About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

28 November 2007

Conversations with a taxi driver

For both interviews, while I took trains and planes for most of the way, the last part of the connection was always by taxi. The Swiss taxi drivers were very friendly but not very talkative. The dutch drivers were more talkative, especially the last driver (who was also the only woman taxi driver).

The last trip, my driver took some back roads, primarily to avoid traffic, and because it was apparently shorter (although I have no concrete way judging that). The trip through the back roads was also interesting because it was suburbia - she pointed out schools, different types of houses and the last, soon to be demolished, factory in the centre of Eindhoven. It was also very enlightening because it gave me an idea of what it can to rent or buy property in The Netherlands; and her opinions on why there are more renters than buyers in the property market, even though it is cheaper to buy. Apparently, it is much harder to get a mortgage, so it is difficult to finance a purchase, so even though rent could be higher than mortgage repayments, it is easier to rent than to buy.

Obviously, the dutch banks were not exposed to mortgage credit crisis in the local market ...


Better late than never ...


In many respects, I was not too happy that I only had a short time in Amsterdam (basically a day and a half). But, Amsterdam at this time of the year is not nice - it is cold, windy and grey - with the hint of an occasional drizzle. I have always wanted to visit Amsterdam, so the opportunity to visit while on my way to Eindhoven for an interview at Phillips Research was very enticing.

Above all else, some part of Amsterdam really give the sense of a medieval town - especially in the Red Light District area - cobbled stone roads, soft glow of lamps (ok, I don't think the lamps were red in most medieval towns), narrow alleyways, and small doorways.

Amsterdam does not really have a distinct skyline - there does not seem to be a particular building that dominates the skyline. It is also the first time that I have really traveled without some knowledge of what I wanted to see and do. That in itself was a very interesting and pleasant change!

In fact, one of the only attraction that I did know of, is also the one that I did not actually go to - the house (and now Museum) of Anne Frank. The queue to get in went round the block, and I just did not have enough time to actually wait in the queue, especially given the weather.

The Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museums were also other attractions I had thought of visiting - although I only found out about these after arriving in Amsterdam. The Van Gogh museum was also very crowded, and given that the entrance price was 10 Euros, I decided to only visit the Rijksmuseum.

Apart from museums and the Red Light District, one cannot mention Amsterdam without mentioning bicycles and coffee shops that sell soft drugs. For the former, the number of bicycles is absolutely staggering - I know that most people have more than one bicycle, but the number of parked bicycles and the number of cyclists on the road is simply staggering. As for the soft drugs - while I was not offered any, the number of shops selling magic mushroom and other hallucinogens is quite impressive And added to that, in some areas, some areas where there are more than one special coffee shops, the air just smells of marijuana ... I wonder if people can get high through passive breathing.

As for the interview itself - it went well, and like the previous one, I do not think I embarrassed myself. But this interview was a lot easier in some respects - there were only five interviews (although longer) plus the presentation, much of the topics of the interview was familiar as there is a lot of DRM related activities at Phillips. Unfortunately, I apparently do not fit their required profile, so did not get the job. Oh well.

Van Gogh on the Dam Square

Canals and side streets

Statue of Anne Frank (near the Museum)