Mind Cleanup – Sept ’19

NEWS

  • All though I have been trying (again) to lower my intake of Drumpf related news, I would be lying if I said the anticipation of a possible impeachment has not been on my mind. Small as the chance may be that he’s actually kicked out of office before his term ends, I do applaud the effort. At the same time, I also realize it will fuel an already polarized situation, with potentially violent outcomes.

  • Another news story I’ve been trying to keep track of is the Saudi Arabia – Iran conflict. This could possibly be the start of something major. I don’t want to say WWIII, but…. The additional tragedy is (once again) Yemen, that never seems to be taken seriously; not when they say they are starving and beg for help, nor when they say they have taken matters in their own hands and have bombed Saudi oil supplies. They are the angry child that quietly turns into a psychopathic killer while the parents are too busy making each other’s lives miserable…

MUSIC

Mayra Andrade is a fascinating singer. She’s from Cape Verde. As a Spanish speaker, I can understand a bit of Portuguese but when Mayra mixes it up with Cape Verdian creole all I have left to go on is the melody and her voice. And Oh my goodness, she is so pretty!!

Because I listen to her regularly YouTube recommended the above video to me, which in turn introduced me to the COLOR channel… which indeed added a bunch of colorful new tunes to my playlists. Look up the Teskey brothers, for example, that bring some pretty convincing blues from down under! And what about BJ the Chicago Kid (I’m guessing he’s from the windy city), Brazilian Luedji Kuna, French Angele or Cameroonian Blick Bassy. The list goes on and on!

MOVIES / TV

I started watching a Danish series called Rita. Remarkably entertaining. I’m not hooked in a way that I want to binge on it, but definitely amusing.

FOOD

Even though I am nearing the age of 35, my mother still doesn’t believe I can cook. I don’t blame her. Until quite recently, I didn’t believe I could either. Life is funny that way.

When I told my mom I wanted to cook for her for a change, she couldn’t help but laugh at me. Even when I started chopping away at her kitchen counter, she shook her head at me in affectionate ridicule. My dad was a bit apprehensive as well.

The sweet potato curry won them over in the end (even though my dad felt the need to mention it looked like something that had already been eaten and eeummm regurgitated by someone else).

The ingredients (for 2p):

  • 1 onion
  • grated or chopped ginger (approx 3 cm-ish)
  • 2 small (or 1 larger?) sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons of currypowder
  • tomato paste (I must say I have made this recipe several times, with different amounts of tomato paste each time and it always turns out OK. All I can say is that it should be somewhere between one and four tablespoons)
  • 250 ml of coconut milk
  • red lentils (again, superbad at estimating the right amount… but eummm… somewhere between one and two handfuls. :P)
  • fresh spinach (as much as you (and your pan) can handle)
  • fresh koriander
  • pumpkin seeds

It’s just a matter of chopping, mixing and cooking all of the above in one pan until everything is soft and yummy. The last two ingredients are nicest if you add them as a garnish.

Eummm yah, reading that back does explain why my mom was laughing at me, I guess… 😛

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Three historic dinners

Who in history would you dine with?

This question was asked (and answered) in last week’s post on “Why evolution is true”-blog.

I started coming up with a couple of names, but got lost in semantics at some point. I mean, I think most people would answer that question by naming interesting characters they would like to have a chat with… right?

But the question is “who would you dine with?”

So then I ask myself, are there people with whom the specific setting of a dinner table would make the meeting more worthwhile? I suppose that would be the case with someone from the culinary world. But then again, I don’t care much for cooking myself, so I wouldn’t know what to ask a top chef or dietary guru anyway…

So then I turned it around: Are there people I would love to have a chat with, but would prefer not to do so over dinner?

And I guess there the answer would be yes.

gandhi eating

Take Mahatma Ghandi for example. I can imagine meeting him would be amazingly inspiring. Life changing maybe. But the guy hardly ate at all, and if the food is tasty and plentiful (like Indian food can be) I tend to eat like an absolute pig. The food would just make me look like a shitty individual and make me feel so self-conscious that any chances I had of saying something smart would’ve evaporated in seconds. Just like the food placed in front of me.

Or what about Stephen Hawking; super duper interesting guy, who I’d be super honored to meet. But over dinner?? I think I might have to pass on that one… Or actually no, I think he would have to.

