Mar 13 • 10M

Electric cars, Antwerp, etc

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Taali
Taali Talk (literally) is the audio version of Taali's popular weekly newsletter. Musings every Sunday from an NYC expat living, baking and singing in Amsterdam. Bonuses include quotes from my grandmothers, feminist theory and cheeky Jewish neuroses.
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Hi, my love.

From 10:30 pm - midnight last night I was out of batteries and freezing in Putte, a tiny village that is somehow both the Netherlands and Belgium.

Obviously there was a lot of chaos that contributed to my being out of batteries and freezing in this teensy village from 10:30 pm - 12 am.

But we’ll get there later.

For now some gratitude: Thank you to you bobis who recently subscribed or converted to paid subscribers and made me shriek little excitement shrieks with every “hi! you have a new paid subscriber!” email. It is very gratifying that these here ttalks are becoming a form of actual work that can pay for my rent and postcards and things.

I really love you and I have really loved this week.

Perhaps it’s because spring just… showed tf up this week in Amsterdam? At some point I went to the fish store to get salmon for Shabbat and chanced upon this absolute king, henceforth known as the conductor of the freaking LULI EXPRESS, okay!?

Or perhaps it’s because I made not one but two jazz pies this week (RIP me fitting into my clothes) - blackberry mint and blackberry sage.

My coffeeshop bobis! pie = joy
i rest my case

Likely all of those things contributed. But let’s get back to the story: Putte, Belgium/Holland. Population 3,464.

Yesterday I did not decide to take a day trip to Putte, home of the border between Belgium and Holland and a bar called Hollands Hof that serves Lipton tea to beleaguered freezing strangers at 1130 pm.

Yesterday I did decide to join Ben and Tete on a little day trip to Antwerp.

I had never been to Antwerp before, but I’ve wanted to go for just about forever. So when the cutie pod fronds called and explained they had a European ride share and wanted to go on a little shopping road trip? Of course. We all piled into the car and rolled down to Antwerp.

Antwerp! Antwerp. Antwerp!

If you’ve been with me for a minute you know I have a passion for all things Belgium, specifically Belgian fashion. But I’ve only been to Brussels, so I deferred to my queen Leen, the most fashionable person alive, re: our day trip to her home city.

an actual photo of Leen, Kurt and their daughter Polly at home, that I took from this epic article on her. How am I lucky enough to be friends with this person what is life?!

Leen sent me a v authoritative list. We loved every place, but super lucked out at the incomparable Labels, Inc.

dress of the century!? MAYHAPS. I did not go with the hat, however, because I’m not tryna be a full french mime

Dresses were tried on, dresses were purchased. And then we agreed things could get even better, with a decision to end the day at a tea house queen Tete had found, called Salon de Thé Claude.

Well… we tried to, at least.

It looked perfect, it sounded perfect. And as we finished our walk, it seemed it would be perfect: Here is the view we could have had while we sipped Claude’s tea and ate Claude’s pastries.

But we did not do that because the waiter, who was either Claude or not Claude, was not down for us to have this view or any of his tea.

I was legitimately impressed with how rude he was. Claude or not Claude really, really needed me to know he did not like me. Had that European not-aggressive-but-not-passive-aggressive-but-also-pretty-impressively-aggressive vibe down. In true this kind of person fashion he kept reiterating to us, with a harrowingly aggressive joker grin plastered on his face, that we were not welcome at Salon de Thé Claude.

Because it was 5 pm, and Salon de Thé Claude was apparently closed.

(I mean the hours of your establishment are plastered all over Google and your literal website, but go off, Claude or not Claude)

(I also feel like, since it was an hour before closing and we were being really nice to you, you could have been a little nicer to us?)

(But go! off! Claude or not Claude)

We could have thrown up our hands and let ol’ joker-grin ruin a perfectly excellent trip. But I have been fixing every part of the wreckage of my cutie little world falling apart since February of 2020. So am I really going to let him do that?!

Na, my love. Past that I’ve been talking to Dylan about how, even though we’ve been through hell and back, it’s probably time to start dipping my toe back into this world and stuff.

So I looked at Claude or not Claude.
I wished him the best.
And Ben and I started looking for other tea options.

Which is how we found Jeff at Biochi Antwerpen, aka the opposite of Claude-or-not-Claude.

A perfect accidental find that we chanced on while looking for another place.

Now listen I get it, my man Jeff is not big on SEO. Vibey-Claude is all over the internets, but when you Google “tea in Antwerp” (a bish for SURE checked), Jeff and his store do not come up right away.

My Ttalk fam: Many of you happen to live in Antwerp or know people there. Go ahead and pay Jeff a visit, because he is the greatest guy in the history of guys. And, equally importantly, his tea is the greatest tea in the history of teas.

game CHANGER

You. Will. Thank. Me.

