Thursday, July 21, 2011


334. "6:30 pm at Grand Place. Bring a book so I can recognize you ;)" goes my draft email, the second half a silly suggestion for an Australian ex whom I have known for almost ten years and a joke completely lost on Gaston, the newly-appointed personal adviser after Tintin's departure. "Why a book?" Gaston wants to know. "There are plenty of people who carry books with them. Tell him to bring a bottle of champagne!"

335. "Are you coming to work tomorrow?" Cassandra has asked me yesterday. Thinking that my office-mate was making fun of me for my recently-adopted act of disappearance at work, I smiled. "Why not. Aren't you?" "No," Cassandra replied, much to my surprise, which must have been written all over my face, because she continued, "It's Belgium's National Day."

Waking up this morning, as I try to figure out why the significant date has bypassed me after almost two years of living in Brussels, it occurs to me that exactly a year ago today, CS and I flew back to Australia, either a complete coincidence or subconsciously we must have decided that it was the best way to celebrate the holiday. Gaston, one of the few friends of mine that are actually Belgian, has another way of to enjoy his National Day: playing Wii. In between games, we watch the news, which show snippets of Parc Royale under the bright sun, people cheerfully milling around with little tri-color flags in hands, wandering from beer stalls to waffle stations, clearly proud to be Belgian. Looking at them, I suddenly feel the urge to be part of the patriotic celebration. Parc Royale here I come.

Half an hour later. I am trapped in the soaking wet, densely packed crowd, awkwardly trying to avoid umbrellas sticking out from all directions, alternating between, "Pardon!", when accidentally stepping on someone's foot, and, "Ouch!", when being stepped on. Due to the perfect timing between the Belgian government, the weather, and myself, I have arrived at Parc Royale just in time for the military parade and the pouring rain.
Belgium in a nutshell.

You know a parade is exciting when you start taking pictures of your wet shoes.

Parade? What parade? This is a thinly veiled attempt to break the Guinness World Record of How Many Suckers We Can Get To Stand Almost Stationary For An Extended Period of Time Under The Rain Simultaneously.
If everything goes according to plan, on the next Belgium's National Day I will most likely have long gone from Brussels. If not, I might be coming to work that day.

336. 11:30 pm. Watching fireworks with Lily, I from my window, she from hers. To quote Calvin, great experiences are even better when shared. But, of course the loquacious six-year-old made this remark to Hobbes, his imaginary tiger, when they were watching a bug being eaten alive by another bug.
Fireworks, seen from a distant window, also known as Reason #14 Why I Need A Better Camera. (And a better photographing skill.)

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