Queen’s Day

30th April is Queen’s Day(or Koninginnedag) in Holland, the Queen’s birthday. Actually, not the present Queen’s birthday, rather her mother’s. But anyways, every year on 30th April, Amsterdam goes bananas.

By bananas I mean the city and its people do certain things which I definitely consider bananas. The town is painted (or rather decorated) orange. People wear orange. Pets wear orange. Why? Because “orange” figures somewhere in the name of the royal family. The entire city erupts into a wild party and booze flows like water from morning itself. The city center gets converted into one big flea market. On 30th April some civic rules are ignored. You can park anywhere you want. You do not need a license to sell something on the street. So people get all their year’s junk, sit with it on the streets of Amsterdam and try and sell it to other people. Whatever does not get sold usually is left on the street. The next day is a royal mess, pun intended. Huge speakers blaring techno music are assembled at every corner, and also between corners, and people dance on the street as if there is no tomorrow. In fact, for some, there will indeed not be a tomorrow since they will most probably wake up the day after.

However, this year, things have turned out to be quite different. On our way back from the Keukenhof spring garden, our tour guide informed us that there was an attack on the Royal family. A car tried to ram into the open bus carrying the royal family killing four and injuring many others before it rammed into a stone monument. See video here. The mood of the city changed instantly. Flags were flying half mast. Instead of people dancing on the streets, we could see them sitting down with the music turned off. Some started leaving for home. In fact the train that I took from Amsterdam back to Leiden was packed to the brim with people wearing orange.

There were some pockets of music and dancing, but I guess people were simply disillusioned by what had just happened. This is a sad day, completely different from what it was supposed to be. This morning, on my way to the tour pickup point, I saw a huge arena being constructed in one of the city’s open spaces. One of the world’s top DJ’s was to perform there at night. I am not sure if that event is still on.

Initial reports suggest that this was not a terrorist attack, at least, the kind of terrorist attack that comes to mind the moment we hear something like this. My thoughts and prayers go to the families of those who have been traumatized by this event.