Friday, May 05, 2006

vier 5 mei


... op 5 mei vieren we onze vrijheid


It's Bevrijdingsdag (Liberation Day) today, 61 years after the Netherlands was liberated from the German occupation. Festival and events took place all over the country, starting in Leeuwaarden, this year under the theme "Vrijheid en verscheidenheid" (freedom and diversity). Former prime minister Ruud Lubbers (now UN High Commissioner for Refugees) explained this term very well on the NOS programme Concert op de Amstel.

In the past this country was divided into "hokjes" (literally dens, meaning segragated places) of religious believe and social classes, but the liberation was an experience which united people as one. Today, he says, there is much division in the world, and in this country. Then, just as now, there was talk of the division and differences between ‘them’ and ‘us’. Problems with immigration, cultural diversity, tolerance, racism and the like are increasingly being debated at in political circles and in society, but in a climate of 'hardening' attitudes.

The need, or the search, for "freedom and diversity" is just a relevant then as today.
















In Vrijheid

Kom broeder, geef je hand
vergeet je razernij
moed is de moeder van de rede

Kom zuster, schuif eens aan
en zet je angst op zij
sluit je aan en lucht je hart in vrijheid

Kom broeder, drink eens uit
vandaag is het vijf mei
feest van een zwaar bevochten vrede

Kom zuster, dans met ons
draai je rokken rond
dans op de klanken van de rede

vrede wordt zo voor onze neuzen weggekaapt
en vrijheid is niet iets dat zo van straat wordt opgeraapt
vrede is bevochten
vrede is bevochten
maar vrijheid wordt bevochten
op een oorlog die nooit slaapt
vrijheid wordt bevochten
op een oorlog die nooit slaapt

Kom broeder, drink eens uit
we zijn hier niet alleen
wij zijn hier van lieverlede samen

kom zuster, dans met ons
voel je gelijk en vrij
kom, draai je rokken rond in vrijheid

vrede wordt zo voor onze neuzen weggekaapt
en vrijheid is niet iets dat zo van straat wordt opgeraapt
vrede is bevochten
vrede is bevochten
maar vrijheid wordt bevochten
op een oorlog die nooit slaapt
vrede is bevochten
vrede is bevochten
vrijheid wordt bevochten
op een oorlog die nooit slaapt
vrijheid wordt bevochten
op een dreiging die nooit slaapt



(English version of the official freedom song .
Song itself can be heard here )

at the market

Just got back from the Haagse Markt, reputedly the biggest market in Europe. Prices are often more half of that in a supermarket, and you buy from a vendor, so get that added 'personal' touch too. Really, the way to save money (like any Dutchperson would do) is to go to the traditional market, which I do every Friday. And again I am shocked at the ridiculous prices that I saw in Strasbourg, which can be up to two or three times the price here!

Always fun to go there, to be between the din of haggling and vendors shouting prices, and to be in the midst of so many colourful, and sometimes exotic fruits and vegetables and other goods.
It's a bit far from where I live, but with the bike it takes around 20minutes. Down side is everytime I go I tend to buy lots of things, which means a long and tiring bike journey home...but you get to save money, so it's worth the effort : )

Shopping this week

2kg clementine

2

1.5kg banana

1.5

0.6kg seedless grapes

1.9

.5kg strawberries

1.5

5 lemons

0.5

3 courgettes

1

3 aubergines

1

1kg paprikas

1

2.5kg tomatoes

2.5

.5kg giant mushrooms

1.25

.5kg carrots

0.5

.5kg olives mix

2

.5kg stringbeans

1.5

total

€18.15

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Englandspiel

'Englandspiel'
(‘England game’)

The statue is one depicting the story of Icarus, who escaped with the help of wings made out wax on his shoulders. Ignoring his father’s warning, Icarus flew too close to the sun, as a result of which his wings melted, and he fell into the sea and drowned. It stands for the 54 secret agents who were parachuted into the Netherlands by Allied Forces and arrested by the occupiers. The excellent movie ‘Soldier of Orange’ (Soldaat van Oranje) by Paul Verhoeven depicts such a story.