And then there’s Donald Trump and his off putting dietary preferences. But I’m actually not really worried about this one, because I would never really consider putting his name on my dinner invitation…

I asked my boyfriend just now who he would invite and he actually didn’t have to think very long. His answers: Aleister Crowley, Copernicus and Michelangelo. He didn’t mind not speaking their exact languages and was sure he would find a way… He’s so much braver in these things than I am. 😛

So, I’ve probably given this way too much thought, but here goes:

 

Mary Magdalene

I was named after the very first woman, according to most mainstream Christian sources, Eve. A lot of women came and went after that but none has been so controversial as Mary Magdalene. I am not a religious person myself, but I do believe that many of the events described in the bible and other holy scriptures are based on true events and historical figures.

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I can imagine a visionary man named Jesus of Nazareth walked this earth at some point and I can imagine he did not stay single. I can imagine Mary Magdalene was his spouse and I can imagine that she was demonized after Jesus’ death for all sorts of reasons, earning her the title of “prostitute” in many tellings.

I would love to hear her side of the story. Break some bread, drink some wine, you know how it goes…

 

Sylvana Simons

Another demonized woman. I have written about Ms Simons and her tragic position in Dutch society in previous blogs. Cruel jokes and racist remarks are still part of her daily life, proving her point that Dutch society has something rotten at its core but not really getting her anywhere close to fixing it.

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She still fascinates me. Or rather, the fact that she has managed to get nearly every single Dutchman and -woman to dislike her, fascinates me. I have done my research and am no longer completely in the dark as to why and how this situation has come to be, but I would still love to look her in the eye and hear her out. Over dinner, sure.

 

Mercedes Sosa

La negra, which translates to “the black woman”. To most of us, she would not be considered to be black at all. It is actually a very common nickname given to those  friends and family members in not-so-black circles that have slightly darker or thicker hair or a slightly darker skin.

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I have written about Mercedes Sosa in several of my music related blog posts. Her voice just never ceases to amaze me. The chills she manages to send down my spine, every. single. time. can not be ignored. I love her.

Her death was a slow process that happened in plain sight. She suffered from a parasitic disease called Chagas; every backpacker’s worst nightmare. As her body lost its strength so did her voice, all though she sang and recorded until the very end.

I don’t know what I would say to her if I had the chance to raise her from the dead and enjoy a meal with her. I would just want her to feel my appreciation for her. I don’t really know that much about her nor feel I need to. She is not even human to me. She is just that voice.

Yeah I know, sitting at a table with her would be super awkward…

So there you have it. Three dinners. Three women. Two dead. I’m ready!

The seven sins; minus four, plus one

All though I have a certain fascination for religion and spirituality, in truth I am a devout atheist. My interest stems from an anthropological curiosity for mankind, its history and psychological necessities.

A thing that I have spent many hours philosophizing about is the role of religion in defining the boundary between good and evil. As I am most familiar with Christianity and I run into its symbolism almost on a daily basis, I have often pondered about the value and appeal of the seven sins.

Dismantling the seven sins

I have come to the conclusion that of the seven, there are four that I don’t consider to be all that bad;

  • c812d7bc02a55367723694dbc3232d118b976ac02cbda8f8f302c12d332a347aLust – Why would you demonize sex?
  • Gluttony – what’s wrong with enjoying good food?
  • Pride – I suppose they mean arrogance, which is an annoying trait for sure. But a cardinal sin? Mwoah….
  • Sloth – Aaaugh, don’t judge my laziness; I need it! Even neuro-scientists agree.

The one in the list I haven’t made up my mind about yet, is wrath.

  • Wrath – Merriam-Webster dictionary say wrath is “strong vengeful anger or indignation”. I think everyone has the right to feel anger and definitely indignation. However, I know people that douse their words with the poison of bitterness and hate and that is really sucky, to say the least. At the same time, I am convinced such words always come from people that are hurting themselves and in a very distorted way are actually crying for help. 

And then there’s the two that would also qualify as evil, dark and nasty in my book;

  • Envy – No doubt about it; envy is ugly and anyone that feels this needs to work on eradicating it from their system. No good comes from it.
  • Greed – The core of almost all of mankind’s suffering, if you ask me. 

The eighth sin.

Envy and greed are both dark paths, that every person has walked down, albeit briefly.

