It happened on the first day that I got to the Netherlands, the very first day that I got to the country, or wait, no, let me think, I got here on a Saturday… I remember it as if it was yesterday… I got to Schiphol, took the Intercity to Holland Spoor and there changed for Delft. And of course I missed the station, with all my luggage, all my life, packed. I missed the station, got off in Rijswijk and took the Sprinter back to Delft, places I couldn’t even pronounce the names of. But I can now, I can even say Wageningen, Scheveningen or even ‘s-Hertogenbosch… [long silence]

Delft. It was still the old station, not this new shiny underground thing, and I had come from Tehran. [silence]. Tehran, do you hear me? I had come from Tehran, with 14 million people, heartless, mayhem, drugged, brutally drunk, fierce survival of the fittest... I got out of the station in Delft, stood on the stairs and looked, at the peace, at the quiet, at the fairy tale in front of my eyes. And I felt relieved, I felt like I was saved, saved, from a 14-million-head monster, who breathes out thick smoke, smells like gasoline, and feeds off people’s lungs and hearts…

So yeah, that was the first day, Saturday, then on Sunday, I just chilled, I contemplated the change, I became familiar with the concept of Albert Heijn, and then on Monday, I went to work, and that’s when it happened, so not my first day but the third, to be precise. On Monday, I went to work at TUDelft, and on that very first day at work, I was introduced to something, or someone, depending on how you look at it, by my colleague.

What could that be? Something that my colleague thought I needed to know about this new place. Something like a Dutch wonder? Maybe, but not the windmills, and definitely not the croquette either. Can you guess?

Make a guess, come on, just give me a guess, my first days in the Netherlands, and my Dutch colleague who shares the office with me, introduces me to something, Dutch I suppose. Come on, help me with this, make a guess, wild guess, wild [silence].

My first days in the country, still in awe, with the flatness of the land, with the beauty of the canals, dark, running everywhere like veins of a huge creature, as big as a whole country, the bikes, the clouds and the starless nights that they make, the rain and the wind, like two good old friends, beating you hard, together, like a gang of two, the lunch, the height of the people, the Nordic self-consciousness.

Come on, make a guess, wild guess, wild. My first days in the country, the third to be precise, and Andreas tells me about something that he thinks I need to know about this new place, and he was doing his PhD, as educated as it gets, you could almost call him a “scientist”, by now he’s most probably a professor in some prestigious university, maybe Utrecht where he lived, or Leiden, or even Delft, or maybe he’s a senior consultant in a multinational consultancy firm, or maybe he’s both, he’s definitely one of them people who are in the position of ‘shaping the future’.

Come on. Make a guess. Wild guess. Get cynical. Get realistic. Get real. Get wild. Give me a wild guess… wild… wild… wilder… wildest… wilederst… wileders… Wilders… Geertje?