Thursday, June 25, 2009
The far East
For the past year, I've lived in Amsterdam Oost, the eastern part of the city. Before moving there I had the impression that it was a somewhat unsafe neighborhood with ugly houses. Now, after having lived in four apartments (three of them with Indonesian street names), I must rectify. The far East is fantastic!
It is a lively, multicultural neigborhood, especially the part called the Indische buurt. As said, street names refer to Indonesian cities or Islands - in colonial Dutch spelling I must add. The Javastraat is the centerpoint; there you can find all sorts of shops; Turkish bakeries, Surinamese foodshops, Dutch cheeseshops, cellphone and long-distance phonecards suppliers and of course the laundry shop with the Indonesian owner.
The owner of the barbershop is a Singaporese man, who's lived in the Netherlands for years. He works with Sonja, a Moluccan lady, who immediately recognized my Indonesian features (to my great pleasure). The shop is visited by a caucasian dad with his three small children, a Chinese student, a Surinamese Indian man in his fifties, an Indisch lady who speaks Dutch mixed with Indonesian words.
In Oosterpark people do Tai Chi on a Friday afternoon. The Surinamese teacher instructs a group of 30 some people of all different types and skintones on the movements.