Houses on Amsterdam canalDutch houses have big windows. And thin (or no) curtains. From inside, this means the living space looks large and bright and the residents have a good view of the garden, passing cyclists, buses or the nearest canal – depending on where they live. From outside, it means that passers-by have the chance to spy slightly on those inside. Obviously there are rules to this game: it is not considered polite to stand with one’s back to the street gazing into the nearest house or apartment; however, there is no problem with taking a quick look sideways as you walk along the footpath (whilst keeping a sharp lookout with the other eye for any bikes that might mow you down, of course). This ‘speedy sideways stare’ technique means that you can gain lots of glimpses of life inside Dutch homes: families eating dinner; children watching TV; parents relaxing or doing housework… At this time of year you can even pick up all sorts of clever Christmas interior decorating tips for the price of a sideways glance. The ‘speedy sideways stare’ is not confined to home spying: our Sunday morning tram journey into the city centre offers further glimpses of people’s lives: a lonely looking man with a carrier bag watching the traffic; a young couple with backpacks striding along the street; an old lady drinking tea alone at a table in a deserted square; a shopkeeper opening up for business; street sweepers cleaning up after a busy SatP1070446urday night. Where do they all come from? Do they have families? How are they feeling today? We can only guess the answers to these and many more questions. It makes me think how little we know of many people we meet on a daily basis. For the most part we get glimpses – only sometimes do we have the privilege of getting more involved with people, finding out more about them and offering more than a glimpse of our own lives and passions. Just a thought!