Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm IN!

I've moved! I've unpacked!! ...But the house is a MESS and I'm still organizing. No internet connection there yet (it takes FOUR WEEKS for internet installation?!?) So... the pictures will come later.

BUT... I have SATELLITE TV!! Apparently the previous tenant installed a satellite. Unfortunately, it's only beaming programs from Italy and the Middle East (and the occasional CCTV Chinese program and Arirang Korean program). W.E.I.R.D.

The new place is 3 streets away from Beige Heaven, so it was one of those easy-but-difficult moves... Y'know, no point getting a mover or getting help coz you can just traipse up and down the street with your stuff. I spent Friday doing just that, with my ear glued to the phone, diffusing crisis bombs that were going off at work.

To add to the drama, it started raining too.

And on top of this, one of my cousins whom I haven't seen in YEARS stopped by Amsterdam on her way to the airport from Utrecht and was only here for a few hours... so I spent part of the afternoon catching up with her as well.

How about that - producing a commercial while moving house while entertaining. BAM!

I dunno why I do this to myself sometimes... Suffice to say that I seriously NEEDED some yoga so this led to more spontaneous Midnight Yoga sessions in the midst of the move and unpacking. (I might think of copyrighting Midnight Yoga© sequences!)

All my boxes arrived from Cape Town (when we left Sydney, we shipped all our stuff back to Cape Town, so Kelly had to unpack all my stuff and freight it back to me here in Amsterdam). It was exciting and sad at the same time to see all my old familiar things. It's just in a completely different context now, hence the sadness. Still... there was loads of work to be done so I had no time to stay nostalgic for long.

And then I realized: I HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF. Before leaving Sydney, we'd given bags and bags of stuff away already. But since living with much less in the past 6 months, you realize you really don't need THAT much. So now, I've got yet another suitcase worth of stuff to give away. Clearing out stuff is GOOD. It just clears the energy and creates more space. And NO, I don't mean this just in a physical sense of clearing space so I can obtain more stuff... Coz that would just defeat the purpose, right? I mean that when you give away old stuff, it clears things energetically even on an emotional and mental level. At least for me it does. Don't hang onto things and get too attached to them. It's JUST STUFF. (Maybe this is also the effect of growing up in a pack-rat family of HOARDERS. What's the point in stuffing your cupboards full of things which you never use?!)

In between unpacking and organizing, yesterday I thought it would be nice to go for another vinyasa class. Just to break the monotony of running up and down the stairs and figuring out what goes where. I'm glad I went. We did HANDSTANDS! Against the wall of course, but can't remember when the last handstand I did was... probably in Sydney with my old teacher, when she let me do handstands and drop over to backbends. :)

And the other thing we did in vinyasa class: Kurmasana followed by Yoganidrasana (which is essentially an upside down Supta Kurmasana). And guess what? I BOUND IN YOGANIDRASANA!! (minus the bedroom eyes and head-tilt like this very funny, UNSEXY posed-pose)

It reminds me of the turtle in Super Mario Bros, when it dies. An upside down version of it.


So... OK, my body must remember the Supta Kurmasana bind. I just need to keep practising to get it back. Couldn't wake up this morning to practice coz I had a restless night of sleep again last night... Funny story: the bed in my new apartment looks like a Queen bed. But... Once you throw off the covers, it's actually 2 single beds joined side by side (they don't even have a queen sheet over them - they're literally 2 single beds side by side). The bed bases are on wheels and move around easily even when locked. So... I guess I'm not used to sleeping on a single bed (TINY!) and have been rolling around and kicking the beds apart and even landing on the floor in the middle of the night! So long story short: No, couldn't wake up to practice this morning.

On the up side, my landlord is a really sweet old grandfatherly type who has since got a builder to join the bed bases together, and his wife has gone out and bought a thick mattress pad to put on the top. So hopefully when I get back tonight, I'll have a version of a bed like they do in hotels (y'know... they usually join 2 singles together as a queen in hotels).

I have no idea how I have digressed so far in this story. It's 8.25pm and work is winding up. I am headed to London on Wednesday this week.

Wow. My life has been pretty busy. Sorry for the boring post.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Moving House. (Again...?!?)


I move out of Beige Heaven tomorrow morning. And I haven't packed yet. Well, I'm officially out this weekend but I get the keys to the new place tomorrow, so I might as well move. Right?

This means I've officially been in Amsterdam for 6 months, right about when my freelance contract terminates and when the fulltime contract kicks in (B'bye corporate housing, Hello beautiful new apartment). Super friggin' fast.

I am in a panic with no clue where to begin. Kept thinking "It'll be easy. I just moved here with 1 suitcase. How much stuff do I have to move?!"

Turns out, along the way I've probably collected about another suitcase worth of clothes. And books. And a pantry of food. And shoes, oh yes shoes. (Hey! It was middle of winter when I came and now it's summer, how the heck would I have had enough seasonal clothes and shoes?!)

Now's when I really NEED a butler to do my bidding. You know how I hate packing. Someone suggested grabbing all my clothes out the wardrobe and into garbage bags - forget about laying them out in a suitcase.

I'm going to think about how to do this and where to begin. Procrastinate a little bit more before I start the actual packing.

Joyful Surrender... Where Art Thou? (By the way, it's 9.55pm and I'm still getting work emails on the Blackberry.)


