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So Not Together, Then

A few days ago, with the corona pandemic in full swing, I headed to a DIY store to buy a few things. Upon arrival, I was confronted with a distressingly long queue, so I asked the woman in front of me if she had any idea how long a wait we might be in for. Ten minutes at most, she said, adding that the line was even longer on Saturday but even then it didn’t take long to get a trolley. And indeed, soon enough it was our turn to enter. In the meantime we had struck up quite a conversation: her house conversion had started too soon and she couldn’t sell her artworks on the market anymore. Her B&B has also stopped operating. Our animated discussion was reason enough for the officer monitoring the proceedings to conclude that the two of us were here together. In stern tones, he demanded that the woman prove that she did not belong with me. Here are my car keys, she responded. His gaze shifted to me, and I showed him the keys to my bicycle. He simply refused to believe that we were not a couple, even after we got more than just a little bit peeved with him. We were informed that if we were seen talking to each other or engaging in any other kind of contact inside the store, we would be kicked out together immediately. At the nearby checkout counter, another woman who had witnessed the whole thing vented her remaining frustration in no uncertain terms. It was just ridiculous, in her opinion, and we agreed. But we didn’t dare say anything to each other.

by Hans van Keken

What’s going on behind the silent facades of the Jordaan district during lockdown? Verhalenfestival Jordaan – the Jordaan Story Festival – asked residents to submit their stories. What’s going on in their heads and in their lives?

Eight of the stories were read and recorded by local actors and used to create the audio walk Niets te zien (Nothing to See).


met dank aan: Gemeente Amsterdam West Soundtrackcity Het huis van Amsterdam