Sunday, September 17, 2006

Of admirals and immigrants

Houses in De Baarsjes
Originally uploaded by Planetcam.
My cousin and his girlfriend visited me this spring. My cousin is somewhat a history freak and therefore it was no wonder that he insisted going to the Amsterdam Historisch Museum, i.e. the museum on the history of the city.

To be honest, I was not too eager to join, also as a result of binging on the evening before. But I am willing to admit my ill judgement. Amsterdams Historich Museum is the best museum of Amsterdam. During the tour I got all excited for living on one of the oldest streets of Amsterdam and I actually now understand how Amsterdam grew to be what it is today.

But this is all history - also personally. I have now moved. I live in the up-and-coming De Baarsjes, one of the most multicultural neighbourhoods. 52 % of the population are of foreign descent with Moroccans and Turks as the biggest groups. A very good example of the area was in the news this weekend: the Wester Mosque and the district of De Baarsjes have finally signed a cooperative agreement.

Living on Zeedijk was a wonderful start for my amsterdamisation but in De Baarsjes I feel that I more part of the city, not a particle in a tourist attraction called Amsterdam. The personal development plan for the next months is to get to know my neighbours (families) and get acquainted with the owners of the near-by kiosk and Turkish restaurant.

Interesting remark on the neighbourhood: my neighbourhood is called Admiralenbuurt (Admiral Quarter) and most of the streets are named after Dutch and foreign admirals (we have Marco Polo, Columbus and Admiraal de Ruijter). This reminder of the colonial past is nicely spiced up by the Turkish restaurants, halal butcheries and kiosks run by people with a Moroccan origin.

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