understand that you can pay good money for that sort of thing in Amsterdam, but come on, I'm only transiting.

One thing that typified the pragmatic and unembarrassed Dutch mind occurred when I stopped by the men's toilets. It was fairly crowded, with every stall occupied and a steady stream (if you'll excuse the pun) of men using the urinals. Amid all this, an unflappable black cleaning lady was cleaning things as they became clear. It was only as I was leaving the rest rooms that it occurred to me, "Wait, not only was there a woman in a fully occupied men's toilet, but the guys were completely unconcerned about getting their penises out in front of her." I'm pretty sure that doesn't happen in Australia.

I'm feeling stale and grimy but other than that I'm fine. Judging from past experience I will crash very suddenly and very completely around 6 or 7 this evening local time. Or perhaps sooner, given my scant sleep last night. Or afternoon. Or whatever it was. We were chasing the night all the way from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam, making a late Spring evening stretch out to over eighteen hours.


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