Our man [formally] of Amsterdam

The deKey housing co-op experience
August 26, 2009, 03:08
Filed under: Amsterdam, Travel

Dutch still life - a scene in the laneway of the university linking two of the campuses I attend.

First down for breakfast. Before hard boiled eggs are all gone, then trek half way across the city to housing agency to sign lease and pick up keys. It’s like an evacuation centre where the only ‘escapees’ are 20-something-year-old students straight off trans-Altlantic or intra-Europe flights. There is free coffee, free breakfast, free Chinese massage and live music. And the really interesting thing is that the staff are dressed like singing and dancing minstrels from the chorus line of a Broadway musical: white tails, glittering shoes and top hats that sparkle. One guy even had a cane but he used it to heard the ‘escapes’ like a shepherd might his flock. And this all before 10am. At the housing co-op. To sign the lease and pick up keys.

Done in less than an hour. Then trek half way back across the city to pick up some things at the hotel and check out the flat. SIM card: oh yeah. And passport photos for student card. My banana is squashed and the water bottle leaked and the last tenant was a disgrace because there is so much dust and dirt and stains on the bare cement floor – it had to have been a garage before the owner thought a human could squeeze in here and where do you open the window because it’s so stuffy.
“Knock knock. It’s the RA.”
“What’s an RA?”
“Resident assistant. My name is Tim.”
“Pleased to meet you. Where’s the Internet connection or socket?”
“Over there.”

Does a hospital ward or oversized prison cell conjure anything for you? Minimalism  triumphs and what’s that smell?
“Tim, how do I get any ventilation in here?”
“That narrow vent above the door. And you can open the big glass doors too.”
The glass doors with their 80s slimline venetians occupy the cavity where the garage door once was. They open inward straight off the footpath. Well they would if the key fitted the lock. It would be like living in a terrace house that abutted the footpath and knocking out the entire front wall; that was Tim’s genuine suggestion for ventilation.
“And what happens in nasty weather?”
He shrugs, then shows be the “vashing cabin” and basement storage. He is entirely friendly and helpful.
“There’s a welcome BBQ next week on the rooftop terrace,” says Tim. “The details are on Facebook.”
Right, I better get familiar with Facebook. And with a mop.

Back to hotel for the rest of my gear – pack, eat, lug stuff 20 mins from hotel to musty flat in the Western Docks. Unpack, go shopping for cleaning materials and oh yeah, passport photos for tomorrow and SIM card. Thirsty now.


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

G, may I suggest you bake a cake and burn some candles to remove the musty smell? That’s my Martha Stewart tip of the day. A rooftop party eh? Enjoy.
A x

Comment by Anita

Um, bit hard to bake a cake without an oven, and I have no fridge to keep cake-baking ingredients either but the candles might work. Thank you.

Comment by Grant Doyle

ooof. Sounds eerily like the ‘halls of residence’ I toured at CSU Bathurst just recently, to see whether they were deserving of my first-born. But all the chirpy student ambassadors we met assured us they were awesome and one got used to the co-ed bathrooms………

I’d go pot-pourri along with the candles. And sandlewood essential oil on it 🙂

Comment by Jan

what was it like to live in dekey overall? where did you live? would you recommend it?

Comment by Naomi

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