I can see behind my head. As I am walking on the cobble stone square in front of the 350 year old Royal Palace of Amsterdam, I see this kid walking right behind me. You see I have a 340-degree field of view. The kid is floating soap bubbles in the air. The bubbles keep expanding and going up towards the summer sky. There is a wind blowing. The bubbles are now flying away fast with the wind. One of the bubbles is growing really big. I can see through my orange eyes that the kid is chasing the bubble excitedly. The bubble is growing bigger and bigger. The kid gets more and more excited. And then all of a sudden the bubble bursts.
Well - all bubbles finally do burst. The Tulip mania was one such bubble. It happened in the seventeenth century right here. It was around the time the Royal Palace was going to be built. The prices of tulips kept rising due to speculation. Suddenly you could become very rich. At its peak 40 bulbs of the high quality tulips were worth as much as a thousand tons of butter! It was complete madness. Some tulip bulbs changed hands ten times in a day. And then the bubble burst quite abruptly.
Crowds can go mad. I try to stay away from crowds, especially mad crowds.
I don’t need bubbles for excitement. My heart beats 700 times per minute.
I can fly 600 miles per day at an average of 50 miles per hour. My bones are hollow. They say I am more agile than a shark. I am now flying above the Madame Tussaud building. I can see everything clearly. There are two wax figures standing outside on the 4th floor. I know they are not human since they are not moving. There are two red colored trucks parked on the square. They are selling hot dogs, meatballs and hamburgers. There is a big line of people waiting next to the trucks.
I can smell the hot dogs from a distance. I also smell weed. The unhealthy stinking smell of weed pervades the air. I see young teenagers smoking. I think this is another bubble. But this bubble is more dangerous – it is going to burst people’s lungs.
The square is very busy in summer. Tourists come from all parts of the world. They take pictures of the old buildings. I know each one of these buildings. I have sat on top of each one of them gazing down at the square for hours. The ABN AMRO building on one edge has a lighted sign on top. There is a Rabobank in another corner. The Royal Palace stands in the middle. There is symmetry in front of the palace. Four light stands are in front, equally spaced.
The square gets lit up as evening approaches. A Swarovski shop has shiny crystal lights. The H&M shop has mannequins wearing the latest fashionable dresses. In the middle of the square there is a dude with painted face, dressed like an Indian god with a “trishool” in hand. He stands motionless like a statue as people drop coins in amusement.
There are kids running around. There is music playing everywhere. I can hear every sound. In fact I can hear sounds that are 200 times lower than what ordinary humans can hear. I can tell if a storm is approaching.
Sometimes I fly all the way up to the Central Station. I like that place. It is always busy with commuters and tourists. Behind the Central Station is the Ferry terminal. And across the waterfront is the tall building with swings on top. It is called A’dam Lookout. The view is fantastic from the sky deck. The swings go a 100 feet over the edge. They say these are the highest swings in Europe.
The Dutch way to get around the city is on a bike. Amsterdam is bicycle friendly. People say there are about as many bikes as the number of residents in Amsterdam, perhaps even more. Around 15000 bikes are salvaged from the canals annually.
I like to fly along the canals. Amsterdam has 165 canals that run for more than 30 miles. There are over 1200 bridges connecting the islands. Technically the city is 6 feet below sea level. The canals were dug up in the 17th century during the expansion of commerce that required transportation of goods. The wealthy built beautiful houses along the canals. I like to sit on top of some of these beautiful old houses. The canals are a very popular tourist attraction.
Fortunately I don’t need a bike or boat to get back home. I have an internal navigation system in my head. I can sense my position relative to the position of the sun and the stars. I can sense the earth’s magnetic field.
I never get lost. I always find my way back home. Home sweet home.
I am a city pigeon. Amsterdam is home for me.