Saturday, September 03, 2005

Netherlands - Part 1

Had a bit of slogging to do at office. Hence couldn’t put this post earlier. Even now, just managed to squeeze some time for this, to have it in the web before the American long weekend stories hit the stands. ;)

I never thought that a holiday visit with a gang of 12 desi friends would stir so much of thoughts within.

Netherlands, I know is a unique country with
1. Prostitution legally allowed
2. Brown café selling weeds legally
3. A flat Pan Cake country [lowest is -7m below mean sea level, highest is 380m above mean sea level].
4. 42% of the country is below sea level and is protected by dykes and dams build across the sea.
5. 20% of the total land area is reclaimed from sea.

Little did I know that, I will end up travelling through the country side visiting 4 cities in 3 days, getting enough time in between to think on what I had seen.

Since this was an off the fly trip, flights were either fully booked or very costly. The choice was either to cross the North Sea or the English Channel. While we were deciding, the North Sea route also got fully booked. The only option was to take the Coach-Ferry-Coach through France and Belgium into Netherlands.

On reaching there, and after checking in and refreshing, I had been to the tourist info centre to look out for and book for package deals. There was a queue and it took me abt 30 mins. As I came out, my pals had already started their Amsterdam tour. Yes, some of them went to the café and initiated themselves into the grass root level. [and later some of them got sick, felt blown out and headed for the hostel in the afternoon. that is a different story in itself. ]

After some roaming around in the central parts of the city, it was time for lunch.
There are a lot of Indonesian cuisines, as a mark of the Dutch East India company’s exploits. As it happens always with a large group, we had to split into smaller sub groups based on preferences. I belonged to the one which just had Margaritta pizza.

The plan for the afternoon was just to roam around the city following the various Amsterdam Walks and to visit the Heineken brewery. Got to know the ins and outs of the Brewing process, and was offered a complimentary coupon for 3 pints, which I exchanged for cola, and a souvenir beer glass.

Next stop was the hyped Sex Museum. This did not turn out to be interesting for me. Just ran through it fast and came out asap.

While waiting on the streets I found the lamp posts modeled to show ‘XXX’. Fyi, the flag of Amsterdam has them.

This foto has the following identities of Amsterdam
1. The XXX lamp post
2. Distinct bicycle lane
3. The tram line
4. The indonesian connection. [The man in the bicycle]
5. The teasers bar, famous for it body shot.

It was time for the sunset and the default pilgrimage to the world famous Red Light district began. Though I had read about this place earlier, it was a huge shock for me initially, with all the scantily clad women peeping out of the red lighted door sized glass windows lining the streets. I was initially very uncomfortable and developed a pitiable reaction to them. But in sometime, I happened to understand the professionalism there.

I could see tourists, families, with children, even desi families with children strolling in the core of the district!. As I read somewhere, the two questions raised by somebody before visiting the place is, 'Is it Safe? Will it be a shock?' and the answer for both are a 'Yes'.

It was just business, as much as an accountants office. I happened to come across this article which has approached the business academically. The following lines from that seemed to be very true.

In Amsterdam, the commodification of bodies has been perfected
to the level of an art form. The red-light district resembles the
modern open-air shopping mall in the United States. Relatively
clean streets, little crime, a neon atmosphere, and windows and
windows of women to choose from--every size, shape, and color
(though not in equal amounts).

As one half of the gang decided to watch a live show, the other half of us found our way to a Thai restaurant and then to the hostel to retire after the long day.

To be Contd...


At Sun Sep 04, 06:03:00 AM CDT, Blogger Random Access said...

Interesting facts. Reading thru itself gives me a sense of awe n shock ;)

Random Access
The search has just begun !!!

At Sun Sep 04, 11:58:00 AM CDT, Blogger Ramana Siddharth said...

i remember reading a story called hans of holand abt a boy who was willing 2 risk his life 2 prevent d dykes from breaking.

ur observations on the red light area are very 2days consumeristic world literally everything seems 2 b4 sale.

At Sun Sep 04, 12:19:00 PM CDT, Blogger TJ said...

Indeed RA, it was a shock for me as well.

My mom also recalled the same story, when i said i was going to holland.

At Sun Sep 04, 03:50:00 PM CDT, Blogger Adaengappa !! said...

