Syedyshev Oleg
Syedyshev Oleg

Humorous Essays Based on students' memories

"All have died
except for those who are alive, and those whom we remember"Confucius

Essay 128. Red Light District

Somebody is in love with Paris, somebody loves Rome, but my family, I am not saying is in love, but we like Amsterdam a lot. Every year, we've already done this four times, we attend Flower Festival at Keukenhof park there.

For the last two years we try to plan our visit so that we can attend a Flower Parade. It is a marvelous event; sponsors interested in advertising finance creation of most various figures made of flowers, and then platforms with the figures travel around Holland and the parade ends in a city of Haarlem.

As a rule it is Sunday, and flower figures are set around the center of Haarlem. There are crowds of tourists, and atmosphere of general joy and delight leaves unforgettable impressions. Well, and all this is without mentioning Keukenhof park itself. And they basically use only three kinds of flowers: tulips, narcissi and hyacinths. Imagination and talent of landscape designers do wonders. We can already say that we are regular visitors of the exhibition, and we have not seen anything which was repeated even once.

It's delight!!! This is how our feelings can be described. We are delighted in spite of being tired and that by the end of the day our feet fail to walk. This year just because of curiosity I brought a passometer with me to Amsterdam. So around the city we on the average walked eight kilometers, and in Keukenhof park the registration was of fifteen kilometers. Though, I am talking not about the tulips park or a flower figures parade now.

Now I am talking about another not less interesting place of interest. In this case you decided that I was talking about Vincent van Gogh and his Sunflowers?

You missed again. Don't be in a hurry; you will understand what it is about soon. As I am a man loving only one woman all his life, when in Amsterdam we use one and the same hotel of "Krasnopolsky". The hotel has a great location at the Dam Square in front of the royal palace, and there is a five minute walk from it to the central train station. And on a bank of one of canals next to the train station there is a Chinese restaurant called "Sea Palace".

The restaurant is an exact replica of the one in Hong Kong, where Natasha and I like to go out during our visits to Hong Kong. I like Chinese cuisine very much, and there they serve shark fins soup, crabs and a chick as well as chicken feet. No, not legs, but feet, though without claws, they are cut off. I always ordered "white" feet. They are served in vinegar.

When four year ago I ordered them for the first time in Amsterdam, almost everybody of the staff of the restaurant passed by our table, and everybody was staring at me like at a weirdo. And only one elderly waiter told us that the Europeans did not order that dish and suggested ordering brown feet as well. That time he brought me a plate of "brown chicken feet" as a present "from the house". When he was serving it he made such a mischievous face and said: "Deliiicious!!!"; you can imagine what it looked like.

He came up to me several times after that to check whether I liked it. He was sincerely happy to see that I was tucking the feet away with good appetite, and how fast a heap of picked by me to shine bones was growing.
This year after visiting the cheese auction and having a wonderful dinner at the "Sea Palace" restaurant, Natalek, I and Cathy were trying to decide, whether to call a pedicab or walk to the hotel. The first idea was of my two beauties, and the second proposal was mine. As an argument I offered a new rout, which we had not walked along before. I was insisting that it was short, and we might see many interesting things. I persuaded everybody, and we went on foot. Yes, sure enough, the rout was interesting.

We came to a district with very narrow and twisting streets, and on the sides there were big windows as wide as a wall and doors next to them. The windows and doors were curtained off, and we did not understand what was behind them. We were talking between ourselves making guesses; they did not look like stores, and the streets were not passable for cars.

What was it? In about fifty meters a surprise was waiting for us. The windows were not curtained off there, and in the windows there were girls sitting, standing or lying in frivolous postures. Like a bolt from the blue a thought flashed that that was the "Red Light District"!!!

Generally speaking we were actively turning our heads for the rest of the walk. I cannot say that it was really very interesting, though it was unusual and strange to see that kind of pictures for sure. Everything was spoiled at the exit of the "Minotaur's Labyrinth". That was quite a not esthetic sight. Let's say to be politically correct an afronetherlander of not less than two hundred kilos of weight fell flat on the window, and in addition was winking at everybody passing by.
"Well, we visited the street with lots of small cafes with hallucinogenic mushrooms and the one, where they openly smoked pot, and today we, even though unplanned visited the famous "Red Light District", so we saw practically all attractions of Amsterdam. We can leave".

I told all that to Natalek and Cathy. However, just imagine that, they doubted that everything had not been preplanned. They still had doubts, whether the accidental tour had been well planned. I was firmly insisting that it happened by accident, and that was it. Much later I was told that there were two versions of the origin of the district's name. Here is the first one: in the old days there was a train station not far away from it, so trackmen when they had a moment used to visit the district, and in order not to be looked for, they used to hang their trackmen's lights, which were of red color on doors.

The second version is less appealing to me. In the girls' rooms there is always red light, because characteristic syphilitic rash girls and their clients have is not visible in red light.

9 July, 2012

© Copyright: Oleg Syedyshev, 2012
Publishing licence #213112901060

Translated by Viktoria Potykinato content