On the monument it reads:

'ZIJ SPRONGEN IN DE DOOD VOOR ONZE VRIJHEID.ENGLANDSPIEL 1942 - 1944.IN DANKBARE HERINNERING AAN DE 54 NEDERLANDSE AGENTEN EN ALLEN DIE VIELEN IN HET INLICHTINGENWERK'.

(They sprong to death
For our freedom.
Englandspiel
1942-1944
In grateful commemoration of the the 54 Dutch agents and all those who fell in the intelligence effort.)
 Posted by Picasa

Haagse Verzets- en Herdenkingsmonument

'Haags Verzets- en Bevrijdingsmonument'
(The Hague Resistance and Liberation Monument),
situated opposite the Vredespaleis (Peace Palace, seat of theInternational Court of Justice), on Carnegieplein.

In total there are four pillars, each representing the four different groups of the population: neutral, Roman-Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish. The pillars are situated on an dam (dijk), which is supposed to symbolize the ‘dam of recalcitrance’ (een dijk van onverzettelijkheid).


First pillar
'DIE TYRANNIE VERDRIJVEN.1940'.
(The expelled tyranny.1940)

Second pillar
'MOGE HUN ZIEL GEBONDEN WORDENIN DE BUNDEL DER LEVENDEN'.
(May their soul be connected in the bundle of the living)

Third pillar
'LAAT U NIET OVERWINNEN DOOR HET KWADE,MAAR OVERWIN HET KWADE DOOR HET GOEDE'.
(May you not triumph through evil, but triumph evil through the good)

Fourth pillar
'DIE MIJ MIJN HERT DOORWONDT.1945'.
(That which thoroughly wounds my heart. 1945??)



Remembrance plaque

'ALS HOFSTAD EN REGERINGSZETEL WAS DEN HAAG AL OP 10 MEI 1940,DE EERSTE DAG VAN VERRADERLIJKE OVERVAL OP NEDERLAND,HET DOELWIT VAN AANVALLEN UIT DE LUCHT.DE EERSTE VERWOESTINGEN VONDEN PLAATS EN DE EERSTE SLACHTOFFERS VIELEN. TEN GEVOLGE VAN DE OORLOG EN DE BEZETTING ZOUDEN TUSSEN MEI 1940 EN DE BEVRIJDING IN MEI 1945 BIJNA TWINTIGDUIZEND VAN ONZE STADSGENOTEN HET LEVEN VERLIEZEN,ALS SOLDAAT, ALS VERZETSSTRIJDERS, ALS GEDEPORTEERDE,ALS DWANGARBEIDER, ALS GEVANGENE IN TUCHTHUIS OF CONCENTRATIEKAMP,ALS SLACHTOFFERS VAN BOMBARDEMENTEN EN VAN DE LAATSTE HONGERWINTER EN BOVENAL ALS VERVOLGDE OMWILLE VAN RAS EN GELOOF. ONDER DE LAATSTEN RUIM ZESTIENDUIZEND JOODSE MEDEBURGERS DIE DE VERNIETIGINGSKAMPEN NIET OVERLEEFDEN. DIT MONUMENT WIL ALLEN ZONDER ONDERSCHEID GEDENKEN DIE DE WAANIDEE√čN WAARUIT HET NATIONAAL-SOCIALISME IS VOORTGEKOMEN MET HUN LEVEN HEBBEN MOETEN BEKOPEN.HET ROEPT IN STILTE OP WAAKZAAMHEID TEGEN DE DRIJFVEREN IN HET MENSELIJK GEMOED DIE ZULKE WAANIDEE√čN KUNNEN VOEDEN EN TOT ZULKE MENSONTERENDE POLITIEKE SYSTEMEN KUNNEN LEIDEN.IN DIE ZIN WIL HET EEN TEKEN ZIJN VOOR DE KOMENDE GENERATIES'.

