Times they are a-changin’

These are the first words I write from my new home. I don’t have Internet yet, only on my phone so uploading this may have to wait… Also, writing without having twenty tabs open in my browser should be interesting. Elaborating and fact checking won’t be happening so. Luckily I did find my external harddrive with a treasure of (slightly nostalgic) music that can keep me company.

Not that I am in need of much company as I share this wonderful new home with my cutiepie boyfriend. I am actually having one of my first evenings alone here and the computer finally lured me in, despite its lack of access to interwebz. my computer was one of the first things I unpacked, but it took me another week or so to find the box with my mouse, which somehow got stuffed in a separate box last minute.

Given the circumstances I fear this particular blog won’t entail much, even though my moods have been quite contemplative lately… Because really, people… what is up with the world?? And I’m not even talking about the US elections. In my country alone there is enough worrying rhetoric being thrown around to sink my heart and raise my pulse on a daily basis. It dumbfounds me (quite literally sometimes).

I have been so annoyed with my inability to express my feelings about all of this… There had been the Sylvana Simons saga, combined with the ridiculously heated Black Pete discussion. There has been the trial against Geert Wilders and the divisive language uttered by newly funded opposition party Denk. And outside our borders: the referendum in Italy; the upcoming elections in France; omnipresent populism ; anti-intellectualism; xenophobia. And oh how my heart goes out to the insanity going down in Syria… All sorts of matters that deserve blogs of their own, if only I found the words.

After thinking it over the last couple of weeks I have come to the conclusion that my word-paralysis stems from the fact that the wrong energy is driving these thoughts. My blogs are usually fuelled by amazement, wonder and not uncommonly annoyance or straight out anger. Anger may not always produce the most poetic of sentences but it does keep the words flowing.

The persistent sentiment now is sadness. Maybe even anxiety. These are such passive energies. Also, I keep coming to the uninspiring conclusion that I just understand so little of it. And I keep waiting for someone to say something that will make this global conundrum make sense, but I am starting to realize…….

…see? There it is again… I don’t even know how to finish that sentence… I am starting to realize there is nothing to realize?  I am starting to realize it just “is what it is”?  I am starting to realize there is no deeper meaning to it all? Boo to those conclusions,  Epi!!

With my personal life all going so peachy it it easy to just retreat into my little cocoon of private bliss. I have juse signed my permanent contract with the company I have been working at for the last two years, giving me more security and slightly better pay. I have a house with three bedrooms and a garden. I am in a beautifully harmonious relationship. I have great friends that I can count on and a family that is going through a surprisingly stable and conflict-free phase.

So, who cares about the rest of the world, right..? Well… I care  that’s bloody who!! I want to care more not less! I want to shake up my fellow countrymen and let them know we are heading down the wrong path. I want to scream out and cry for the state of the world. We can do so much better than this. I can do better goddammit!

*sigh*

…Happy Holidays…

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:

Insane asylum seeking

Last week I went to a meeting about language coaches for refugees in Leiden, the town I live in. I heard that in the month of August between 70 and 80 refugees received their residence permit and were assigned a home here. This is the same amount that was granted a new home in the first 6 months of 2014.

inburgeringscursusThis rise in numbers is partially because there are more people arriving and partially because the asylum process has been streamlined so that more requests can be evaluated in a smaller amount of time. Each person that receives a residence permit must do a so called “inburgerings cursus” which boils down to a course that helps someone become a Dutch citizen. This involves a language course as well as lessons about our culture and customs. At the end of this course, every person must take (and pass) an exam.

Each new resident must attend language classes once a week and is assigned a language coach to practice with for about an hour a week on top of that. A language coach is always a volunteer that does this beside their regular job. It is therefore most common for a language coach to be assigned just one person. You can imagine that if in one month there are more than seventy new people starting their citizenship education, there is a great need for more language coaches.

During the meeting I went to last week there were about 15 new candidates. Their motives varied from wanting to do something practical to compensate for their very theoretical study at the university, to expanding their CV with something different. Some had already worked in schools and wished to find a new challenge in the education of foreigners. Others were just lonely and wished to get back in touch with society and remember what it felt like to be needed (this last part is my own interpretation).

I was quite surprised that besides me there was only one other person that said they were sick of watching the news and feeling helpless. I don’t say this to humblebrag, I promise. I have a genuine feeling of urgency to do something but with no clue about where to start. I for one am sick of feeling so powerless. Also it is just starting to feel wrong to voice my opinion about something that I only know about through the colored stories of the media. It’s time to see it for myself and to know that no matter what side I choose I will be able to look myself in the eye at the end of it.

refugee-word-cloud

But I must admit I do feel torn. Just the other day I started deleting “friends” from Facebook that have voiced opinions that I find discriminatory or unbalanced, to say the least. I am sure there are still some rotten apples in my list as not everyone voices their opinions on the web. One of the people I deleted is a girl I used to babysit. She is in her twenties now and has recently gotten married. She posted a video of refugees showing someone around the camp they were staying in, pleading for better conditions. She commented something along the lines of: “What did you expect, a five star hotel? If you don’t like it, go back home, you ungrateful a**holes!”. The fact that these people’s home may very well be reduced to rubble, went unnoticed to her.

I deleted her immediately, especially after I noticed she had re-posted it from a page that sympathizes with our very own, well known and homegrown right hand populist; Geert Wilders. It did stick with me for a while though… Especially since I did kind of agree with her… These worked up men were pointing at everything that was supposedly wrong with their conditions and showing the camera how muddy it was and how few toilets there were but in reality, it wasn’t all that bad… Sure, the weather was shitty, but who can you blame for that? It was a temporary solution for an overwhelming situation that was absolutely better than nothing. Nobody was starving neither from hunger nor cold. I only dared admit this to myself after I had deleted her from my account.

[The video in question, which I had embedded in this post on right this spot is no longer online, but since I believe we’ve all seen and heard about these type of situations I decided not to replace it. | 29-08-2016]

These men… All men… So so agitated. And for what? I hate mobs like this. They scare me. Men stirring each other up in this aimless frenzy. Running around, pumping adrenaline through their veins and some crazy idea that they will get their way if they just push hard enough. They seek out confrontation hoping it will help their plight, if only they manage to show the world something shocking. It sickens me and I find it very difficult to find sympathy for these people. I know they do not represent the majority, but it is inevitable that some problems will arise with these new citizens. And what if they’re not satisfied with what we have to offer? How much are we willing to give in to accommodate them?

Anyhow, I am now on the list of volunteers of the local refugeework organisation. I will be attending some classes of my own before I get assigned a new resident of my town, most probably from Syria and help him or her in the next step of their long journey to become a European citizen. I can’t wait to find out more and report about my experiences both to myself as to you.