A state of mind that may come across as innocent to some but deserves strong condemnation is the passive aggressive feeling of:

Indifference

All though I know many people that let matters of the world get to them in a degree that I feel is unhealthy, indifference is probably the feeling I fear most in the world.

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Buitenplaats de Plantage

As I mentioned in my first Blogtober post, my boyfriend took me out on a mystery dinner last week to a village carrying the poetic name “Vogelenzang”, which means “Bird’s song”.  A very fitting name for such a beautiful place!

The restaurant we went to was actually a former plant nursery, with a green house and outside gardens. Check out the pictures below, to see what they turned it into!

The weather was a bit on the chilly side, with rain constantly in the air but thanks to the good company and the beautiful location it ended up being a wonderful wonderful day!

So, if you are in the Netherlands and are looking for something different: visit Buitenplaats de Plantage in Vogelenzang (about half an hour’s drive from Amsterdam airport)!

 

 

 

 

 

Hutspot, herring and happiness!

It’s the fourth day of Blogtober and I have published a blog only once (but this will be two, as soon as I press the button).

A bad start? Maybe.

Leiden-geuzen

But I have a good excuse. I live in a Dutch town called Leiden, which explodes every year around the 3rd of October, when the siege and relief of the city is commemorated and celebrated. It’s a actually a very interesting history that you can read more about here.

The 3 October festival is something kids and grownups from Leiden and surroundings save up for all year in every sense. People go CRAZY!

There is a huge funfair with rides and attractions throughout the city center. There are several parades, food everywhere and a fireworks show at the end. The traditional dishes, for historical reasons, are herring on white bread and “hutspot”, which is a dish made of mashed potatoes, carrots, onions and a sort of beef stew.

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A masher; kitchen tool to mash potatoes with.

This year we celebrated by eating hutspot in our new neighborhood. About a dozen volunteers had made their take on the meal and a jury of local restaurant chefs decided which version would take home the golden “masher”. The winner ended up being an adventurous neighbor that decided to flavor the hutspot up with some asian spices.  Yummy!

Besides being a super handsome and historically interesting city, Leiden is also has the oldest University of the country, which the city was gifted by Prince William of Orange for the city’s perseverance, suffering and bravery during the Spanish sieges in the 16th century.

For students and outsiders, the 3 October festival is something they love to hate and hate to love. Most straight out hate it and flee the city, as the University closes its doors during these days anyhow.

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After having learned the hard way that trying to get from A to B was futile during these two days of local insanity, I embraced the celebration and am now a big fan, which is actually surprising considering I am not a drinker and the whole city is completely WASTEDDDDD for two whole days.

So, I am in doubt if I should recommend coming to Leiden during the beginning of October or not… In the end it’s actually about personal preferences. You have to be able to see and hear the beauty of it all, amidst rowdy crowds, flashing lights, annoyingly repetitive funfair music (and all other types of music) and stale beer. I love it!

Read more about the festival here.

 

Mind Cleanup – RF16 edition

Roskilde-Festival2

A year and a half ago, while traveling, I met the most wonderful couple from Denmark. I only spoke to them briefly but you know how it goes, sometimes you just need 5 seconds with someone to know you have a click.

Our friendship was sealed after their visit to my hometown some months later, and now it was our turn to visit them. And besides just being great friends, they also gave our trip a major upgrade by giving my boyfriend and me super-special wristbands, granting us access to some behind-the-scenes action (and above average toilets).

It was an amazing week. Let me talk you through some of it!

Music

First of all, there was the music. It’s worth mentioning that the festival gates may have opened on Saturday, but it wasn’t until Wednesday that the music terrain opened (for the masses) and the big names starred. The first part of the week was primarily camping ground partying (not to be underestimated). There were also some smaller stages and performances in the so called “warm up”-days. The bands named below are some I feel are worth mentioning as most other reviews don’t seem to take them into account.

Warm-up

One of the bands I saw during the warm up days was M.I.L.K. Kind of an akward looking dude with a bit of a seventies look and a chilled out vibe.

Wednesday

  • And then, when the gates to the musical grounds opened (and the camping grounds were starting to look and smell increasingly troubling), the first performance to kick the whole spectacle off hit me like a bucket of ice cold water on a hot summer day. It was refreshing and energetic, as well as confronting and slightly uncomfortable. It was filled with love, hope and forgiveness. In all honesty at some point I had to sit down because I was too emotional to stand on my feet any longer.It was the Orchestra of Syrian Musicians, with Damon Albarn.

