I have been a professional writer for five years.

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I’ve been drawn to illustrious and bloody (literally, not offensively) history of Dutch and Indonesia for the past few months, due to the fact that I had to do some research for my final project. That research lead me into temptation to look with my own eyes what kind of country those ‘londo’ came from (‘londo’ is a Javanese vernacular word to mention Dutch occupiers many years ago. It derived from the word ‘Belanda’ which mean Netherland in Indonesian language). I also lured to Amsterdam by the art and architecture. Vermeer and van Gogh are two of my favorite artists and I could say that I got bitten by 'museum bug' and already planned a lot of museum visit while in Europe.

After some meticulous research in the internet, I found out at the time I would be in Netherland, there was going to be North Sea Jazz Festival! I yelped a bit and excitedly open the website. More yelps while I read the name of artists planned to perform. I must go there, I said to myself back then in Scarlett O’Hara-y pledge, “As God as my witness, I will go to Ahoy Rotterdam and see North Sea Jazz”.

So after four hours in the train, most time spent by watching buildings, fields and plenty of cows in B&W version, I arrived in Amsterdam. My backpack was heavy and loaded, my heart was beating faster. A good sign. I was supposed to meet my couchsurfer host in the Centraal Station. Hang on, rewind a bit. What is a couchsurfer, you might ask.

Before I departed for Europe, I found this website in the internet and still could not believe my luck that I joined it on time (http://www.couchsurfing.com/). The philosophy is simple. You sign up to be a member, fill a profile and if you have a plan to go somewhere, anywhere on earth and there are happen to be a couchsurfing member there, you can ask them to let you stay in their couch or showing you around. It all depends on them and you, whether it works out or not. In favour, you also have to be willing to host or show around fellow couchsurfer when they come to your place. I had a fantastic time in Netherland because of it and urge you, fellow traveler, to join this fantastic website, of course if your destination when you travel is to learn the local culture and meeting people. If you just want to snap pictures in front of famous landmark, shop till drop and finish Europe in two weeks inside a bus, you might as well forget this paragraph.

Back to Amsterdam, I succeed to met my host, Putri. She happens to be an Indonesian but born and raised in Amsterdam. She kindly took me in and let me stay at her home. After a quick tour around the Centraal Station, canals and quick stop in ice cream shop, I went back to the Station and continue my journey to Rotterdam. The trip took about an hour. I was a bit worried about how to get to Ahoy building right on time and I even haven’t got the ticket at that time! What if it sold out? Many ‘what if’ but I stepped down anyway. My fear turned out to be totally unneccessary since “NORTH SEA JAZZ 2007” signs were everywhere! I gladly followed arrows, signs and even the music since a jazz quartet performed in the station. I started to feel ‘all that jazz’ and couldn’t help but smiling all the way.

Along the way I met an American couple (definition: they spoke English in American accent, loud voice and keep glancing at the subway map) named Joe and Nancy. We walked together to Ahoy. Time was 3 p.m and the gate wouldn’t be open until 6pm. I got to buy the insanely expensive daily ticket (one daily pass in North Sea Jazz ticket = three day pass in Java Jazz Festival. That expensive) plus special show for that day, Wynton Marsalis and Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

I walked around a bit and Rotterdam was a totally different city from Amsterdam. For one, it was full of beautiful newly-built buildings instead of old houses and canals that surrounded Amsterdam. Unfortunetely I didn’t get to see a lot of the city since my priority at that moment was North Sea Jazz and I didn’t want to miss it even a little bit. After a hearty lunch in a small Surinam restaurant I went back to Ahoy.

And ahoy! People started to come in waves. There was a jazz band performing in the front of the building. I looked at my performance schedule and only recognised a few names. Feeling defeated and ashamed I asked a guy beside me whether he has any recommendation. It turns out he saved my day. He knows everyone in the list! He pointed, I ticked it off. And he gave me the best advice: Stick to show you enjoy instead of moving around and trying to see everything because after that you’re just going to feel exhausted and had no memory recollection of one ultimate show you enjoyed the best. He smiled and said “Trust me, I’ve been doing that for the first few years and always regret that”. Of course I followed his advice. After all he has been to North Sea Jazz since it was begun on 1976. He’s the North Sea Jazz veteran. I picked the right man.

The first show I watched was The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. I always loved big band and never seen one live on stage so it was really a moving experience. I stayed until the end and couldn’t help but admire how these people really love jazz. They were true jazzophile. They understand jazz, unlike the bunch who comes to Java Jazz Festival back home. Most of them just got nothing better to do on Saturday night and since it was the most happening event in town, they were all flocked there. I started to sounds like a jazz widow who disses at teenagers passing through but oh well, who cares as long as they are going to held it annually.

I paused to look around and finally grabbed a beer (sponsored by Grolsch beer). A young couple from England joined me and we talked a little bit. They told me it used to be held in open-air and this is only the second year where they have it in Ahoy Rotterdam. Much better acoustic sounds but they said they missed the whole relax and laid-back nature of jazz back then. We had a brief discussion on how some people just despise jazz. When I said ‘we’ it meant mostly those couple (Sarah and Wills) because I was lostly enchanted with their melodious British accent. For the most part I only said un-aristocratic words like, “Huh?” and when I told them naïvely what I thought about their accent, they bursted into L.O.L. “We think your accent is the cute one, darling. (pronounced like, ‘dah-ling’. Awww…) Brits accents just down right pompous”.

I spent the rest of the night lullabied by beautiful scat vocalist, Roberta Gambarini (plus special mystery guess that night, Dee Dee Bridgewater herself!); blown up into the sky by Wynton Marsalis and Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra; sneaked and tried to caught a glimpse of India Arie; buoyed by Jason Mraz; and sadly had to end the night given that I would have to catch the train to Amsterdam. I bid goodbye to Ahoy along with my shopping spree of the day. Oops, did I tell you they sold jazz CDs for only 5 euros EACH inside? Even for my pitiable rupiah I could still consider it a delight.

I ended the night in train, watching the dark nothingness from the window and had a chat with a nice Dutch girl named Hilke. Putri generously picked me up in front of then neglected Centraal Station. That night, in my borrowed Amsterdam sanctuary for the next four days, I slept like dead. The jazz somehow still trapped inside my head and I remembered vaguely that I tried to scat before I closed my eyes. It went like this: “syoo-be-doo-doo-para-papa-tee-ya…” and I stopped. Wonder how those scat singer could still singing and rhyming at the same time. Hmm…

1 komentar:

Unknown said...

great blog; for those of us who will probably not make it to the njf. for roberta go to www.wenjaz.blogspot.com

wen in santa monica