Friday, September 14, 2007

In Brussels - II

I went out to De Brouckere area last evening to sit at a roadside cafe and have a quiet beer and a nice dinner by myself. Turned out to be anything but a quiet evening, and anything but a nice dinner.

When I took a seat, a dog came running by and hid behind my chair. After a few moments, a woman came running shouting out what seemed to be the name of a dog. She asked me (I assumed she did, since she spoke French and I do not, but I speak body language) something about a dog and I pointed behind the chair and she and the dog had a bit of a discussion. Then she left with the dog, thanking me three times.

I wanted to enjoy being in Europe, so I bought a pack of cigarettes. I opened the pack, took out and lit a cigarette and sipped my beer. A young man walked past me, turned around, came back and asked something for which there is no equivalent phrase in body language, so I had to ask him to say it again in English. He wanted a cigarette, which I gladly offered him. He thanked me and left.

After a few minutes, another man asked for a cigarette which I gladly gave him.

Then a woman came walking by and asked for something. I offered her a cigarette, but she wanted a light instead, which I gave her as well.

Then a woman who seemed to be a prostitute came by, drinking a can of beer, donning so much makeup that Andy Warhol would have been proud of her, stopped by and shouted something (she seemed a little high), again not in body language. I said I did not speak French, so she asked me whether she could have a cigarette, and I said of course she could, and she took three cigarettes and shouted that she loved me, and I said I loved her too, and she said that I should give her some money for some food in that case, and I said I did not love her that much, after which she thanked me and shouted that she still loved me and left.

The dog came running by once again, but decided not to hide behind my chair this time. After a moment of confusion it left and went back in the direction which it was trying to escape shortly before.

Then a man came by and asked for cigarettes. After I gave him the cigarettes, I decided to keep the pack in my bag.

I smoked half a cigarette.

I gave away seven cigarettes.

Then I had the most expensive crappy food I have ever had in my life -- some sort of vegetarian spaghetti.

I ended the De Brouckere stint with an Orange brandy, which was so good that I am trying to find a bottle to take home.

On the way back to the tram station, I came across a very talented singer, strumming the guitar and singing. Now, I may come across as a very extroverted person sometimes, but I have my shy side, and it usually comes out in places which I am not familiar with -- parties where I don't know people, foreign countries and the like. My initial instinct was to walk away from the man, even though I liked the music, because I didn't know what to do. However, I decided to tell my instincts to go take a hike, sat on a bench next to the man, acknowledged him and listened to his rendition of Layla, clapped very loudly when he finished, and gave him a Euro, to which he thanked me. I wanted to listen more, but I did not have too many Euros left so I left. Anurag: 1, Instincts: 0.

Evenings spent alone are the most happening, I think.


At 10:57 AM, Blogger Anki said...

was waiting for this post

At 1:22 PM, Blogger Renovatio said...

I really wonder what that dog was up to. What breed was it? For some reason I'm picturing a pom running from an auntie.

Don't say I didn't warn you about the french speaking :p

At 1:41 AM, Blogger kakkar said...

that is really funny. i usually give away cigarettes, and even in the US people keep asking me for cigarettes. i used to wonder why people kept coming to me and not to the person walking with me or sitting next to me. no, it is not only at times when i am smoking myself - it happens all the time. i believe it has something to do with my face. perhaps people with single eyebrows look like smokers. anyway i have started carrying an extra box with fewer cigarettes to ration the amount i give away. i call it the "bumbox" (not exactly politically correct, but the name's stuck).

looking forward to seeing you both again, buddy.

At 2:11 PM, Blogger Senthil said...

I dunno about evenings spent alone, but roaming around in strange places alone definitely is very happening. I, for example, was asked by a young sadhu in Haridwar once if I wanted to go smoke the, um, peace pipe with him.

So, we meet up for a communal smoke this week, what?

At 10:15 PM, Blogger Anurag said...

anki: You were? Good it came, then.

renovatio: It was a very old retriever.

kakkar: Hahaha, about the single eyebrow comment. We meet in another couple of week, huh?

senthil: Yes, let's get together sometime, though I would like to continue abstaining from smoking.

At 3:51 PM, Blogger rads said...

Lived in Brussels a few years, and smoking's like drinking water. btw, did you notice no matter what u order, wine, beer, water,. they all cost the same? :)

asking for cigarettes is apparently quite common! You could approach and they'd hand it out to u, no questions/eyebrows raised :)


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