Monday, 18 October 2010

Night cycling

The nostalgia of food

The fact is nostalgia runs thick when you have left home for another place. The degree to which you might feel nostalgia might however differ for all sorts of people.

Whilst I have no particular inclination to return to Nigeria, I do enjoy Nigerian food that I either get to cook for myself or order from the gradually improving Obalade Suya in Amsterdam South which seems to have exceeded the African Kitchen in organisation, sophistication and sense of service by far – they even have a website.

Also there is fare from England that you cannot find in Amsterdam supermarkets, from the ordinary things like sliced white bread, through certain cereals and then pork pies amongst other goods – teas, biscuits, puddings, soups to name but a few.

The British shop (Absolutely British) in Amsterdam moved to Amstelveen over a year ago and I usually get there by tram and metro, a journey taking about 45 minutes.

Getting the bike out

This time, I thought I would get on my bicycle and ride out there, the estimated distance using Google Maps was about 11 kilometres from my home but that was using the pedestrian calculation, the journey by car could not be afforded bicycles and the directions by bicycles have not been fully integrated.

So, I thought I had to go due West, then due South keeping a general idea of Amsterdam’s cartography in my head, I did not really miss a turn though I could have made my journey more efficient.

I avoided a mishap where a car that had passed the traffic lights but had been caught in a tailback that was at an intersection, the road cleared in front of the car just when the traffic lights gave me right of way and it was just half a metre from broken bones or a dented bonnet.

The journey took just short of an hour and the ride was leisurely enough not to leave me panting and I stocked up on home goods.

The sleight of lights

On my return journey I got to a sign pointing to Amsterdam Centre but in opposite directions, to the right I could have a river-view ride with less vehicular traffic but it was getting dark.

I pedalled gaining a rhythm that was not too exhausting but met with my pet peeves again and again, the lawless cyclists of Amsterdam.

I would that the police conducted more checks on cyclists at traffic lights who ignore the signs and most especially the ones that ride at night without lights.

It was bad enough that you could not see oncoming bicycles approaching at speed or those coming up from behind so as to take them into consideration, then there were the ones in front who rode oblivious of other road users without high-visibility clothing.

Rules for cyclists broken

The worst situation was with cyclists riding up the wrong way without giving way to those who had right-of-way and I met up with many as I cursed under my breath at the irresponsibility and carelessness of the riders.

I remember that it was my care and concern from a lady cyclist in front of me on a foggy night without lights that held me up the day I got beaten up by drink-and-drug fuelled Moroccans.

It is utterly unacceptable but in Amsterdam cyclists ride as if there are no rules, no laws and they had right of way in all circumstances against cars and public transport.

There is this underlying vice of impatience that pushes them on, they just cannot been seen to stop but some to get stopped and wheeled away, then between the feelings of sympathy and indifference you realise that no matter how fast you are, you are not going beyond your destination – so why the rush?

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