When I saw the couple transporting a sofa on a bicycle in my neighbourhood, I went back some years ago. I was new to the Netherlands. My boyfriend of then and I went for a walk in the moon light. Aan de Amsterdamse grachten. My eyes feasted on the lights on the archways of the bridges, on the shimmering water, on the boats. I looked into the open windows that I passed that showed immaculate living rooms. Spring was in the air. And no one could better have celebrated the coming of the season than a couple who cuddled together on the sofa that was positioned on a bridge.
I stopped in my tracks. Staring is normal practice in India. It’s a way of showing your curiosity, and not necessarily experienced by the receiver of the stare as an invasion of privacy. The couple held each other close, kissed and sipped on wine while they too feasted on the sights of the gracht before them. With the moon strategically hanging up in the sky, it looked pretty much like the stage was set for the next performer to walk in because, as one famous person said ‘the show must go on’.
But instead, my boyfriend yanked my hand, said ‘stop staring’, and we moved on. An hour later, when we came back to the same bridge, the couple had gone, leaving the empty bottle on the street. My boyfriend went to inspect the sofa. It was, according to him in perfect condition and we were going to take it home. How I said. Wait here, he replied.
A half hour later, I found myself in the same situation as the couple transporting the sofa in my neighbourhood. If only, I thought someone would take a picture of me at this moment so I could send it home to my folks in India. They thought they’d seen it all when it comes to bicycles as a means of transport.