This September 2018, I spent three of the best days of my life. I happened to witness Amsterdam, one of the beautiful cities the world has.
I was there for a purpose, so I had to stay occupied in daytime. But the evenings and nights, I could explore the city.
This was my first presence in Europe and I was all amped up. Right after the day I reached Amsterdam, I quickly made a few friends. Ah, I didn’t make it (I am a horrible person, not-very-social) but they happened. I must say, these beautiful Europeans with beautiful hearts were there to happen in my life.
When I left for Amsterdam I was fed with so much of expectations and wills to cherish in the city. That had doubled my joys and there was massive eagerness to witness everything.
“Are we going somewhere this eve?”, I threw curiosity to Ben and Sanjay.
“Yep”, they shared mutual response.
We decided to meet after 8 pm. Ben sent me the location where he was. He also WhatsApped me that there were few other colleagues of him along with Sanjay.
As asked, I reached the restaurant we all were supposed to gather. So many first-time instances were waiting for me. I entered the restaurant and the rest of everything was never experienced before.
One table full of beer glasses, eight guys sitting around it. I waved hello to all and we exchanged smiles. Ben and Sanjay were familiar to me, whereas all others were the ones I met for the first time. I sat in front of them and we got started with general talks. For the next one hour, I listened to them, their stories, shared some of mine.
For the moments I was with them on the table, I listened to the real life stories of how European culture is different from the Southern parts of Asia. Social mindset, eating and drinking habits, lifestyle, etc, have a wide range of dissimilarity between Asia and Europe and we were exchanging views about the same.
After the table moment, we decided to walk around Amsterdam’s most talked about place, red light area. Since I had plans to visit Amsterdam, I had been hearing from my team members and near ones not to miss the red light area. I took one of my seniors’ statement seriously that, “it’s not all about fulfilling the craving or looking at all those girls in bikini, it’s about witnessing a different culture, lifestyle, and choices of people” which became the one reason I landed up there.
Red light area aka De Wallen literally opens the eyes of the mindset of conservative society. It makes you realize the fact that diversity in culture, tradition, lifestyle is the real beauty of mankind. It gets you believe that there’s nothing good or bad in this world, it’s all about choices we make for our lives. Prostitution is legal in The Netherlands and this country screams one big message that decriminalizing sex workers is one wise way to respect them as rest of human beings. I got to understand a lot about the place and its uniqueness while passing by sex shops, brothels, museums etc. among hundreds of visitors. It was almost midnight and what was so unique was, I was finding myself in one of the safest cities in the world. More than anything, there were learnings and experiences. Experiences for lifetime.
Those two hours, I cherished each moment and thanked my friends who accompanied me. They were the best people to have at the moment who let me learn so much about the place and the culture.
“De Wallen, I may come again!”, I whispered to myself while bidding goodbye.
(PS: The article was first drafted in September 2018)