Wow..Interesting !! Sure thats a great place !!

Sex Museum :Thats a museum of a different kind..Different than the one i visited here

At Sun Sep 04, 05:31:00 PM CDT, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

ho man - I guess I shuld go to Amsterdam - its definitely the place for me ;)

At Sun Sep 04, 05:35:00 PM CDT, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Btw, when I was in Singapore last year..I went to Orchard St..and u have these type of things there too..these girls are the bar, they start their day by praying (the buddhist way) lighting camphor..then they start their job..I was stunned by their devotion to their jobs..and I really appreciate them!

At Sun Sep 04, 09:12:00 PM CDT, Blogger Ram.C said...

your analysis of the photo is very nice... I believe, sex is not an offensive word in western countries.. no wonder, these things are recognised officiially

At Sun Sep 04, 11:24:00 PM CDT, Anonymous Sundaresan said...


At Mon Sep 05, 12:04:00 AM CDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear TJ,

I congratulate you on the honesty with which you have brought out these experiences in Amsterdam. I am also glad that you were not impressed by the things you found there. you are strong and of a good character. kudos friend.


At Mon Sep 05, 02:49:00 AM CDT, Blogger Chakra Sampath said...

> to have it in the web before the American long weekend stories hit the stands.

- Strategies in i like this.

Have heard abt the famous RL districts of Amsterdam... but you have given a neat account of that.

At Mon Sep 05, 04:56:00 AM CDT, Blogger WA said...

Nice Account TJ

At Mon Sep 05, 06:31:00 AM CDT, Blogger Paavai said...

Nice post TJ. Legalizing drugs and prostitution is a hotly debated topic world over.

At Mon Sep 05, 10:36:00 AM CDT, Anonymous rajesh said...

Good post.

Did you go to tulip gardens (may be in part 2) ?

At Mon Sep 05, 11:49:00 AM CDT, Blogger ada-paavi!!!! said...

if prostitution is legal here in india (it was earlier, arthasashtra has references to it)many problems wud be solved.

waiting for part two

TJ, ive tagged u, visitmy blog for details

At Mon Sep 05, 11:09:00 PM CDT, Blogger Kasthuri Srinivasan said...

One thing I liked about Amsterdam is their airport. They have a meditation center that I haven't found in any other airport. It is really a peaceful place.

At Tue Sep 06, 10:28:00 AM CDT, Blogger Dubukku said...

wow nice account.
romba nalla pullaiya nadikara maadhiri irukku...veetula ponnu parkaranagla? :P

At Tue Sep 06, 11:39:00 AM CDT, Blogger TJ said...

Though it seems different, i am sure the contents must be just as same!

Definitely, if u have the will to enjoy, thats the place to be. And Seyyum thozhile deivam stuff in singapore?!

Yes, Sex is just any other word here. The flop side is that, unlike our society where Sex itself is enough thrill, folks tend to stray into different orientation or more perverted ideas to get the trill.

Thanks Sundaresan.!

At Tue Sep 06, 11:41:00 AM CDT, Blogger TJ said...

Thanks, Amsterdam is indeed a test of resolve :)

The other side of the strategy is that, once American stories are out, i would rather keep reading the travelogues, which i love to do, and not post mine ;)


At Tue Sep 06, 11:44:00 AM CDT, Blogger TJ said...

Yes, legalizing drugs and prostitution has enuf pros and cons, which drastically differ across societies. Difficult subject indeed!

No, the Tulip season was over by june. Could drop in there. :(

As u said, i too have heard of arthashastra talking abt legal prostitution. Legalizing means more control, hence proper channelization.
And abt the Tag, seems would make me think a lot ..phew.. will do it.

At Tue Sep 06, 11:47:00 AM CDT, Blogger TJ said...

Yes Kasturi,
I too have heard Amsterdam Schipol airport is a very good one. I havent been there but. I remember it to be a hub between East and US in the days before AirFrance took over KLM.

Nandri, Veetla irukkaravangalukku paavam andha maadhri sramam kodukara udhesam illai ;)

At Tue Sep 06, 12:09:00 PM CDT, Blogger Ganesh said...

thanks for the writeup
nice one.

At Tue Sep 06, 01:14:00 PM CDT, Blogger TJ said...

Thanks and Welcome!


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