(As capital city and seat of government The Hague was on the 10th of May 1940, the first day of the treacherous assault on the Netherlands, already the target of attacks from the air.The first devastations took place and the first victims fell. Between May 1940 and the liberation in May 1945, as a result of the war and the occupation, almost twenty-thousand of our denizens would loose their lives; as soldiers, as resistance fighters, as deportees, as forced labourers, as prisoners in detention centres or concentration camps, as victims of bombardments and the final ‘winter of hunger’, and above all, as the persecuted based race and belief. Of the last (group), around sixteen thousand Jewish fellow citizens did not survive annihilation camps. This monument wants to remember all without discrimination, who have had to pay for the insanity that arose out of National-Socialism (Nazism) with their dear lives. In silence it calls for resilience against stimulants in the human character that can feed such insanity and lead to such dehumanizing political systems. In that sense it wants to be a sign for future generations.)

 Posted by Picasa

4 mei 1945, Herdenkingsdag


Op 4 mei herdenken we...





Twee minuten stilte
voor een eeuwige vrede;
zonder angst,
zonder tyrannie,
maar met volle dankbaarheid.

(Two minutes silence
for an eternal peace;
without fear,
without tyranny,
but with full gratitude.)
















(Veterans and survivals at the 'Indisch monument')
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Home and family

Wherever you feel most comfortable, that is your home. Whoever shows you greatest kindness and comfort, they are your family

Tibetan saying, in an revealing interview with the Dalai Lama

One year on~

Yippeeeee, I’ve managed to maintain this blog for one whole year! That’s cause for celebration~



Through this blog I’ve managed to share with others my thoughts and writings, and also share my life and travels through words and pictures. I guess it helps me in many ways too, to note down my thoughts, opinions, rants and raves. Looking back, it’s good to know that so many events and people can be recalled at any moment.

Hope you’ll keep on reading, and will leave a message or comment!!
I’ll definitely keep on blogging! : ) Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 01, 2006

May 1, International Labour Day

While I was studying when this day came each year the streets of London would be painted…well, red. It’s no secret my uni was/is left-leaning and politically active. SOASians are well known for that. I’ve seen and attended numerous protests, demonstrations and rallies in support of the underdogs and exploited of this unjust world of corruption, abuse and injustice.

The world is not changed by these manifestations of bottled-up anger, sometimes creativity, but always undoubtedly genuine concern and distrust at the ‘system’. There is no need to go to extremes and trash the windows and signs of multinational companies (though their practices are often distasteful and socially irresponsible). But at least we should show and share solidarity with so many across the world, who are voiceless and invisible. So many who toil and labour everyday and every night to keep this world and its production and reproduction processes going, so that we may enjoy our luxurious lives. These people share our dreams of a better world, a better future, and better lives for their children, and children’s children.

Think of them for a day, a minute, or at least a moment.








So comrades, come rally
And the last fight
let us face
The Internationale unites the human race.
So comrades, come
rally
And the last fight let us face
The Internationale unites the human
race.

--The Internationale--

>LA feels migrant day of action
Who's going to do the washing up?

>>Asia's May Day sparks high alerts
Asia's discontents

>>>Why May Day?
history of May Day, which ironically began in the country which today does not officially endorse it
>>>> Destroying Paradise for Profit
A little forgotten corner of the USofA

Wal-Mart Enlists Bloggers in PR Campaign
Walmart's attempts to PR its image

Le MacJob

probelms of aspiring youth

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At the beach


open skies


Reflections


Empty beach


Rolling waves at dusk Posted by Picasa

To the sea

It was past eight in the evening when I decided to go out. I guess I needed it, anxieties and thoughts have been building up ever since I got back from Strasbourg yesterday. So I put on some warm clothes and stepped on the bike. The sun was just beginning to set, and wouldn’t be gone for an hour or so.

