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Traveller's Tales

 

BIKBUS of AMSTERDAM


I am privileged to be invited to this event at the very last moment, because this rather unique event would no longer be made available, due to financial consideration. The idea basically is giving foods at subsidized price to those who do not have the luxury of life to buy in restaurants.
 

This Bikbus activity is financed or subsidized by The Red Cross of The Netherlands and run by volunteers. I was picked up by Felix to the bus-pool and drove the colorful bus with many painting of animals that have nothing, directly or indirectly, to do with the event. The bus was ex old public bus donated by the city to the Red Cross, modified and equipped with the necessary tools as a perfect mobile restaurant.

 
 
 
We drove the bus to the catering company who prepared the foods. The Red Cross pays to the catering company E 4.00 for a set of hot dinner and the people pay at subsidized price for only E 1.40, if eat at the bus, or E 1.60 if they take away the food and eat outside the premises. That particular day, the dinner was boiled potatoes, beans meat balls and kind of gravy and the desert was Yogurt with Vla ….yummy … yummy … yummy …and around 20 people turned up in the mobile Bikbus restaurant.
 
 
 
After loading the catering into the bus, we drove to the place where the bus normally parked to serves the hungry and familiar customers. The colorful bus parked around the Waterloo Plein and upon arrival there were several people already waiting patiently.
 
The people who normally come for the dinner are familiar customers, from “eccentric” to “philosopher” and the volunteers know them personally well enough. While they may look rather “unusual” however most of them come from a decent family background and having a sound knowledge of what is going on in the world.
 
 
Peter, weight around two tons with high blood sugar, coming from a well-to-do boer family (farmer) from Brabant province. He married and have two grown up children (he shown me the photo of his two boys) but divorced some years ago. His children lived with their mother down in s’Hertogen Bosch and sometimes visited Peter to cycle around Amsterdam. He support his living with E 25.00 social security a day and control his spending for up to maximum E 15.00 a day, so that he could save his money to travel around. He mentioned places in south east asia, namely Thailand, Laos and Indonesia in a great detailed. While his posture doesn’t say so, however he claimed practicing Yoga on and off. He like singing and write under the name “Brabant” and said that may be his writing will be appreciated long after he died. He is rather philosophical and said: “Freedom is to do anything you like to do and happiness is when you like of what you do….” And another master piece from him, he said: Money is good to have, but not good to talked about it….”
 
 
Unlike Peter, this “Meneer Eccentric” wear a more up-to-date leather clothing decorated with flashy metals. He think that Amsterdam is his house, for which he has the key of the town hanging nicely around his neck…..
 
 
This Meneer is well known in Amsterdam centrums and he seems to obsess with uniform and would happily wear any uniform and that day, he dressed in his favorite “army-look” uniform, complete with all sorts of medals and Army ranking.
 
Lets not under-estimated the customers of the Bikbus of Amsterdam. While there are of course, guys who “half” awake due to excessive drinking, or those who partly lived in Amsterdam and the other half lived in their own fantasy, however, we may come a crossed those who are seeking and awaiting for a job. One loyal customer was a guy who after got a job as garbage truck driver, almost never missed to have the opportunity to dine in the Bikbus to meet and continue socializing with his old buddies that still wander around the town.
 
 
While the good hearted volunteers busy serving the foods, the loyal customers of Bikbus enjoying the foods, chatting and exchanging their day experiences in the busy town of Amsterdam.
 
Typical Dutch correctness for every details, the Bikbus which is equipped with the necessary tools and hooked the bus kitchen into an electric lamp-poles along the street, to keep the foods warm:
 
 
My visit to Bikbus could not possibly happened without the supports from the following good hearted people:
 
 
Felix who volunteering to drive the bus, as well as helping the others. Felix’s real job is anything that has something to do with his hand, namely: driving tour buses, driving inter-city trains and owned the bowen-masseur and hair-removal business, in his part time.
 
 
Josh, whose face very much resemble General Musharaf, the President of Pakistan. He is a retired high-school teacher and lived in a boat-house. He started his volunteering job for Bikbus for many years and now he is the event coordinator and does just about anything to run the Bikbus:
 
 
Marja, a charming lady who owned and actively run a respectable “Net Panel-Onderzoek & Interactive Media”, yet still spare her busy time to help those who need help. She is in charged of the Bikbus restaurants serving the familiar and indeed loyal customers. Her charming smiles keep the atmosphere warm, even in winter time.
 
She is so liked by the customers of Bikbus and on that particular day, a customer walked in to buy foods and bring her flowers:
 
 
I could not take photo as much and as freely as I would like, because understandably, some customers were rather reluctant to be exposed, especially by a stranger. In the very end, Marja broke the ice and asked Peter to be photo and in exchange, she allowed Peter to kiss her … God Bless You Marja:
 
 
Felix, Josh and Marja, thank you very much and hartelijk dank from me. I wish, I could do a noble job like you guys. Believe you me: God smiles at those who whole heartedly do good things for others…!


 
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