Archive for October 8th, 2012

Synchronicities in Amsterdam

October 8, 2012 in Uncategorized | Comments (6)

 

 

It was nice to be back last week in Amsterdam’s  Ambassade Hotel,

 

 

 

 

twenty years after my wife and I first stayed there

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with our daughter, who was then less than a year old.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ambassade is just the same, a quiet little place with books everywhere.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s said to be Amsterdam’s most ‘literary’ hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is on one of Amsterdam’s most picturesque canals, the Herengracht.

 

 

 

 

As I was taking this picture there was an extraordinary instance of what Jung calls ‘synchronicity’ – a much better term than ‘coincidence’ (for more on this see my posts of 23/09/2011; 25/09/2011 & especially, 05/10/2011  ‘Tyranny of the Probable‘).

 

 

 

 

 

I turned around to find myself face to face with someone I had not seen since my first stay in the Ambassade, twenty years earlier:

 

 

 

 

Janneke van der Meulen, my first Dutch translator (sadly her version of The Shadow Lines never saw the light of day).

 

She just happened to be walking by when she saw me. Like the Ambassade Hotel, she is completely unchanged.

 

 

I was reminded of that earlier stay again, when I met up with

 

 

 

Bas Heijne, who is now a prominent writer in Holland (his column appears weekly on page 2 of NRC Handelsblad).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bas had stayed with me in Kolkata earlier but in this picture he is meeting my daughter for the first time,

 

 

 

in his own home in Amsterdam in 1992.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A still older synchronicity was responsible for a meeting with

 

 

two old friends, Rekha Wazir and Ashwani Saith, who are both originally from Delhi. Rekha now works for a Dutch non-profit and Ashwani, who is an economist, was for many years with the International Institute of Social Studies at the Hague.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met them through Ashwani’s brother Sanjeev (Bete) Saith, who is an old friend from my college days.  A talented musician and photographer, Bete was also a publisher for a while: the first book he published was Arundhati Roy’s God of Small Things. So far as I remember it was he who took the picture that figures in the book’s striking cover.

 

 

But long before that, in 1985, he took my first author picture.

 

photo Sanjeev Saith

 

It was for the first Indian edition of The Circle of Reason (which was published by Roli Books, New Delhi).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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