One of the most striking differences for me between my home in South Africa and Amsterdam is something I find hard to describe. It has something to do with sound or at least an impression of sound. It feels to me that Amsterdam is (almost) always silent. But this silence seems to not only be in the sounds of the city – even when I am next to a road and I hear the cars drive by, still it feels quiet. In the Centrum, in the midst of the bustle of tourists, it is not quiet, but mostly everywhere else, this quiet is like a thick fog, dulling all the other sounds.
Perhaps there are sounds from home that I am used that are just not present here – I lived near a dam with geese and ducks, so perhaps an absence of bird sounds. Somehow it strikes me as something deeper though – something in the nature of this city, the nature of Dutchness, that is more aloof and, yes, even more cold (and I’m not referring to temperature) than home. But also peaceful and calm, despite of cars and traffic and people.
I think there are few cities as quiet as Amsterdam. And Amsterdam on a Sunday morning (when almost no one is awake or about), when I bike to church, is as quiet as an undisturbed meadow or a forest. The sounds of people seem more like the sounds of birds and deer or other wildlife.
Not long after arriving in Amsterdam, I remember thinking about this quiet, trying to draw inspiration from it and I could only find the following lines:
In this quiet city music lights the darkness and i feel a little less lonely
If you want to read about my other impressions of Amsterdam, see the posts The church in the redlight district and Being a mathematician in Amsterdam. My thanks to all those who have liked, reblogged or commented on previous posts. As always, any comments on this post are welcome.