When I go to see a film I go to a cinema called the Movies on the Haarlemmerdijk. It’s Wednesday so I make a point of going via the market on the Haarlemmerplein. Not to do my grocery shopping because having a smelly bag of leeks under my seat probably wouldn’t be appreciated. This market is small but it’s lovely to stroll around. In the summer there is a water feature with a series of fountains in the middle of the square and on warm days various children and dogs run through it. On one occasion I see a vagrant washing his feet. By the fishmonger’s stand, that is always in front of the Albert Heijn grocery store, there is a man eating fresh herring the only way it should be eaten. And, as the onion bits fall like hailstones to the paving stones, they are immediately snatched up by a pigeon. Pigeons in Amsterdam eat literally anything.
In front of the market stall selling nuts there is a line-up of people likely attracted by the delicious aroma of roasting peanuts. He’s pretty smart. His neighbour, a green grocer, is looking a little jealous of his competition on the opposite side of the market who seems to be busier. Maybe he is trying to figure out what he could be doing to get more clients. As long as he doesn’t start cooking brussel sprouts or cauliflower.
A fight breaks out in front of the Hema store. A group of boys are arguing and punches fly. A women comes out of the store and bravely steps into the melee. Roaring in a loud, very real Amsterdam accent she yells: “Enough of that noise now and get lost all of you!” With a bit of grumbling the boys stop fighting and obediently move elsewhere. Most likely around the corner where they will pick up where they left off. For now calm has returned in front of the Hema.
I have to keep my eye on the time because the film will be starting soon but it’s difficult to leave the market behind. If you sit and really pay attention to what is happening on an Amsterdam square it might even be more interesting than what you see on the cinema screen.