Reading Between the Lines in Amsterdam’s Red Light District

Would you like a hit? So asked a random stranger as I passed by the world’s most famous street, right in the center of downtown Amsterdam. Coming from the not-so-developed third world, we must stay away from strangers. Perhaps the exact defense mechanism kicks in when a stranger approaches you in a far-developed region like Holland. I refused the kind gentlemen offering me a gram of cocaine and kept walking in my path of sin.

Who else can read between the lines in areas like these, where lust triumphs over everything? Is it only about sex? A few minutes of pleasure, that’s it, or does it lead to satisfaction.

I saw couples in their thirties, men in their forties, and women in their sixties walking alongside me. Are they here to just window shop? Some of them might enter the neon-lit glass doors, but what next?

You can be a professional, a bank executive, or even an emergency physician just clocking out at 3 in the night, but you’re willing to detour from the Red Light District. You’re no different from the 15th-century sailors docking at Amsterdam for some ‘fun’. So what difference does it make? The alpha male is still hungry for food, sex, and sleep five centuries later. Haven’t we evolved yet? Those notions of artificial intelligence, and the space race, I bet folks like Zuckerberg, Musk, et al., might want to take a sneak peek, too, if they are in Amsterdam for one reason or the other.

Why do we make the effort of suiting, and going to work, if all of us might end up flocking on the streets of red light district someday? Are we trying to prove anything? Does it make us happy? I am just another male in my 20s asking the same questions. I have been to high school, and college, did my undergraduate, and am currently doing my graduate studies. But my presence, and another six feet tall fearless-looking dude selling me cocaine, are standing on the same street. He probably doesen’t care about what others think about him. I don’t either.

In the last 800 years, many lads, blokes, brothers, whatever euphemism works for you, have come down these streets for pleasure. But the definition of pleasure remains the same, between the lines. As someone who did his public management project on Lahore’s Heera Mandi (Diamond Market), I wonder what difference does it make? Is it the color of their skin that criminalizes their services? Ironically, a brown man would love to seek pleasure from a white prostitute in Amsterdam’s red-light district, but will the same brown man accept someone from his own family pursuing the same profession?

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