Sunday, 25 April 2010

Welcome to recovery

What is recovery?

Sometimes one wonders, as the global economy recovers from the banking crisis, what really constitutes the road to real recovery? The bailouts, the needed reforms and keeping the engine of growth well oiled – the former and the latter are comfortable, reform is a bitter pill.

Likewise, I look at my road to recovery and see certain new thinking and some old habits that die hard – does my full recovery include the reliving of the old or the adoption of the new but unfamiliar? And so much introspection about attitude and the ingestion of pills leads to dilemmas about lessons learnt and ones to discard, reform is not easy.

Escape velocity of a train

For the first time in over 7 months I finally escaped the gravitational pull of being in the Netherlands for a foreign trip to Belgium, Antwerp in fact, just by high-speed train now 1 hour 12 minutes away if there are no delays – this was a journey that usually was about 2 hours 6 minutes – it was my first time experiencing the force of traction at that rate on this journey.

A carefree attitude almost accompanied the booking of my tickets but for the presence of mind to book ones that are changeable, you just never know, the cheapest ticket is not necessarily the best ticket if mistakes or eventualities arise – that must be known.

The inconvenience of not now having a credit card meant transactions were done either with a debit card or with the fact that one still possessed a loyalty card for all sorts of services which had not yet expired.

The Hague is left in the haze

As we raced through the countryside it was not fields of green but greenhouses on swathes of land that imitated foreign climates and lots of tunnels, wherever we surfaced we came up beside macadamised routes for cars and bridges of concrete – indeed, there were areas of nature but not much to admire – contrast with Bohemia and we might well have our windows blacked out.

The route of the high-speed track was bold; bold in the fact that it runs from Amsterdam, through Schiphol international Airport and then to Rotterdam before it arrives in Antwerp in Belgium. The Hague, the administrative capital and seat of government is apparently, well obviously not in the route of the direct journey that runs from Amsterdam to Paris through Brussels.

In words that might sound so foreboding to the residents of The Hague when they do need to go South, they need to board a train to Rotterdam and then change trains – alternatively, they could travel on the slower Intercity train that calls at a few more stations and terminates at Brussels – as I was saying, The Hague has become provincial and almost unimportant – the facts on the track that I have put in words.

Almost business as usual

Everything else had the feel of what I was used to and the questions I would normally ask, as to why I ended up in a twin-bed room rather than a king-size bed room, the safe locked needing opening and what not about services and expectations.

However, one part of the journey I did not fail to notice was when a passenger was told she was not entitled to some apparently free service – she considered it rude, but I thought what she meant by rude was that the steward was not reverential and obsequious – I should have pointed out to the passenger that I did not once hear her say please when she made an aggressive strike for entitlements.

Rudeness begets rudeness, even if the customer thinks they are right – on my part, is this now welcome to recovery?

Thank you.

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