Fuck I love the way the world works.
I don’t mean its axis spin or its set out or the seasons and tides. I’m referring to the multifariousness of all the persons and places.
Like how rad is it that different people in assorted patches of the planet all accentuate the same word so differently? Or have a completely different phrase for an item? That sets of eyes do the exact same function, yet be so varying in shape and colour and lid? Ditto for noses, hands, all round physiques? And skin tones; the colour swatch chart for pigmentation must be hugely more of a range than anything Dulux could produce.
When I first started travelling, I used to think life would be so much easier if the entire globe used the same linguistics, the same currency, the same social cues. How much more hassle free would it be heading to a country a pole away and knowing that the $50 in your wallet would be accepted no sweat? And that everyone could understand you when you asked for the nearest supermarket? The ease of it mate. No fucking about. All on the same page.
But I’ve taken a right about turn and absolutely changed my mind. Cultural nuances are so beautiful.
I mean, how fun is it trying to figure out if when the Indian man nods, it’s in assent or if he actually means no? (Actually, not always quite so fun. Sometimes you don’t know where you are in such a situation. It’s not entirely nerve easing when you’ve booked a taxi to take you to the airport for 3pm – or have you?). And learning about the infinite historical stories; it amazes me how there can be so many alternative tales as to how humankind came to be. And part of the beauty of exploration is exclaiming in delight at the 50 cents your entire meal cost you in Vietnam, then exclaiming in horror at the price of your loaf of bread in the corner Swiss store.
But there are some similarities that you’ll find anywhere, be it the centre of a European city or all over the show in India or even queuing Auckland’s Queen Street; the homeless. Before I went for a wee walk around the Brussels streets and it broke my heart to see several strewn here and there, dirty blankets and boxes adding up to their worldly belongings.
Poverty is universal.
But I’m not going down that avenue – I’m on such a happy high, I want to continue along the preceding sunny street.
I love looking and listening to people and trying to figure out where they are from. I have to say, I’ve gotten pretty good at it; before I’d have no clue (my guesses ranged from London to America to South Africa and Ireland). And there are so many tell tale signs – not to sound stereotypical, but a certain shaped nose here or a annunciation of an “I” there and you really learn to pin point.
And I find rather than gaze in awe at famous landmarks, I prefer to watch the people. When walking just before I found my way into the Brussels’ centre city square and after a mere moment of drinking it the gold-plated beauty of the buildings, I opted to observe all the populace pottering about. Posing for photos and having beer in bars and just being all round joyous.
I thrive on that shit.
Coming from the chaotic colour of India to the organised order of Belgium is oh so laughable. The post office experience is a case in point; when I went to a Rishikesh branch before I flew out, there was a single man with some manilla folders of postage aids. After I paid for my stamps for my two postcards and a letter, his procedure to put them on was like an (completely not-on-purpose) indecent act of fellatio. The place was dirty, dank, and he seemed to pick a price out of the air for how much I owed. But Belgium? Oh so clean and efficient and stamps attached through use of a third party wet roller! And my goodness, how good is it to have a break from bartering? Sometimes a set price is just such a relief.
And I’m just incredibly elated to be back with The Pedaller. I knew I would be, but not to the extent I find I am.
He’s booked us this amazing loft-like apartment in the centre of the city for four nights and I’m just in my element. I’ve left my laptop and diary at home, and I’ve deleted my Facebook and messenger apps from my phone (keeping my Pages app to do my social media work, but that’s acceptable). I’m going to totally chill, take each minute as it comes and just be. Absolute benediction – being in the best place with my favourite person.
Because OH HOW I LOVE BRUSSELS! I could TOTALLY live here. Like really, truly could. (Plus my name is already all over the show, so I’m taking that as a literal sign). (Plus I found Primark). (And made friends with the corner supermarket man who gave me a book titled, Beste of Belgie – like I needed anymore selling on the place).
The Pedaller and I could move into our spacious apartment (complete with my dream couch; our neighbours and friends next door in Cambridge have this incredible little posy perch that I just lush on – first thing I noticed upon walking in here was a very same-one but two-point-oh) and he could go riding and I could open up balcony studio yoga and write and go see my family in Holland and become a Brusselinian and all my friends could come and visit and…