News - October 11, 2012

Ik ben kwijt

Two weeks ago I got lost on the way from Utrecht station to the IND-office. Somehow I made a decision on a whim: to ask for directions in Dutch. Such an unwise idea made a 10-min walk into an arduous march.

I didn't have smart phone, so a 12cm*8cm map in the A4 route instruction by IND was my only guide. The office on the map was a grey dot beside a long dark grey stripe, which was Catherijnesingel. But I mistook it as Oudegracht.
After walking along the canal for more than 20 minutes, I stopped at a street corner and asked myself: 'am I on the right way?' I went into a bakery across the street for help. Three women were chatting there. 'Goedemiddag mevrouwen. Ik ben kwijt. Kunnen jullie me de weg naar Bergstraat wijzen?' While I was proud of myself speaking Dutch so fluently, they burst into laughter.' 'Jij bent kwijt?' They asked me back. 'Ja!' I answered confidently, which made them laugh louder. Anyway, they warmly showed me the way with a real 'plattegrond' and told me it's near the police station.
With their help, I found the police station smoothly. However, it's located at a crossroad; I didn't know if I should turn left or right. I asked a man passing by and he pointed towards the right side. Unfortunately the right side turned out to be the wrong side and lead me to the middle of nowhere again. I didn't want to give up my road-asking game in Dutch. I resorted to a Suriname-like women, but I couldn't understand though I pretend I did. I then went back to the police station and tried the left side. Luckily this time on the way I bumped into a Dutch couple and they told me it was just around the corner. Thank goodness, after a hour's journey, finally I got there.
Later I shared the adventure with my corridor mates. They couldn't help laughing when I came to the story in the bakery. 'Did I make any jokes? The women in the bakery laughed as loud as you,' I was confused. But after their explanation, I laughed too: I said something totally different from what I meant. 'Ik ben kwijt' literally means 'I lost myself' in Dutch. The correct expression could be 'Ik ben verdwaald' (I'm strayed). But whatever, it was a wonderful trip.