Friday, August 6, 2010

Amsterdam: Or the story of a dominatrix, bakery and a dress shop

Red, red, red in Amsterdam
Sid & I are off to Amsterdam for the weekend.

Amsterdam, oh Amsterdam! I lived there for six months, and I know that I will never live in a city more full of quirks than it. What with its canals, bicycles, tilting houses, motor boat travels, coffeeshops, weed smell everywhere, and a university and red light district standing side-by-side in perfect harmony.

Last year, I had written a blog on an artwork on the red-light district in Amsterdam. Now I am tempted to quote out of it - to explain why to live in Amsterdam means rewiring your brain to a new way of life.

"All tourists to Amsterdam religiously take a tour of its notorious red light district. And are dutifully awed by it. No matter how much you have read about it, how world weary you are, how primed you are for the experience: the reality of Amsterdam's canal-lined sex lanes will leave you overwhelmed. It is the shopping arcade of prostitution. Women of all ages, colours, sizes and catering to all kinds of festishes are casually displayed in windows like candies for your pick. Nothing is left to the imagination including the price of the experience: 50 euros for a mere hump, another 5 for moaning, another 10 for a caress, another 15 for her to kiss back, more for some oral... you get the picture. It is in-your-face, unashamed, unsentimental and utterly commercial. And it will leave you awed.

I was awed.

But what is more amazing - and something you learn only if you live in Amsterdam - is how quickly, how unbelievably fast, you stop noticing the sex romp around you. It hit me two months into the city, as I was pedaling my way to the university early one morning. As I glanced around, I noticed a bored sex worker in dominatrix attire sitting in front of her window, perhaps waiting for a customer to walk in for a early morning quickie. Her window was in the basement of what looked like a respectable residential block, and was sandwiched between a bakery and a dress shop. The bakery had just opened and the smell of warm freshly baked bread was in the air. The dress shop had an hour to go before it opened. There was little excitement or sense of the forbidden anywhere - it was just another banal morning in Amsterdam with a sex worker, a baker and a university student (me) going about their lives in an everyday city street. And to me, it was priceless."

You can read the whole blog here.

1 comment:

Jonathan Mack said...

Red Light District is a lifetime experience!
But, to be sure to have a unforgettable time, you should check out this The Amsterdam Red Light Guide