From what I gather, the Oost (East) of Amsterdam is where most of the immigrant and minority communities live. I’d been to the Oosterpark once before with Jon, to visit the Tropenmuseum located inside the park. Since the museum deals with the Dutch history of slavery and colonialism, I found this sculpture near the museum particularly poignant: chained slaves emerging on the other side of a portal to gain power and freedom.
Both Womad and the Roots Festival represent world music and are hugely popular events; that’s pretty much all the similarity they share. The Roots Festival is definitely bigger in scale than what we got in Singapore: five different stages compared to two. And the crowd was so diverse, which was such a pleasure to behold. No predatory expat-hunting posers in stiletto heels sinking into the grass, no boho uniforms of ethnic-print maxi dress, chunky jewelry and gold sandals. Just a laid-back vibe, lots of sunshine and good music. You could say we were pretty happy.
All around the park were stalls selling various world cuisines at affordable prices, jewelry, clothing, even art.
I was really intrigued by all the soul food and Caribbean cooking. We just don’t get that in our part of the world! The Dutch once held sizable colonies in the Caribbean, such as Surinam, a country of which I’d never heard until I moved here. Surinamese food is a big thing here.
For €4, we each sampled a Surinamese bara, which is a flavorful Hindustani-influenced fried bread made with bean flour. Mine was filled with grilled chicken and slathered with the spiciest sauce I’ve tasted since I moved to Holland, which turned my mouth into the Pacific Ring of Fire. And I mean that only in a good way; I’ve missed this kind of spice. The bara kept falling apart, but it made a real lip-smacking kind of mess, one that I’d definitely have again.
I’ll say it again, I really loved the crowd. I love that moms bring their babies to events like these (there is life after childbirth!), I love that people dance like nobody’s watching (because nobody does!) and I love that you can find people of all ages grooving together with such joy. Europeans must be solar-powered… because when the sun comes out they really just come alive.