Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Eindhoven Conversations

The Eindhoven cab driver doesn't like his hometown. I am the lucky one staying in Utrecht, he says in a melancholic way as if he were living in a shantytown.

Can I see? Eindhoven is all like this. Tiny skyscrapers. Large avenues. Lines of trees. Coffee addicted commuters. Neon lighted offices. A city of dead souls. A boring place branded Philips.

- Well, it's a modern place. - I reckon.
- Yes, a modern one - confirms the cab driver.
And he looks quite disgusted by this kind of modernity.

I wonder if the local tourist office knows about this man promoting Eindhoven in such a way.
They might care.

I don't like cabs and I tend to don't take them. But there is a two days strike of public transport in Holland and no bus were waiting at the central station. I didn't know anything about that.
- Good for me. - says the man in his taxi.

And for a moment or two he looks optimist, forgetting how much he dislikes his hometown.
We are waiting at a red light.
On our right side two symmetric bell towers emerge from the rooftops shining in the sun. A six seated tandem crosses the street with six cute girls cycling on it. Eindhoven tries to be nice.

But then comes the green light.
- I really can't stand Eindhoven. I should move to Utrecht - mumbles the cab driver.
- Oh yes, you should - I sympathize with him.

I am sharing this cab to the airport with a forty something Spanish woman. She carries a backpack taller than her. Apparently she doesn't know any English.

- Are you a tourist? - asks her our driver.
- Si, tourist! - she nods vigorously.
- Where have you been in the Netherlands?
The woman shakes her head.
- It was not a yes or no question. - Mr. Cab Driver says
The Spaniard looks lost.

Yet, the man at the steering wheel insists. I am surprised. He is definitely the most talkative fellow I've met in Holland so far.
- I mean, where have you been? Amsterdam?
The woman smiles. She is clearly relieved.
- Si, Amsterdam! - she announces.

Meanwhile, we are getting closer to the airport.
The radio plays a hit from the eighties. Lionel Ritchie, I suppose.
Me and the Spaniard keep silent. The Eindhoven cab driver coughs a couple of times as to suggest an intermission in our lack of conversation.

I would like to talk, but the magnificent suburbs along the motorway are taking my attention span. It's unbelievable how everywhere you go in the Netherlands the public housing architecture is more or less the same. Red bricked buildings of two floors with a small garden at the entrance, no curtains at the windows and "Te Koop" or "Te Huur" panels here and there.
We might be in Breda, Haarlem, Alkmaar, Sittard instead of in Eindhoven. And Utrechtland, I am sorry for the dreamy cab driver, makes no exception.

Then we reach the airport which looks like a bus station in an industrial area.
The cab driver takes the money and helps us with our backpacks.

- Have a nice travel - he says behind his Dutch sunglasses.
- Si, travel! - the Spaniard exclaims.

Our taxi disappears in a queue of others coming back to the fake city of Eindhoven.

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