‘ t Oude Pothuys

A smoky grey candle was blinking on the worn and scratched table… Some of us sit next to the round table in one of the hidden basement corners of the ’t Oude Pothuys…The sound of tonight’s band fills the background as it slowly merges with the clashes of a dozen or so beer glasses. Thousands of stories painted the shabby walls grey with the up-rising cigarette smoke. A sequence of new stories can be heard from our table. In front of me Richard is chatting with Romana, while Dom’s tired half-closed eyelids follows Dan’s and my conversation. The two Sicilian girls’ eyes shine brightly next to me, in the fading candle light. Carla is listening to us, while Martina holds my hand and slowly places her head on my shoulders…- Probably it hit me for the first time at the beginning of March that from now one we will have to count the months backward. – I say to Dan while a sip of Coke slides down my throat. – Even this has to end once – adds my colleague from Cambridge. This cannot last forever. In a way I already got used to the thought of having to resume my life back home – continued my British mate. All this has to end, because we are not living normal lives. Everyone should experience this once in their lifetime to see what all this is about – I say. My blond friend stops for a second while he sips from his beer glass. Probably if everyone would go trough this once, there wouldn’t be any wars anymore…- Yes Dan, because we learn to cherish the person. We came here from every corner of the world. We never quite fit in Dutch society but we created our own international world, where everyone found his place. Although when going home we’ll be like all our countrymen, still for some reason will be different and distant. They won’t fully understand what we’ve gone through…Our conversation went on for a couple of minutes until it slowly got lost in the noisy cigarette smoke. This is not a normal world, it’s not what you are used to but it’s a lot more human. What next? We only have two months left…Who are we going to be on our return? Questions the answers of which we don’t really seek as we got so many things to enjoy together…The bartender takes away the empty glasses. We are prepared to leave. Our hands unlock the bike chains. The old channel’s mirror smiles at us and lights our way home…

21st of April 2008 Utrecht

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