Biochi Antwerpen is a magical universe complete with soothing flute soundtrack, fish swimming in a bubbling tank and impeccable decorations.

And some banging fucking tea.

You should not go if you are in a rush.
You should go if you are looking to have an unparalleled and ridiculously delicious experience.

Jeff! For! President!

(Good god, our luck!)

We sat there and we drank our delicious tea. With all my trauma, all of my panic, we finally did it: This was the first indoor hang I’ve had in two years.

I leaned on that triple booster and tried to take deep breaths.
It didn’t feel stressful or pushy or anything.
It just felt … right, finally.

We finished our tea, we thanked Jeff up and down. Tete bought some lapsang souchong (are you aware that most of the lapsang souchong we’ve had is apparently fake?! GO VISIT JEFF TO HAVE THE REAL REAL), and we headed back to the car to return to Hamsterdance at a civilized 715 pm.

(I mean you must know where this is headed.)
(Because you know where this ends.)
(Freezing and out of batteries.)
(At midnight.)
(In Putte!)

You feel me!? It couldn’t just be that we had a great first hang and went home, that’d be too easy. We get to the car. We realize it is an electric car. And that… electric cars have… batteries.

That need to be charged.

(Oh.) (Fuck.)

But my frond I am CAFFEINATED ON JEFF JUICE and have been fixing every part of the wreckage of my cutie little world falling apart since February of 2020. So am I really going to let a ride share battery ruin my day?!

Not on my watch.

I find us a charging station and burgers to eat. While the bobis charge I go and pick the food up. We eat delicious burgers in the parking lot. I even get to see the city center at night!

It’s all going fine. It’s all. Going. Fine?! And then we realize the car is not charging at the charging station.

Still. Life is fine. This is fine?! I download an app. I learn all about electric cars. I find the next closest charging station.

And now, my dearest ones.
You’ve waited.
You’ve waited patiently.

Where do you think the next closest charging station was?

Ding.
Ding.
DING!

We have literally to the kilometer enough battery charge to get us into a freezing pitch dark Putte, population 3,464, at 10 pm.

All of the chargers are just legitimately in people’s driveways. We are cracking up and whispering and trying to not… I don’t know, steal people’s electricity!? But eventually we figure it out, only to realize that it takes … many, many hours to charge an electric car in a residential charging station.

This is the future, I guess. COOL.

What do you do when you’re stuck for a couple of hours in a tiny freezing town on the border of Belgium and Holland and are wearing only the clothing you wore for a quick spring day romp through Antwerp?

You find the nearest open establishment and hope for the best. Along the way there you joke about which side you feel better walking on, Belgium or Holland.

And, perhaps, you see a sign that perfectly encapsulates all of the past two years.

The bartender at Hollands Hof was very confused by four bobis looking for Lipton tea and the ability to use the bathroom, but she kindly obliged. The lights were fluorescent and the Belgian/Dutch people were (understandably) loudly enjoying their Saturday night.

The second indoor hang I’ve had in two years.

I leaned on that triple booster and failed at taking deep breaths.
Ben, Tete, José and I talked about our families.
It felt stressful and necessary and like if there ever were a time I was going to get Omicron, this was it.

And I guess, considering the latest news, I might be alright if that happened?
How do you reconcile the kind of trauma that we’re all holding?
How do you just walk back into the world?

Good lord the system has halted, my love. Call your hardware vendor for su.

For two years I’ve envisioned my return to reality as some glorious joyful respite. Like always, the moments look different as they fall in my lap.

No less special, though. Yesterday was simply all of it at once.

The electric energy of five people indoors, learning from each other, growing.

And the garishly lit sort-of-stress-sort-of-charm of a perfectly fine local bar in a locale so far from anything that feels local to me.

Droplets everywhere, all of us haphazardly putting the pieces of our lives back together the best we can.

All of it.

Eventually we exited Putte. José fell asleep on my shoulder and we ran out of batteries again on Holland’s A41. We pulled into a magical turbo charge place, full of future-robot-chargers called Fastneds.

Fastned!!!

Ned whoever you are, I’m sure it was a good call to put your name on the charger, but boy oh boy was this inordinately hilarious to our delirious brains at 2 am last night. Thank you, my dear ned: As we doubled over in laughter at your namesake our car catapulted to a full charge in a mere 20 minutes.

Honestly, after the day we had it was fucking exhilarating.

I watched that little blue battery move to full and imagined my own self, like a video game, recharging.

Sometimes it’ll be Putte style: Slow, suburban, at its own pace.

And sometimes I’ll be as fast as ol’ ned.

None of it will be in my control. But I have been fixing every part of the wreckage of my cutie little world falling apart since February of 2020. So am I really going to let that mess me up!?

Not today, my love.

More next week.
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