Dutch Window Culture

‘Windows to the soul’, they say,
but I say, a way to control
the environment you live in
– changing it up, depending on your mood.

By opening up the blinds
– letting the world in,
– able to people-watch
often without people watching you,
because the Dutch are taught from young
not to stare (for too long).

By covering windows with a matte plastic film,
providing the personal privacy, whilst
proudly showing off a sneak-peak of décor,
cute cats on fluffy pet beds,
or how grey can match with reds.

And even when the blinds are closed
when you walk past some ground-floor windows
you’ll find them waiting to be watched
decked out like shop fronts,
art behind glass
from busts of Laurel & Hardy,
and trains of toy-trailers
suspended on a makeshift swing
business promotion,
art exhibitions
and uplifting messages
– made by both adults and kids.

Window-watching is
a carefully balanced, Dutch cultural act:
staring for too long
is socially not-done
and makes the ones glared
at infringed in their privacy.

But, if you’re glancing a little
– with a nod or a smile-
to the person behind the glass it’ll
be both a compliment,
and a form of acknowledgement;
to be seen by the world
around you, and appreciated
for your (dis)taste in décor
– because it warranted a glance..

That movement of engagement
can be joyous,
or voyeuristic.

The Dutch dichotomy
between the need for privacy
and a never-ending curiosity
so that the middle of the Venn diagram
the tightrope,                                                    the cultural balancing act,
with guilty pleasure

as the safety net.