Saturday, July 21, 2007

A nice diversion: second dinner with Frank

Frank and I went out to dinner again last night, Friday night. I knew I would need a diversion from studying for my final exams on Saturday - or alternatively, from obsessing and worrying about them.

I've been wearing my hair up because it is so humid here, even when it is not raining. However, last night, I wore my hair down. Big mistake. Frank was running late so he met me at 19:45 at the apartment. By that time, it was POURING down rain in buckets. We each had our own umbrella. Frank is so tall (approx. 6 ft. 4 in.) that even if he were holding an umbrella for us to share, I'd get wet. The weather was crazy - even with the umbrella the arms of my sweater were soaking wet by the time we got to the restaurant. Also, I only brought sandals with me (planning for Rome, where they currently are experiencing a deadly heat wave). My feet got so wet that they were sliding around inside my shoes. It was difficult walking on the uneven cobblestone streets and I was afraid I would end up twisting my ankle - or something more graceful (not!) like falling on my butt. However, we safely made it to the restaurant - and Frank was kind enough not to mention that my previously good-hair-day had gone very wrong.

The restaurant was a chic, yet casual, nouveau cuisine-type place. Frank had lamb, with, I assume, mint sauce on top. I had a fantastically underdone (as it should be) piece of salmon on top of a bed of sauted spinach and roasted carrots and potatoes. I enjoyed it very much.

Again, like our first meeting, Frank and I have spirited and intelligent conversation (at least I think so), mostly about his job and debating politics and philosophy. Although I enjoy these conversations very much, I'm going to have to ban them from our next meeting so that I can learn more about Frank's day to day life and Dutch culture in general. He is intelligent, witty, downright funny, and kind. At the end of the evening, Frank offered to introduce me to some other Dutch people and maybe take a trip or two out of the city to see the countryside, which I appreciate.

Despite my best intentions to immerse myself in the culture here, I have only conversed with a few Dutch people in passing - like an elderly gentleman at a bus stop who didn't speak English so we spoke French together. Many times, I end up speaking to strangers on the street only to find that they are British or French or German. This is a very cosmopolitan city. That is why I am very grateful for my evenings with Frank. They give me the opportunity to go beyond being a normal tourist, gawking at the canals and marijuana shops, and to learn something deeper about the Netherlands and its people.

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