    It wasn’t so much the songs themselves, but what they stood for that brought me to my knees. Just imagine dedicating your life to music and finally being able to play in a major orchestra in Damascus and then seeing everything around you being destroyed. Many of the musicians fled the country, some stayed. In short, the orchestra fell apart. And even at Roskilde festival, some members could not be present because of visa problems or other complications due to their status as refugees.

    These incredibly strong people, with their very Arabic rhythms and melodies, did not sing of their suffering (as far as I could understand from their comments in between songs). They played and sang with joy and gratitude for being alive and well, inviting the (incredibly white) audience to join in. THEY were welcoming US… It was as much beautiful as it was painful…

 

  • My personal highlight of the week was a performance we hadn’t even really planned to go to. It was Pat Thomas and the Kwashibu area band, that lured us in when we walked past their stage (after watching Slayer).

Their connection with the audience was so energetic that the whole tent was pretty much bouncing up and down. They themselves seemed to be surprised by the love they were getting from the crowd, as some of the musicians took out their phones at some point to film what was going on in front of the stage. Pretty bloody awesome.

  • Another unexpected surprise was Odesza. All though the duo had already made their appearance in my playlists before the festival, I had absolutely not expected their performance to be as vibrant as it was. It wasn’t just the fact that they were switching back and forth from drum kit to mixing board that made it entertaining, both to the eye as to the ear. It was also the colors and lighting they were using on the very cool cube shaped Apollo stage. It was truly mesmerizing.

Thursday

All though we had had quite wonderful weather during the warm up days (which turned out to be a truly appropriate name) by Thursday, everyone was wearing their rubber boots and fashionable ponchos. Luckily we had managed to find a dry spot when the heavens truly started to pour down on us.

  • As it turned out, our place of dry refuge gave us an audio image (we couldn’ t see her, only hear her) of a very entertaining performance by Elle King. She switched effortlessly between country, blues, reggae and pop. And she turns out to be very funny as well!

If you only know her song Ex’s and Oh’s, as I did before hearing her at Roskilde, do check out her other stuff. She rocks.

  • Our next show of the day made us feel like uninvited guests at a Norwegian private party at first, but the atmosphere was pretty contagious and the songs turned out to be pretty easy to sing a long to; it was (pardon my French) Kakkmaddafakka. These extremely Northern-European looking guys really made me smile, as they sang “I wanna be a gangsta. An original G. So come on, please give me your money”. I loved how they were being so polite about it, hahaha!

 

  • All though I did not stay to watch the whole performance, I was dealt a small slice of “what the fuck”-ness as I walked past Grimes‘ performance. Besides not being particularly good, imho, it had the same weird alien vibe that K-Pop artists have going on these days, only… weirder? Thanks Grimes, you really made me feel old…

Friday

  • Luckily Calypso Rose showed up on Friday to save me from that Grimesy feeling. It was the performance we had been looking forward to all week and boy did she deliver! The 76 year old bootyshakin’ queen of calypso knocked my hat off as she sang: I am the daughter of a warrior. No time to rest or retire. Others have come and gone but Calypso Rose is still singing on.

Even after she had left the stage and the lights were switched back on, the audience was still chanting her name. I swear, she must have put a spell on us! Hail Calypso Rose!

Saturday

On the final day of Roskilde Festival 2016 the camping grounds started to empty out pretty quickly. One of the final big performances on the iconic big orange stage was primarily a big feast of recognition for all the Danish visitors, as Dizzy Mizz Lizzy rocked the podium. All though I had never heard of them before, I think they would do very well in the Dutch charts as well. In the video below they play a medley of three of their most popular songs (I think). If you’re into drums and raging guitars, give ’em a go!

Food

Roskilde Festival prides itself in being a non-profit event, providing really cool projects in Denmark and abroad with funds to make the world a better place. Also, their is a strong focus on sustainability and social awareness during the festival itself (all though the enormous amounts of beer and liquor do make it challenging to stay focused on these topics at times). When it comes to the restaurants and food stalls at Roskilde Festival, only proprietors were invited that could demonstrate that at least 80% of their ingredients were of eco-friendly origin. Pretty cool!

