“Mach Dich Hübsch!” (Make Yourself Pretty)

Like most people, I have a travel list which basically includes anywhere and everywhere. One of the things I was excited about when I moved to Hamburg was the prospect of travelling all over the European Union and the rest of Europe. I got that chance when we decided to go to Amsterdam.  Although it was travel for a specific reason, we managed some tourist-y things.

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We spent the last days of 2015 and welcoming this wonderful (so far) year in a beautiful, cold city listening to a little bit of French, Italian, lots of Dutch and English, and other languages that I couldn’t quite point out from the hundreds of tourists and locals that surrounded us. We spent an afternoon at an art museum with displays of not just paintings on canvasses, but photographs, graffiti, painted jackets, airplane windows, different mirrors put together in a frame, a walk-in bar that was remade from the 70s where people stood and sat with clocks for heads. For someone who has seen some art from India, this was eye opening for me- to truly witness different kinds of perspectives of what people considered art- some fantastic, some mediocre, some unique, confusing, some I-just-don’t-get-it.

After a debate on renting peddling boats or bicycles, we decided on bicycles. This is not your normal I’m-going-to-take-a-joy-ride kind of cycling- it’s serious. Bicycles are one of the main modes of transportation in this city and while there’s no need for a license, it is daunting (especially for someone used to driving on the left side). After an initial apprehension and mostly staying out of other pro cyclists’ ways, I got a grip and figured it out. It feels wonderfully liberating to be able to explore the city (including the Red Light District) with the cold wind in your face. It felt worry-free. I like walking, but I always feel like even a 20 minute walk one way is going to end badly, because you have to walk back and that always feels more like dragging, less walking. Cycling relieved me of this unnecessary stress.

Amsterdam was (for me) not about legal Marijuana and the Red Light District. It was what I’ve seen on TV shows and in movies (including that fantastic Hindi movie Queen) about big cities- big buildings, small square apartments with lots of stuff,  long, rectangular windows that let you see what your neighbour is doing. It reminded me of the Friends episode where Joey wakes up to his neighbour singing a cheerful morning song. This was a little different of course, what with an amusing language spoken with so much epiglottis.  It was made all the more aesthetic because of those picturesque canals that Amsterdam is so famous for. We’re looking forward to going back- to go see the things we didn’t see this time.

At the end of every year, I always feel like it was a bit like a roller coaster. Thankfully, 2015 didn’t make that ride. Last year was so full of love and celebration. Yes, there were times when it was terrible, but looking back, the things that stand out are those that made me happier than I ever thought I would be. I discovered a love for my parents and my family like never before. I discovered the strongest pillars of my friendships. I learnt to surround myself with positivity and things that give me a push upwards, not down. Needless to say, the most significant part of that was marrying my soul mate!

I feel very grateful that we said goodbye to that most significant year (yet) and welcomed the new one this way- with three amazing friends, some champagne, and a whole lot of fireworks over our head.

I’ll leave you with a video of this stunning Scottish man playing Auld Lang Syne  on a street corner. It really is a good start to the year! May it bring love, happiness and peace in all our lives. Happy 2016, everyone!

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