Parcum-Abdij van Park – Leuven NMBS – Gentbrugge Braemstraat

Parcum – Abdij van Park 7
3001 Leuven
02 November 2017

My family

Leuven NMBS
02 November 2017

Still working on the platform !

Waiting for the Oostende via Gent train

All station train to Brussel

Gentbrugge Braemstraat
Stad Gent – Farys
03 November 2017

Hilly Flanders !

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue


440.The Man in Blue – Vlissingen – Domburg – Middelburg

Before travelling to Vlissingen I had agreed with my cousin Marie that we would go for walks on the sandy beaches on the west side of Walcheren, the island on which Vlissingen is situated. The beaches and dunes are a great asset for walkers, horse riders and ‘beach bums’. They also protect the island against flooding.

I arrived in Vlissingen on the Saturday at about 1 pm and as the weather forecast for Sunday and Monday was not good we decided to have a quick lunch and then make for the nearest beach.

South of Walcheren the Westerschelde, the estuary of the river Schelde, joins the North Sea. The shipping lane used by vessels going to and from the Belgian port of Antwerp runs here near the beach. Across the Westerschelde you can see Zeeuws Vlaanderen, the part of Zeeland that is on the Flemish mainland.

We walked and talked. We walked along the beach, enjoyed the sunshine and the views across the Westerschelde. We talked, and talked and then talked even more. Due to my 14 years outside the Netherlands we had a lot to catch up on.

The three days with cousin Marie showed how important a family member can be.  Marie and I can talk so easily because we know each other’s background, we understand each other because we have known each other virtually from birth.

On the Sunday the weather was not as bad as predicted. It was windy (it often is in Zeeland) and cloudy but it did not rain. Together with Marie’s eldest daughter we went to Domburg, the oldest resort on the Walcheren coast, where various venues hosted a jazz festival.

It was good to meet Karen, who I had seen a couple of years ago but did not really get a chance to talk to. She fits in the musical tradition of her side of the family. I enjoyed listening to Karen playing violin and her mother accompanying her on the piano. In Domburg we listened to jazz, had chips, went for another walk on the beach and then left Karen at the restaurant where she works.

On the Monday morning I walked along the Westerschelde to Vlissingen station. It was very windy ! On the way I met a young black man who wanted to know who and what I was. We came to the conclusion that we both try the serve the One.

The bus driver who took me back to Vlissingen also asked me questions about my traditional outfit, and we had a nice conversation. During my three days on Walcheren nobody called me Osama Bin Laden and nobody gave me hostile looks.

In the afternoon I took the bus to Middelburg, the capital of Zeeland. I walked through the old city on to where we were having dinner. I met Marie’s husband and her younger daughter and after the meal I went with Marie to attend a session of the small orchestra that she and Karen are part of (To be continued).

439.The Man in Blue – Sint-Truiden to Vlissingen

On Saturday 18 September I went by bus from Halmaal to Sint-Truiden and took the train from there to Brussel Zuid (South). From Brussel there is an hourly intercity train to Amsterdam, with has its first stop in the Netherlands in Roosendaal.

The Benelux intercity has to run on two different voltages and drives on the left in Belgium and on the right in the Netherlands. In Roosendaal I changed onto the ‘stoptrein’ to Vlissingen, where my cousin Marie collected me from the station.

The trip worked out well in spite of the fact that all three trains ran a bit late and in spite of the fact that I had to wait 29 minutes in Sint-Truiden, 48 minutes in Brussel and 18 minutes in Vlissingen. I left from near the Gurdwara on the bus at 07.47 and was due to arrive in Vlissingen at 12.45. But of the official 5 hours travel I was actually waiting in railway stations for about an hour and a half.

In spite of delays and waiting time I still far prefer public transport over travelling by car, where you are a captive in a tin box and are subject to increasingly gridlocked roads, especially around Brussel and Antwerpen.

But if public transport does not improve its performance both on main and branch lines, the car addicts will keep clogging up the roads, and will keep demanding more and more roads, until small and densely populated countries like Belgium and the Netherlands are one big gridlocked motorway !

I went to Vlissingen to visit my cousin Marie, who I had not seen for years. She is the daughter of my father’s elder sister, and my family and hers have always been very close. In 1953 when our ancestral village was flooded for about a year, her father, mother, brother and the maiden aunt had to leave the island our family has lived on since at least 1200.

We lived in Roermond in the Dutch province of Limburg, where there were no floods and Marie’s family of 5 stayed in our small house with our family of 3 for the best part of a year.

As I had no brothers and sisters of my own I was very happy with the new arrivals. It was more of a strain on my parents, especially on my mother who instead of having her own way in her small house coping with a small family, was now dealing almost 24 hours a day with her husband’s family and their way of doing things.

My mother was an Amsterdam city girl, my father and his family came from a small village on what was then a rather isolated island in the province of Zeeland. She liked her new family, she liked the village, but her ways were different from theirs. And this was not a holiday stay, this lasted almost a year. Although there were tensions during this time our families remained close to each other. Years later when my mother was dying of cancer my aunt Sara (Marie’s mother) was part of the team of family members nursing her. (To be continued)