When, at the first Amsterdive meet-up, I got prompted to write about the downsides of living in Amsterdam, I thought it was an unusual request. My readers know all too well that this platform centres on the positive, on what’s to celebrate about the city. I’m the type who loves a good creative challenge so I did promise them that I would write my take on the pitfalls of living here. I have written about it once before. Twice, actually. The prompt made me realise that the regulars at this site want to see the entirety of the picture, not a sum of parts. I think that some aspects I’ve parodied will be very recognisable to most people, others not at all. Here is my perspective (subjective, personal and all that) on the city of muddy canals and mad bikers after having lived here for seven years. Here we go.
It was quite a while since I’d gone to a theatre show. Receiving an invitation from the Amsterdam Culture Club to join one of their gatherings felt like getting a message from a bigger force – introduce cavernous voice here – Wake up Anaaaa. Make your way back to the theatreeee. I obeyed. Spent my uni time studying theatre, after all. Can’t be this long away from it.
Yesterday I was thinking of the downs of living “abroad”. I must say I very rarely put myself this question, but I know that this is a very relatable topic to most expats. If you are one, you might immediately have a whole spectrum of ideas on it. Things like the absence of friends and family might automatically pop into your mind, or the missing of certain foods, your hometown, the weather, or a type of human warmth very specific to where you come from. Personally, the following sentence immediately banged in my head:
When I arrived in Amsterdam, I went to live in the Indische Buurt. Molukkenstraat, to be more precise. First day upon my arrival I found it an ugly street. There were no hipster cafes at the Molukkenstraat at the time, just very shady coffee shops, equally shady dry-cleaning businesses, and Turkish man-only hairdressers. There was also the occasional male who would harass you on the street, which was something quite peculiar having into account that that phenomenon simply DOESN’T happen in Amsterdam. But it did at the Molukkenstraat.