The Dutch have an odd habit of ignoring the existence of curtains. When they do exist, they often aren’t used. So you get a great view into people’s houses, especially those that live on the ground floor.
One time when I was walking down a particularly quaint street, my attention was caught by a beautiful arrangement of candles, ornaments, and knick-knacks in a (curtainless) window. I stopped to have a closer look and admired the Dutch talent for interior design (more on this in a future post). Then, while peering into the window, I was startled to see an elderly man sitting inside staring back at me. I quickly moved on.
(For the record, so far I haven’t spotted any naked people. Not that I’m looking.)
One day when I was living in Tunis, I got an alarmed text message from one of my Dutch friends. She lived in downtown Tunis on one of the upper floors of a flat which looked across a narrow alleyway onto the roof of the opposing building. Now it just so happens that a man lived in a shack on the roof (a not uncommon arrangement for the poorest people). And, one day while she was sitting near her window minding her business at her computer, she looked up to see… the man watching her through the window and masturbating!
Obviously, she was creeped out and upset. Next time we met up, she asked me my advice about what to do, worried that it might happen again. I suggested that she close the curtains. Her immediate response was, “But I can’t close the curtains, I’m Dutch! I feel claustrophobic when the curtains are shut!” And that for me sums up the innate Dutch aversion to curtains… the Dutch simply don’t like using curtains, even to avert serial masturbators.