your run of the mill friday night

March 11th, 2006

So I was walking the streets again today, was getting dark when I got home. Starting to know Utrecht better and better now, it's fun to walk some place I haven't seen 403 times already. The housing here is pretty unique, very condensed. In Norway, every house will have a flight of stairs leading up to the entrance, so in effect the ground floor is a meter above the sidewalk. That means you can't look into people's windows, unless you make a special effort to do so. But here there's no room for stairs, so the entrance to a house on the street will be right on the sidewalk, you take one step inside, you're already in the house. And so the ground floor is at the level of the sidewalk, you can look right into people's homes. It's a bit rude, but I'm a curious person, so I look in. I don't stop and stare, but I do look as I walk by. Most people don't want you to look, so they put up curtains and blinds, a lot of windows at street level have matte glass.

When I do look in and I see people in there, most of the time they're watching tv. It's usually their living room facing the street, so they're on the couch, remote in hand and tv set illuminating the room. For some reason, I feel sorry for people when I see them watch tv. I kinda think to myself "that's a shame". I guess that's because most of the time I'm watching tv, I wish I was doing something else. Sometimes I see them at the computer and that I like better. "Maybe he's learning something, maybe he's getting enlightened." Or maybe he's just gaming, but even that is much less passive than watching tv.

One thing that strikes me about these houses is that none of them have mailboxes. They all just have this slot for the mail in the front door. It seems so backward and 1st millennium, doesn't it? It's like in 976, before there was print, you would get messages on stone tablets, the mailman would deliver them through that slot (which seems to be dimensioned exactly for that purpose). Invariably, those mail slots have these special stickers on them. My Dutch is still crap, so I can't read the text, but I assume it's something along the lines of "No advertising without a recipient to this address".

Just as I was getting back, I was walking in the center and I see these three funny looking guys turn into my street and so I ended up walking 30m behind them for a couple of blocks. It was a curious sight cause in Utrecht you don't see a lot of skater/hip-hoper/gang-banger types, and so as a curious person I was watching them. Skater clothes, baseball caps, sagging pants (that's a given), very funny walk. It wasn't until a while later that I realized they were talking Polish to each other, one was saying something about how the other owed him five grand. As we pass this coffeeshop (ie. weed joint), the tall one gestures to some people inside, giving the impression that the proprietor is a buddy. Interestingly, there was a long line inside the coffeeshop a Friday night at 6.30pm. Just as I pass the coffeeshop, I see this girl standing outside the entrance, looking incredibly bored, then her wacky looking male companion steps out of the shop with a little bag and a goofy smile on his face and they walk off.

:: random entries in this category ::

3 Responses to "your run of the mill friday night"

  1. erik says:

    You're creepy :D

  2. ash says:

    Yep, agreeing with Erik here :P
    Is the mail 'slot' really so backward? We don't have mailboxes at all in England, the letterbox (that slot thingy) is the normal thing to have.

  3. [...] lands on the kitchen table, it takes a human to bring it up the stairs. It arrives everyday through the medieval crack, of [...]