My instructions for meeting
my LETS host, Nico, at the Amsterdam Centraal railway station were
quite clear �
> Tomorrow I hope to
see your train arriving and to meet you at the platform. If anything
might happen and no one seems to be waiting for you, please go the
restaurant at the first platform. (it is the Grand Caf�/Brasserie
with an old fashioned and rather authentic interior; not the Burger
King or anything like that).
So when I didn't see him
waiting for me, I went off in search of platform one. But it didn't
exist! The platform numbers started at no. 2. Fortunately I found
the Grand Caf�/Brasserie on platform 2 and so I took a quick look
inside. When no-one seemed interested in me, I took my luggage back
outside and just waited by the entrance.
Then I thought, maybe he
can't recognize me because of my recently grown beard? So I stuck
my head inside the door again. There, right in front of me, was a
young man sitting on his own. Could this be Nico? He glanced at me,
then looked away. I'd better find out, I thought. So I went up to
him and asked, "Are you Nico?"
"Yes," he replied.
"I'm James. You're waiting
He sort of swallowed, looked
a bit nervous and said, "No, I'm not."
"You're Nico?" I repeated.
And just so there couldn't be any confusion I added, "I'm James Taris."
"Yes my name is Nico. And
I know this seems to be an extraordinary coincidence. But I don't
know you," he insisted.
Well, I was getting a little
nervous by that time. Then I remembered what Nico had written in another
> On Friday evening
and the whole Saturday I will be elsewhere. I hope to welcome you
at the Centraal station on Friday and I will bring you to my apartment,
show you the house, give you the keys, etc. We will have dinner
then, together, if you like. I will have to leave at 18.30 hours
to work as a volunteer on a country estate with a group of friends.
Maybe this was just a screening
exercise. Maybe he wasn't happy seeing this strange grey bearded guy
at the station and had decided I could not be trusted to stay alone
at his house after all.
I looked at my watch again.
Nico was aware that I was arriving at 3.00pm, and it was already 3.10pm.
With all these doubts going 'round in my mind, I once again ventured
outside the caf�. I would wait until 3.30 � 4.00pm max! Then if there
was no other Nico I would get back on the train bound for my next
I turned back and just caught
sight of Nico leaving the restaurant. Damn, I thought. Looks like
he's not going to change his mind.
Every minute after that
was like waiting a lifetime. But lo and behold, 5 lifetimes later,
I noticed a smiling face walking towards me. And before I could say
anything, the most beautiful words in the world came from those lips.
"James Taris?", he said
"Nico!" I responded. Then
instantly I realized what had just taken place minutes before. I'd
successfully embarrassed a guy who must've thought I was trying to
pick him up!