On Nov. 23, 2005 I moved to The Hague from Washington, DC. This is my new Dutch life.


Making the Best of a Tight Situation

This one is for PK. I know I'm still on and off the wagon with posting, but I swear I have good excuses. Being out of town, busy and sick are all good reasons to lay low. But PK's right.

The Netherlands' 16 million or so residents live in an area the size of two New Jerseys or Connecticut and Massachusetts combined. That's not really a lot of people, but it's not a lot of size either. Most of us, as in almost half, are crammed into a corridor of cities known as the Randstad, or edge city, because they generally skirt the coast. The Randstad encompasses Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Utrecht (and everything in between) and it takes not much more than an hour by train to get end-to-end.

In a word, it's tight. You can never really get away from people in the Randstad, and the size and price of housing is reflected in an area that's short on space and long (and tall) on people. It's also reflected in a grumpier, fussier attitude as people constantly angle for a swatch of personal space.

We live in a reasonably large studio apartment on the first floor (it'd be the second floor in the U.S.) of a row house. The top three floors were probably one nice, big house at one point. Today, there are five apartments in my building and we are in the largest one. The stairs and corridors are narrow and steep, allowing for quick height gain (the ceilings are all nice and tall) but making any normal journey up and down the stairs a bit perilous. Never mind moving furniture in and out.

Our furniture and boxes were brought up through the balcony via this ladder/elevator thingy (below). In the absence of a balcony, they'd have moved everything in through one of the big pictures windows.

A couple of weeks ago, I watched our neighbors across the street move a grand piano into their apartment. Naturally I snapped some shots. I suppose you might see this kind of thing in some of America's older cities, but this was a first for me.

Notice that someone in the second photo is running around in a robe with a towel on her head. You'd think you'd be a bit more prepared for a piano delivery. Actually I'm not that surprised. I once saw my neighbor bring out the garbage in his tighty whities.



Blogger Reid said...

Apparently, the woman who used to live in that third floor apartment in the building I live in had a grand piano hoisted up to her apartment. I can't imagine that state that put Q Street into.

Man...you'd have to REALLY love your piano.

4:23 PM GMT+1

Blogger PeeKay said...

can you imagine being the person living below the piano playing robed one? watching that piano hoist in the air and the extreme pissedoffness as you realize you now have to listen to this ivory tickler! ugh!

8:19 PM GMT+1

Blogger akaijen said...

I think that person lives in the whole building, lucky them. So, bugging upstairs or downstairs neighbors is less a problem. And anyway, the govt. has floor insulation laws or something to muffle noise.

One of my neighbors has a piano, and it's far less annoying than the one that practices opera-style singing.

8:50 PM GMT+1

Anonymous redsnapper said...

thank you for putting up pics of the piano delivery, and NOT the tighty whities.

9:44 PM GMT+1


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