It is an normal Amsterdam evening. The city is alive with people rushing around from one place to another. I am standing at a zebra crossing surrounded by a small group of unsuspecting pedestrians, all of us waiting to cross the busy road in front of us. Time pass, cars honk their horns, trams rattle along their tracks and cyclists cycle by. We wait. Eventually the green light gives us the signal that it is safe to cross. I take a breath and as we all step forward I do something that no one around me is expecting. I start talking to myself… very loudly.
“Attempting to cross any street or road in Holland provides a unique set of challenges for the average expat!”
My sudden and loud outburst catches everyone off guard. It’s not the kind of thing most people expect to suddenly happen when crossing the road. At first (after the initial jump) their reaction is to simply stare at me, confused and nervous, trying to make sense of what is going on.
“Not only do you have to avoid cars but you have to look out for bikes and trams as well!”
Having then decided that my behaviour is clearly not ‘quite normal’ the surrounding crowd slowly starts to edge away. I continue to narrate our journey across the road like a story teller who’s had a nervous breakdown.
“And if you do successfully make it to the other side alive you have to be careful you don’t over shoot the target and walk directly into the nearby canal. It makes the whole thing like one giant game of Frogger!”
By the end of my strange monolog everyone is avoiding eye contact with me. Perhaps they fear that doing so will result in me following them around for the rest of the day while providing a running commentary on whatever they are doing.
None of them have noticed the small, two person camera crew with the tiny camera set up on the other side of the street or the small microphone I am wearing. They all think I am mad. I don’t blame them.
“That was great,” the producer tells me when I finally reach the other side and my fellow pedestrians have dispersed as quickly as they can in a bid to get away from me. “We just need you to do it a few more times. Then we can move onto the next scene.”
To be continued…