My culinary highlights were:

  • The most commonly served lemonade :  hyldeblomst, aka elderflower!
  • Polish sausages, that didn’t turn out to be Polish
    (the Danish word for sausage is actually pølse, so I have learned)
  • Best falafel I’ve ever had
  • ginger shots
  • Danish pastry

People

I am not quite sure how to sum up all the lovely encounters I had during my week at Roskilde Festival, but it was truly heart warming. I don’t know how the rest of Denmark really is (or how many of the great talks I had with Scandinavian looking peeps may actually have been with Norwegians or Swedes) but from the bottom of my heart I want to thank you for making me feel so welcome. Or as one of the Kakkmaddafakkas said:

Thank you for reminding me what normal is

As my blog only covers a tiny slice of what the festival had to offer, I added some other reviews of the festival below:

Mind Cleanup – April

All though May has already kicked into gear my April Mind Cleanup was still due. So here it is. The first topic mostly has to do with celebrations that have taken place in May, but the discussion started on April 30th, so I think it does count for this blog…

emoji lightbulb 2Epiphanies

All though it is something that is not always apparent (to me) a heated discussion that broke loose nationwide last week has reminded me that Dutch society is broken, or at the very least torn.

The discussion started on twitter, where a young woman posted a picture of herself holding a sign reading “No 4th of May for me”.

Beside being Star Wars day, in the Netherlands the 4th of May is also Remembrance Day. On this day we commemorate all the victims of the Second World War and all wars after that.

The point of this lady’s protest-selfie was not that she thought one day was too short to remember ALL of the victims of ALL wars worldwide. She was upset by the hypocrisy of it all. She felt it was all just a farce; how we all pat ourselves on the back for beating fascism in the second world war on the same public square where days earlier our own homegrown, contemporary far-right groups gathered to promote their racist propaganda.

Her hashtag “geen4meivoormei” exploded on twitter and poured out into all other forms of social media and even into the morning newspapers. Most of the reactions I read did not agree with her and you can imagine how some of the harshness that was slung at her, demonstrated she was on to something.

What saddens me the most is that the 4th of May celebration is precisely the kind of day she should be participating in most actively, as it is perhaps the only day that us Dutchies ever shut up for long enough for someone else to be able to make a point. We shut our mouths for two whole minutes.

How useful would it be if we used those two minutes to analyze our own xenophobia, guided by someone who has perhaps been on the receiving end of it? I hope somehow this outspoken young woman finds her way back into this national day of reflection and helps it be an inclusive one, where everyone feels welcome and represented.

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Epic moments

  • I spent a couple of days in Prague at the beginning of the month. Verdict:
    • Beautiful, beautiful town.
    • April is a great time to go, as the fruit trees on the hill are in bloom and the weather is very pleasant (or maybe we were just really lucky, not sure)
    • Love the goulash, not so much the dumplings.
    • A lot of booze-related tourism
    • Friendly people despite of this.
    • I had so many really really deep philosophical talks with my bf that we started to believe we were being haunted by all the great thinkers of Bohemia in our sleep!

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Self reflection

It’s been two years since my trip across the North Sea in the Yvette II and 73 years since grandparents made their trip in the original Yvette.

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Epicureous

I really like sweet potato and especially  when I cut them into fries and bake em in the oven. The only thing I haven’t mastered yet is the right dip to go along with it…

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Movies / Series

I finally got around to watching the 2nd season of Fargo and I absolutely loved it! To my own utter surprise, I really appreciated Kirsten Dunst in it and may even forgive her for the horrible job she did in the Spiderman movies. Apparently she is better at playing difficult roles than she is at easy ones.

So yah, totally recommend Fargo season 2, even to people who haven’t seen season 1 (there is very little correlation between the two seasons)

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Music

At this point I don’t even know if this has much to do with music anymore, but apparently life gave Beyoncé a big truckload of lemons and she made some serious lemonade. I have only seen snippets of the music video and am not completely sure how I feel about all of that but that it’s one for the history books can hardly be denied.

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Cowabunga – funny moments

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Bummerama

  • Ecuador earthquake. 😦 The Japan one was nasty too, but I have a little Ecuador shaped compartment in my heart and my entire heart goes out to those struggling there to rebuild their homes and lives. If you are wishing to contribute to this process and you want to be sure that the money makes it all the way down to those who need it the most, take a look at Runa Foundation’s Emergency Relief Fund