Friday, April 17, 2009

The City Of Blinding Lights

The city made for tourism, the city alive for the visitors, the transient town, where every structure was erected for exhibitionist purposes. The history behind every museum was to attract somebody in its general direction. An amusing phenomenon but highly successful.
Amsterdam kicked butt. It was fun, exciting, there was always something going on - street football, live football, cycles and camping at a youth hostel gave me ample opportunity to figure out this seemingly idyllic, radical, freezing, European City.

However, I wonder, what could a city constructed purely for tourism have to offer? It would be foolish to assume that history can be created but shockingly that is exactly what I saw. The Anne Frank House, a reconstruction of the house that Anne Frank, the little Jewish girl who wrote a book that shocked the world, hid from the Nazis in, was a stark and telling tale of the atrocities on humanity. Beyond just the historically informative benefits, some NGO had set up shop within the house and promoted awareness on a plethora of humanitarian topics. It was a pleasant surprise to see another tourist site being converted into a medium for raising awareness. And I think it is this House that is characteristic of the city of Amsterdam. Yes, it is merely a city- museum, built purely for revenue and Heineken, but behind every tourist spot there is a purpose, there is something they are trying to achieve out of it.

Yes, weed is legal, it is ubiquitous, the stench of hash was evident from 100 yards of any of the “coffee shops”, but from a reliable source it was known that the whole process of legal smoking is aboveboard. They ask for IDs, alcohol is banned inside the shops, the officer who is in-charge is a burly threatening-looking guy who seems capable of single-handedly taking down dozen people,and they rehydrate you if you seem off. Maybe somehow this is a better solution than what Bangalore/India has now. Underground Rave parties, weed patches in Law Schools, are that really the way to do this? Granted, more people will be wary of breaking the law and doing drugs but is the cost of those few turnovers worth all the 16- 25 year olds who risk a police record by possessing, dealing and smoking /snorting/ swallowing drugs?

Shady red lights with negligibly clad women displayed on the windows like dresses, people bargain and choose which they like the most. Sources inform me that if a lone man lingers in front of a window long enough, the women start doing things ! Now, this may seem the basest form of perversion, legalized prostitution, but it is safe, the police patrol the streets ON HORSES and intervene in case of some problem.
Anything goes, everything goes in Amsterdam, but somehow with a grace that is lacking in most of the developed world .

1 comment:

Abhishek said...

Nice! I like.

Although wish there was more of you in it.