Wel­come To Am­s­ter­dam: Ev­ery­thing’s Here!

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch - - TRAVEL - Tex t and images by Saub­hadra Chat­terji

IT IS meant to be a kind of im­pro­vised Dutch mu­sic and dance. As it is, I have a lim­ited un­der­stand­ing of in­ter­na­tional mu­sic. On top of it, half an hour be­fore the show, there are just nine peo­ple at Bimhuis, the river­front con­cert hall.

It looks like my first evening in Am­s­ter­dam may be a flop. I head to the bar for a beer. By the time I fin­ish the sec­ond pint, a size­able crowd has gath­ered. I grab an­other pint of Grolsch blond and sit.

The back­drop is a glass wall, through which the Eastern Dock­land lights pour in, cre­at­ing a mag­i­cal ef­fect. Two women take the stage. No mi­cro­phone, no ac­com­pa­ny­ing mu­sic. Monica Ak­i­hary starts play­ing with her voice and a young woman breaks into a slow dance. Then, two new artists emerge for a dance on drum beats.

Fif­teen min­utes into the show, I find I have for­got­ten to take a sip.

Two lessons learnt: never un­der­es­ti­mate the power of mu­sic, and that of a Dutch beer!


Am­s­ter­dam of­fe­fers a lot of choices – ex­cept shop­pi­ing – to its guests in the evening. In one of the most densely pop­u­lat­ted cities of Europe, al­most all shops pull down their shut­ters by sunnset.

But the cityy doesn’t sleep early. At 9 pm, with teem­per­a­tures fall­ing rapidly, I en­ter Ri­jsel: a FrenchFlem­ish restau­rant in a quiet neigh­bour­hood by the Am­s­tel river.

The place is as lively as a good Ro­man Trat­to­ria. All cus­tomers, ex­cept the two of us, are lo­cals. They mix food and drinks with end­less, loud chat­ter. It’s a packed house on just an­other W ed­nes­day evening.

W e or­der mus­sels, Flem­ish chicken roast with veg­eta­bles, and a fish soup. The server asks for my choice of poi­son. “Dark beer,” I re­ply. Five min­utes later, she puts a bot­tle la­belled ‘W ild Jo’ on the ta­ble. I am wor­ried when the food ar­rives. How can two of us eat so much? The por­tions are twice of what you get in a Delhi restau­rant.

Ruchira, my wife, sug­gests that we or­der less next time. I pro­pose to in­crease my beer in­take to help digest the food. As usual, she has the fi­nal say: “W e have to walk more.”

From its art to its sleaze to its heart of dark­ness, you’ll never have enough time to ex plore this city


Am­s­ter­dam has an ex­cel­lent tram net­work, plus metro-rail and buses. But thee best way to see the heart of Hol­land is to walk.

Ar­mmed with a Rick Steves’ au­dio gguide, I turn left from Dam­raak to W ar­moesstraat for an Am­ster­rdam land­mark: the red-light dis­trictt.

Eveery city has its ver­sion of a sex tr­rade hub, but Am­s­ter­dam takes itt to a dif­fer­ent level. On the

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