Sep 8, 2014

Museum of Prostitution in Amsterdam

The latest museum to opening in Amsterdam is the museum of Prostitution. Well for a city that draws millions of tourists every year with drugs and Prostitution topping the list of tourist attractions,  Amsterdam has done and fine job of creating this museum right in the middle of the red light district. Also called "the walls" and gaining fame for servicing the sailors centuries ago, Amsterdam' s red light district has thousands of licensed prostitutes standing in red lit booths along the canals and luring prospective customers. 

This museum has different sections. Starting with the stools facing the road, it allows you to take the position of the ladies you have been gawking at and look at the world through their red lens.

Then there is the service room loaded with daily utilities like the narrow single bed and a stand with lotions, cosmetics and mobile phone with charger ofcourse. 
Next section is the luxury room with a circular bed and bath tub. It looked super cheesy and had a medieval feel. Even the dim pastel light couldn't create a sense of luxury for me.

And then there is the torture section or the SM sections.  This is what the prostitutes take to when they get older.

A section of the gory murders of prostitutes in the last centuries towards the end only went to prove that despite legalizing the world's oldest trade there is no security to the sex workers even in a developed country like the Netherlands.

The last sections are a funny wall with "what people leave behind" ; denture and Id cards included. A funny sign that asks you to claim it if any of those belonged to you, a Confession wall and finally a quiz.

What a show!

Aug 18, 2014

Bridal Veil Falls

Blast from the Past!
Reminding me of a time we spent in the wilderness, of the days when we lived across the Atlantic, the months we whiled away being carefree... 
It is a lovely feeling to go back in memory and sniff the nostalgia and bask in its sweetness. But when I have a choice, I would still make the mistakes I did and live the life I am living without a regret. Whether it is a guided tour or hiking an off-beat trail, travel has its way of mesmerising me and capturing every inch of my soul to give me a freedom inside.

Aug 3, 2014

Gay Parade in Amsterdam

The Gay Pride festival in Amsterdam on 2 August happens to be the annual parade for gay, lesbian,  transsexuals and transvestites. And pretty much everyone who wants to celebrate the cause with a spirit.
Despite crazy thunderstorms and rainy afternoon, the parade and party went on in full enthusiasm.  People used umbrellas and ponchos and kept the party going. No rain could wash down anybody's spirits.
A floating car!

Jul 21, 2014

London Thumakda

So last month I went to London. My second time there. And it was fun.
The purpose of my trip was training and yet I flew in a day earlier with the sole purpose of eating at Saravana Bhavan. I ate idli, poori, masala dosa and filter coffee.
In east london, there is the cable car operated by emirates. This is great fun. It is not crazy touristy like the London Eye but rather lower priced, smaller queue and gives a nice view of East London. It's in the O2 Arena and so easily accessible by the tube.
More fun is when you come back from a round trip, you can take the ferry in Thames till the down town.

Emirates did a wonderful job of installing these cable cars in East London. They are awesome, worth and totally fun to see the life and vibe of London.
 Ferrying along Thames to get off at the station of your choice. Now go, get spoilt! And feel terrific and off-beat in London

Jun 18, 2014

Hidden Stories of Amsterdam

Pssst…you looking for women? Single ladies? I know, I know… in Amsterdam that might seem like an effortless exercise, but I’m talking about a host of classy lasses that aren’t bathing in red light, don’t get paid for sex and live in the kind of primo real-estate that would make even turtles a little jealous. You’re welcome to test your luck with any one of the 105 misses; just don’t be surprised if the Begijntjes don’t ask you to stay over.

Behind Spui Plein is a ‘secret’ door that, even for people who know where to look, is easy to miss. The door opens into a short, sloping tunnel down into one of Amsterdam’s oldest and only medieval inner courts. At a stone’s throw from Amsterdam’s busiest street, the Kalverstraat, the Begijnhof is surprisingly quiet and unexpectedly tranquil.

The 14th century beguinage was built as a collection of buildings that house religious women seeking to serve god without taking monastic vows. These pre-feminists of sorts would abstain while living in the Begijnhof, but they could depart for marriage at any time.

The courtyard, sunk a metre below the rest of the city at medieval street level, is immaculately kept, as are the doormat-sized gardens in front of the 47 houses. Aside from the beautiful Amsterdam facades and relative seclusion that give the courtyard a luxurious feel, the sanctuary also contains a church, a hidden church and one of Amsterdam’s oldest (1528) and only remaining wooden domiciles.

After the Alteration the Begijntjes were forced to give up their Catholic chapel to the Presbyterians, who renamed it the English Church. Two houses across from the main church were secretly converted into a ‘clandestine chapel’ in 1671. The meticulously preserved ‘Houten Huys’ (wooden house) at no. 34 is one of only two remaining houses in Amsterdam with a wooden fa├žade (the other is at Zeedijk 1). 

Nowadays the Begijnhof is full of professional single ladies. And even though the last real Beguines died in the 1970s, the tradition of abstinence lives on – sort of. The secular residents are completely free, but men and children are prohibited – which is not to say there isn’t the occasional man sneaking off at six in the morning. The peaceful oasis is now a piece of prime real estate that has a waiting list of seven to eight years.

Gutter Ghost

Cornelia Arens was a devout inhabitant of the Begijnhof. After her parents converted to Protestantism she felt she had to make up for their sins. Upon her death she asked to be buried in the gutter of the courtyard, a request that was denied after they laid the woman to rest in the church. Legend holds that her coffin was found lying in the ditch the next morning. After this mysterious incident repeated itself another three nights they decided to honour Cornelia’s wishes and bury her in the ditch. A commemorative stone can be found in the street next to the English Church on the site of her grave. 

Guest Post by Tim Hilhorst