It was cold outside. But surprisingly windless. I pedalled quickly, in the direction of the beach at Scheveningen (try pronouncing that properly, and you’re a true Dutch(wo)man). The colours of the setting sun drew me there. There’s always such a rush when I cycle fast. Maybe it’s the wind in my face and hair, maybe it’s the speed at which everything flashes past me, maybe it’s the bumpy feeling as the tires go over the tiles underneath or that soft grinding sound of the tires against the tarmac that deepens as the speed increases, or maybe it’s a combination of all those factors. It’s simply so liberating. At least to me. I like the feeling of being able to control (or steer) where you want to go, and how fast you want to get there. Probably because in ‘real life’ I often feel out of control, especially at the moment. But really, who is in control of their life, let alone destiny?

I was not disappointed at the beach. It was empty, despite the fact that today is the Queen’s Birthday, which is a day of national celebrations and craziness in the Netherlands. Here and there, couples, families, friends, lovers walked on the empty beach. I tread on the soft sand, felt the salty breeze brush against my face and hands, and made my way toward the waves. The sun was hidden behind clouds, but its reddish and orangey glow lit up the horizon in the distance. Waves came and went, came and went, drawing me closer and closer to the water. Each time a wave went, it was as if the sand had been moistened and smoothened into a mirror. You could see the reflection of the sky above, with all the dusky colours of the sunset, in glistening in various shades of blue, orange, white and pink. It was something I didn’t seem to have noticed before. Such discoveries make life meaningful, I guess.

Earlier in the day I was somewhat defensive (and aggressive) on the phone while calling home. I knew the issue of why I was away so long would come up, and it did. And again, as expected, my parents were pestering me about applying for a study for the coming year. I became very irritated, mostly because I felt they distrusted me and doubted my actions and judgements, and seemed label me irresponsible. I simply told them to please stop worrying about how I lead my life, and just accept that I’m already old enough to know what I’m doing (…though, admittedly, sometimes I really have no idea), and to trust that I know the difference between what’s ‘bad’ and what’s ‘good’. Please, I’ve been living alone since 13, and if I wanted to go astray I would have done that a long time ago! I am just sick and tired of having to hear the same naggings and reminders. I need encouragement and guidance, I need understanding and support! I need advice on what to do next, what to study and what to do with my life, and not just blunt and unfeeling instructions (or commands) to go study, study, study!

It helped to be alone, and to be alone in such an empty and open environment. It cleared my mind, emptying it of thoughts about the conversations, events and worries I have been having lately. Truth be told, I am worried, and quiet clueless too. It’s already May, and still I don’t seem to have progressed much in terms of finding a job or suitable study. It’s not like I don’t try. I’ve done all I could on my part to apply to internships, but it’s waiting for the references to go with the applications that is preventing me from going further. If any professor is reading this, please think of the poor, desperate and anxious student next time you decide to drag your time in writing a letter of recommendation.

It must be the broad, open sky, and the endless stretch of sea and water before me, but as I stood there on the beach, I felt so small, so insignificant. It’s a powerful feeling, enough to clear away the clutter of thoughts and worries piled up inside my little head. A little perspective, a little time out and away from everything, does help. It won’t give you the answers and solutions you’re looking for, at least not from my experience this evening, but it will make you clear your mind, and all the troubles that seemed so big and terrible.
You never know what you’ll come across, and what may inspire and delight you.

And unexpectedly I did see a sign which inspired me. Very simple words, but words that will remain for a long time:


(trans. “(S)He who writes, remains”).



And these words too will remain. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 30, 2006

sign on the street


(Honk your horn or
ring your bell
Johan and Simone
A couple for 25 years!)
 Posted by Picasa

Journey home I


The Jean Monnet


leaving Strasbourg


scenery flashing by Posted by Picasa

Tracks




 Posted by Picasa

For fellow trainspotters!


TER 2000

TER


Luxembourg double decker Posted by Picasa

closer to home


Belgian loco


in the south of the Netherlands

flatlands

and lowlands Posted by Picasa