Hi Daddy! look here I am posing for the camera take my pictures, says the little girl of about 5 years of age standing in the big wooden shoes kept outside the wind mill in Amsterdam. The father smiles and clicks several pictures all in different poses for her little model Hadid. Her eyes were brimming with aspirations and ambitions which were so strong made her believe she was a Gigi Hadid and was doing hoto-shoot. Funny enough then how later that evening I saw a pair of eyes that harbored in them a shard of glass directly piercing through the dreams and aspirations of the future telling a sad tale of desperation and the proverbial “limited means”.
I was sitting in a late night 11 pm tram in Amsterdam and I saw a young lady draped in a long overcoat buttoned till the waist. She looked dazed probably on cocaine or hash. She rode fast on a bicycle along the tram all the while trying to protect her modesty by using two fingers of her left hand to pin the front of her flowing overcoat which had noting beneath it. I observed her from the window of the tram and desperately wanted to have a look at what lay beneath the overcoat. Not satisfied with the leg show I strained my neck and stuck my face on the tram window until the tram accelerated and she was left far behind. However due to the frequent red lights she was able to catch up with the tram and I again caught a glimpse of those white legs.
However, on the next curve she came quite close to the side of the tram and in trying to prevent her bicycle from ramming into the tram she took a right and lost her balance. She fell down on her back with the both legs up and the overcoat parted right up to her panties giving the onlookers a show of much more than she had desired at least at that point of time. The tram went far and that figure on the road fell far away from my line of sight.
Both the events left me thinking about the prostitution industry in Amsterdam or anywhere for that matter. Somehow both the events seemed to be connected as if the little girl with dreams had grown up to become a woman riding the bicycle. Am I overthinking? Maybe prostitution is good and a source of income. Doesn’t it drive tourists to the cities like Amsterdam and Hamburg in turn jacking up the revenue from the tourism industry?
Having said that consider this, in today’s modern era where the major economies are driven by consumption and amassing of materialistic wealth, in that context our body is the most basic object that we can call ours and exert our rights upon. The act of paid sex which is the basis of prostitution and online porn for that matter pays a woman to give up that right for a few hours. Now which girl in a very balanced state of mind would have ever dreamt of giving up that right even for a few moments let alone for a few hours. Thus, it would not be preposterous to construe that this industry harps and takes advantage of a girl’s desperation and utter dire circumstances, sometimes tough childhood and molestation, that might have propelled her to make this as a sole source of income.
The red light street in Amsterdam on both sides of the canal
On the contrary people might want to argue that don’t we all give up our right to freedom when we sign to work for a corporate, to all those I would want to say this “think again guys, did you have dreams in your childhood and would you think you ever dreamed of putting a price tag to your bodies”.
Here is one of the quote from my interaction with a lady who worked as a prostitute at night which will make you think about it over and over again.
When asked “Are you happy and satisfied with your work”?
She took a deep breath and paused, probably to make the answer easy to grasp for me, she said “Try being caged in a glass enclosure with nothing but your make up on, with the onlookers giggling and wagging tongues at you and you would certainly know”.
“Back up along the edge, even the smallest of them have to, the curve is too shallow, to manoeuvre”
This line sums up my recent trek to Triund, in India. Coming at a time when I am at the cusp of a change in my career, preferences and likes. It showed how even the mightiest and the smallest have their powers and limitations.
Triund is located at a height of 3000 meters above the sea level. The place is a ridge with a vast expanse of green cover during the summer months. The trek to Triund starts from Mcleaodganj and takes about 3 hrs for a new trekker to scale the stretch. The path to the top is quite rocky and becomes steeper as and when one approaches the top. The last two kilometers are particularly enervating and a pain in the ankles, literally.
Apart from the anticipation of a mesmerizing end the trekkers are enthused all along the way by the artistically molded shapes of tall Oak and Deodar trees which makes you smile at their audacious attempt to scale the mountains and reach the top. On the way you can take rest at various snack points which sell water bottles, biscuits, chips and tea that will keep you energized all the way.
However, as the saying goes “don’t lose heart and let the whole story unfold”. On reaching the top you are greeted by a mighty looking snow clad Dhauladhar range which looks mesmerizing and humbling at the same time. The ridge offers a 360 degree view of the mountains in the front and the city of McLeodganj down on the back side. The obscured view of the white mountains rising among the clouds fills you with awe and admiration. You see, even the high mountains can be shrouded by periods of haze which can often render them unrecognizable and unseen.
Thoughtfully, it is not just the Dhauladhar peak but the air of the ridge that reeks of silence, giving you a chance to experience the goodness and creativity of nature that manifests into the beautiful things around but is seldom noticed. At night, the place goes pitch dark after 1930 hours with only a few mobile phones and night lamps being the only source of light. The sky dotted with numerous stars is one of the best aspects of the nights on hills. It makes you come face to face with the eternity and you wonder if raising one hand will let you to touch and pluck a few stars to take home to the plains only to be riveted by the scenery.
After spending the night when you rise early the next day, the sky is light red with a tinge of blue on the outside, the cool air fills you with devotion for the loving nature of the creator. It happens that when we become one with the surroundings and the veil of self subsides we are able to admire the beauty surrounding us which is eternal and rejoicing.
After the sunrise we started our downward trek with a hope to respect, love and care for each and every thing on the planet. After all the though we admired the skies dotted with stars we tend to forget about the little houses with lights that look same from the hill top, these are the projections of stars on the earth.
Looking up at the stars is longing, looking around and embracing life is love. Perception matters.