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Gay Pride Parade 2010

...Of course it had to happen! You can't be "the only gay in the village" if you're living in Amsterdam - aka Gay Capital of Europe. (Come to think of it, I seem to end up living in the gay capitals of the world - Cape Town, Sydney and Amsterdam. Maybe because where I'm from in Singapore is on the opposite end of the scale on the tolerance level - although there is a thriving gay scene in Singapore in spite of this).

Anyways, I digress.

Yesterday was GAY PRIDE DAY!!! What a beautiful day to celebrate everyone's individuality as human beings. Zero judgment. Zero nay-saying and tut-tutting. In a city where there's a high tolerance for everyone and everything, it was gorgeous to watch the outpouring and celebration of all things gender-bending. You could totally feel the outpouring of love from everyone (gay, straight, trans-gender, dogs, babies...) in the streets for the people taking part in the Gay Pride canal parade.

Amsterdammers love an excuse for a good theme party. So, of course someone had to throw a party with the theme of "Let's Go Sailing!" We raided the costume shops, army surplus shops and tattoo parlours (for fake tattoos of course).

This is Sailor-Moon-me:

It started off with a relatively grown-up party with a breakfast buffet spread (if you looked past the fact that everyone in the room looked a little silly!)

And the plan was to head over to another apartment belonging to a friend of the Sailor-Party-Host, coz this guy she knew lives on the Prinsengracht, the canal directly overlooking the parade itself. In preparation for the parade, everyone got glittered. Even the straight boys got preened with stars and sparkles all over their faces.

Sailors leaving for the other party, en masse. By bike, of course.

We bumped into this dude on his way to the parade too. HOW RIPPED IS THAT SIX-PACK?!? (He loved that I asked to take a picture of him! HAHA!)

Festive mood in the streets.

None of us except the Sailor-Party-host knew this poor guy who lived on the Prinsengracht. He didn't quite know what hit him when 20 sailors decided to crash his little tea party of 5 people. He had the most awesome view of the canal from his living room windows, plus it was pissing down intermittently, so it was very civilized being indoors!

Of course, everyone's fave... the S&M float. Leather chappies, exposed bottoms and all!

While the majority of floats were full of young and fit gay boys and their young and fit fag-hag friends, here's one of the few lesbian floats! These girls (or should I say: women) were having a grand old time.

In between the floats, these guys on smaller boats went past with giant bags on the end of sticks (almost like a tithing bag in church, haha!) Except these were shaped like condoms. They were collecting money for the HIV foundation. What a good idea.

It was kind of interesting that different floats were sponsored by different companies... some were radio stations and nightclubs... which were kind of predictable and understandable. Here's the STD clinic float. We were trying to figure out WHY IN THE WORLD these guys were wearing terrible headgear. Is that supposed to be gonnorhea on their heads?! HAHAHA!

The random Japanese float... sponsored by a Japanese restaurant.

More random floats with random themes... a Middle Eastern theme (with sheikhs). And the Gay Swim Amsterdam (huh?! Really?)

But then real CORPORATE floats came sailing past. Like... GVB (the tram company)

And the TNT float had people synchronizing dance movements. Of course when I shot this video, they had to be dancing to the campiest song, "I Will Survive".

At least TNT got in the mood and had a theme for their float. Some of the other corporate floats were really *BORING*. I think these big international companies feel compelled to take part in the parade just to show their support for the gay community coz "it's the politically correct thing to do"... but they don't really GET IT coz instead of going with the spirit of the parade and theming up their floats and having a proper gay old day... they stick a bunch of BORING CORPORATE BUSINESS MEN on them. Like... Seriously?! Some of the middle-aged, pot-bellied guys on the bank floats looked really confused and in total shock. HAHAHA!

It was raining down really hard at some points but none of the other floats cared. They were virtually half-naked. But look at these boring corporate people, with their brollies out!

I didn't bother taking photos of the other boring corporate floats. We ended up shouting down at them "You're RUBBISH!!" HAHAHAHA! I mean, really... Why bother sponsoring a float for the sake of it coz everyone can see right through your trying to be politically correct and not really meaning it.

We all got really excited when we saw this float come past. Because of the giant cap in front, we thought it was the sailor's boat (like us!) ...Turns out it was the Police float. In this context, somehow these men in uniform just looked like the Village People and not actual cops! HAHAHA!

Then the REAL sailors' float came past. They all did a double-take when they looked up and saw us sailors screaming down at them. They were motioning for us to "come on down and join us! You guys should be on this float too!"

(One of the dudes on this float had a banner that said "Looking for love? Call 06******". I honestly think it was his personal mobile number. Cheeky!)

Some of the floats were shooting out confetti or smoke intermittently. The one in the video below was bellowing bubbles and soap suds!

It was raining throughout the parade, of course. And while most people on the floats were half-naked, this is what the bystanders looked like.

We had such a grand old time, sticking our heads out the 1st floor window, shouting and waving at the floats and the people walking past downstairs.

And throughout the afternoon, the sailors in the party got progressively drunker and drunker (as sailors do, of course). May I remind you that I don't drink, so was happily snapping away at the unfolding silliness. Heh.

And then someone decided to put on '80s songs and it was all over from there. We were dancing and singing along at the top of our voices and serenading people walking past downstairs. (By this time, the owner of the apartment and his tea party of 5 people had retreated to the kitchen at the back! HAHAHA! Talk about seriously gate-crashing then hijacking a party!! We should've worn pirate outfits instead!!)

This is probably my favourite picture of the whole day. Everybody really *IN THE MOMENT* and screaming out to A-ha's "Take On Me".

Ah... Amsterdam in Summer... There's nothing quite like it! :)
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