Giving Directions In Amsterdam

So it’s been a few weeks since the last post. As you all know I’m in the Netherlands on a freelance job and it’s turned into more of a time burner than a thought. So the next few installments will be a recap on the last few weeks.

The agency that I’m working at had a bit of everything go wrong at once. Some guys were trying to fix the heating, they drilled into the wall, hit a cable and the internet went down.

We are right in the middle of getting a presentation together that’s due in a few days. So with some quick thinking, the whole of the creative dept is packed up and dispatched to a space that we rented on one of the canals.

It’s magic here. The huge double doors open right up onto the canal. For a break, you just walk outside and watch the passing parade of people, sipping a coffee from the corner.

As I’m doing this one day, I notice a large Arab guy walking towards me with a smaller, older version of him a few steps behind. The Dad, maybe? A mini me experiment gone awry?

Anyway, the guy makes straight for me to ask a question.

Arab Guy: You speak English?
Me: Yes I do.
Arab Guy: My friend (gesturing to mini me) he want to see girl in red window.

It takes me half a second to realize that he means the prostitutes and the red light district. You probably know this already, but Amsterdam is famous for having pretty chilled out prostitution laws. Women have booths right on the street with big red fluros framing them, all looking out at the men beckoning them forth.

Me: Oh sure, um, (pointing south) just down that way.
Arab Guy: That way (pointing south)?
Me: Definitely, that way.

I’m kind of surprised that I know where it is and I bid them good times as the two shuffle off down the road.

I then return inside to tell all the guys what just happened. We all laugh at the kind of blunt randomness of it when Thijs, A Dutch guy working with us, asks which direction I sent them. That way, I say, pointing. Everyone laughs again.

Thijs: You gave wrong directions to lost tourists. That’s actually very Dutch of you. Red light district, (pointing east) is that way. You sent them to the Anne Frank House.

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