Snooping around in Amsterdam.

The long-awaited Europe post is finally here, and A is for Amsterdam!

I have been to Amsterdam once a few winters before, and thought that since I was visiting in summer this time, my wardrobe can be slightly more lightweight. Little did I know that we would be experiencing slightly freakish weather – even the locals said that what we were experiencing this June was pretty much winter all over again. However, it being me, I still trotted out in the tiny shorts that N (the beautiful bride whose wedding I was attending) gave me; then proceeded to brave her wedding in a backless dress. I think I have acclimatised well. Bravo.

Since I was on bridesmaid duty this time round, I only had two days to head out – which was okay by me, largely because I had no exact agenda. I just wanted to snoop around, explore.

How lucky was I that the two days I headed out were filled with sunshine and surprises!

Along this lane I’d turn into was a pretty little vintage shop.

But guess what? I didn’t go in (Surprise, surprise!)… because I was distracted by its next door neighbour…

Now I’ve always preferred cosy, quaint, little shops over large institutions and malls. So I was absolutely delighted when I chanced upon Cine Qua Non, a film shop that is stocked and stuffed with everything film related – DVDs, photos, posters, postcards, books, calendars, collectibles…

The Fifty-Foot Woman guards the door.

The space itself, I think is most accurately described as a physical manifestation of the word ‘paradox’. It is messy yet organised; simple yet overwhelming; utilitarian and functional, yet wild and imaginative.

My dream study/workspace. Right now, I just have a mess.

Dying and going to heaven? This is pretty much my version on earth, sans the dying bit of course. I love the creaky flooring – wooden boards with chipped faded mint green/baby blue paint. I love the haphazard lighting – a few spotlights, a few fluorescents… I could camp in there until I’ve gone through everything. (Yeah. Could.)

The DVDs don’t come cheap – at least the ones that caught my eye, were around 30€ on the average. But they are pretty unique titles and many come with great features – not the sort you’ll get on discounts at megastores. I would have drawn up a list and do some research before going in for the kill, but I didn’t have the time to head back this trip, so I decided to leave with a few postcards for Bestie and other worthy recipients. A return, for sure.

Before I left, I had a chat with the lovely owner, who lamented that shops like these are closing all over Europe because of… well, the usual: high costs of operations, illegal downloading, piracy, competition from industry giants, etc. I absolutely empathise, and I truly, truly wish him well. There is something intimate and personal about these small operations that will always draw me to them. That these people who run these businesses have so much love, faith and passion for what they do is already something worth applauding; and that they will take time to share with you a little nugget of information of that postcard that you are holding, or the director of the film you were checking out just makes the experience so much more special.

Cine Qua Non is at Staalstraat 14, 1011 JL Amsterdam.

You can all them at +31(0) 20 62 555 88, email them at cine.qua.nonsense@gmail.com

Or visit them virtually at www.cine-qua-non.nl or www.cinequanonline.com

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