All I ever heard about this harbour city is that, after being bombed flat during WW2, Rotterdam was completely rebuilt by some visionary architects who made it the modern and out-of-the-way urban jungle that it is today.
Crossing its wide, busy roads feels like walking through a city; the water surfaces (which are usually so large I won’t call them ‘canals’) reflecting the skyscrapers blinking lights at night look like the open sky dotted with stars.
Since the moment I first stepped into Utrech from the back of the train station, I felt ‘something different’ hovering in the crisp winter air. It was something I haven’t ever experienced in Amsterdam, something tangible in the streets and – yet – seemingly impossible to pinpoint.
“We should ask Ammar what the traditional games played in Egypt are. Then we teach them to the kids of Bijlmer and arrange a play-day for the vernissage of the mural” I said to Anouk while we were setting the dinner table and a full white moon was shining on the wide, iconic windows of Amsterdam’s buildings.
On that afternoon, Anouk had shown me the ‘ghetto of Amsterdam’ and I couldn’t get over all those kids from various ethnicities playing together, or their laughs echoing over the lake that majestically mirrored the 11-storey wall that soon would have been painted by Ammar Abo Bakr.