Posts Tagged reflections

The Joys of Immigration, third-world debt and other happy Prime Time moments…

Dear Immigration Person,

I would also like to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks at granting me access into your wonderful country. This process has allowed me the opportunity to learn a great deal about myself, including a number of very important points:

a)    It has always been my dream to send someone – anyone – a scanned copy of my passport. Every single page you say? Of course! That’s why I decided to get what is commonly known as a MAXI-passport, with twice the number of scannable pages for such a special, once-in-a-lifetime-occasion! Around 80 in total! Here we go!!!! My fingers are now a darker shade than the rest of my body due to the excessive scanner radiation, but no matter, I’m sure they’ll grow back eventually.

b)    Thank you for allowing me to prove that my partner and I have not been faking our relationship for the past five years. While the God of Facebook (and no small amount of drunken photos) can prove this, nothing could please me more than providing multiple examples of how I can condense my entire relationship into a single piece of paper to be scanned, filed, stamped and sorted in some dingy filing cabinet, never to be seen again.

c)    I have learned to deal with artery-slicing paper cuts due to the enormous amounts of paper required to produce a single application (note: this needs to be treated with disinfectant and should not be allowed to come into contact with cat faeces). I am also extremely happy to know that I contributed to razing an entire African forest to the ground. My commitment to third-world-destroying consumerism continues to thrive in this knowledge!

Of course, none of this can compare to my scintillating Dutch experience of moving to another country as a couple, and having the immigration services demand a certificate that proved that I was NOT married. And silly me thought it would be the other way around.

So, thank you again, my kind and mysterious immigration friend. We never met, but I will hold your memory deep within my heart. May your ink-stained fingers forever float above visa applications, shining the light of acceptance with your magic “APPROVED” stamp.

Your humble subject

The Immigrant

 

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Rotterdam: The Cinderella Story

Rotterdam. It’s a city of contrast. And coffee shops. The real kind, not the fake kind….

Bombed to hell and back by the Germans during World War II, its already flat surface took on a new look of demolition and turmoil, with a large majority of the city being destroyed in the process. Referred to as the Rotterdam Blitz, which makes it sound more like a winter sale than a war-time bombardment, much of the inner city was wiped out entirely as the Germans effectively tore apart the Dutch resistance.

Going forward – the war won, the dictator dethroned, the Dutch government turned to rebuilding the remains of the city in the 1950s and 1960s. Buildings were approved, houses were churned out en-mass; with the main focus on rebuilding rather than re-renovating. This has given the city a rather characteristic style – which I have on my bad days referred to as ‘rather hideous’, or ‘the ugly step-sister of Amsterdam’.

One should not journey to Rotterdam expecting ancient cathedrals. To sum it up for you, and no doubt shorten your journey, I can tell you that we have one. Uno. Een. And somehow the cathedral thinks that it’s a tree and needs to lean towards the sun (which generally lurks on the horizon like a bad smell, afraid to enter the room). You will also be confronted by rather interesting works of art scattered around the city like brightly coloured M&Ms. Much of the work is something that probably should have stayed in the gallery, but somehow managed to break out and invade the streets. One often wonders if the artist was on Acid when he came up with the concept, or the city approver was smoking what was left of the approval certificate. Either way, these works of art make journeying through the city an interesting excursion (please see Buttplug Santa). Please remember to close your mouth as you saunter down the alleyways, as staring is something that the Dutch do much better than you ever will (yes, my Dutch friends, you know what I am talking about).

The Crooked Church and a Hello-Kitty Statue

If one takes a walking tour, it would be quite easy to label the city as the ugly duckling upon a first glance. And on a bad day, shitting down with rain and nearly being killed by speeding bicycles, I would tend to agree with them. If we are judging by surface appearance, Rotterdam would probably be the last one picked for the soccer team. She would be the sympathy vote on American Idol; the slightly chubby girl who sings rather well, but would need some photoshop-assistance to sell any CDs. Preferably with lots of back-lighting and soft focus lenses.

But just as you would with a rather ugly family member – with time, you soon learn to forget the flaws and start appreciating the form and substance behind it. There is a myriad of sights and sounds to discover within the network of streets and alleyways, amidst the smoky haze of coffee shops.

And sometimes, just sometimes, our dear Cinderella gives us a glimpse of beauty beneath the ashes…

View from the Euromast (on a good day)

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Octogenarians, Girls-who-are-not-students and a racist mutt called Dawie

This week has been a rather interesting one – and despite some of my best attempts at jotting something humorous down (read: absolutely none), I have been a bit distracted with the imminent move to Denmark and therefore starting this blog has slipped down the list. Unforgivably so.

However, in my defence, this week has been full to the brim of exciting Dutch madness. The kind that I have grown strangely used to – and perhaps even a little fond of (admittedly after a glass of wine and the prescription medications have kicked in).

I have a dear old (that goes without saying) octogenarian living below me. Along with her life-long companion – Dawie, the racist pug who loves white people (and does not like chocolate) – our octogenarian friend spends most of her time doing three things:

a) Getting drunk at the local corner restaurant. Life is a big-piss up apparently and should be drowned in a cheap glass of wine at every opportunity you get.

b) Convincing people that she is a naturally gifted magnetic healer. Note: numerous attempts at having her perform her ‘skills’ on my octogenarian-like back have been inconclusive and frankly downright embarrassing (a.k.a a fat waste of my precious time).

c) Appearing at my front doorstep for no apparent reason, where she allows Dawie, the wonderfully curious mutt that he is, to charge into my apartment and terrorize my two Burmese. What the woman does not realise is that the one cat could probably make mince-meat out of her beloved companion, yet repeated attempts to warn her in broken Dutch fail to strike a neuron. Stay tuned for more exciting updates on mauled dogs. And a picture if I get lucky. It’s almost worth the insurance claim..

My partner in crime made the deliberate (and rather stupid move) of giving her the number for our land-line. This probably falls on the list of “Top Stupid Things to Do”, just below “Pressing that Red Button that specifically asks you not to press it” and just above “Opening that Gay Club next to a Mosque and handing out promo-flyers during prayer-time”.  So, with our number set on speed-dial, our octogenarian friend makes good use of her free minutes, calling when the fancy suits her – from early in the morning to late at night. At this point, I have to cut in and point out that even my beloved mother avoids calling me after 11. This old woman has no compunction, or her internal clock and common sense all seem to be pointing in the wrong direction.

What makes this week’s drama all the more interesting is that – as luck would have it – the washing machine decides to pack in and do a rain-dance above the old woman’s kitchen. Calling the handy-man was a cinch. Dealing with an old woman who wants blow-by-blow accounts of the repairing process when she cannot understand a word of English is not. In fact, I have created a new rule for my personal life because of this drama. Call me more than thirty times in one sitting and I will disconnect my land-line.

You stupid b**ch.

Aside from the broken washing machine and the lack of clean tighty-whiteys, our upstairs neighbours have also signed the secret contract to annoy me and my family. Perhaps we are a little sensitive when it comes to noise levels, as we had problems with the previous tenants – they tended to gallop around the apartment like it was a relay, and the fate of the world depended on them making it around the make-believe circuit. The paper-thin ceilings did not appreciate the Olympic-style event and neither did we. After numerous complaints (yes, I turned into that kind of neighbour – but for valid reasons: listening to someone do the down-and-dirty, complete with animal noises is not the kind of PG evening I wanted to have. Luckily for us, the guy was a sprinter, and not a long-distance runner) – where was I? Ah, yes, after numerous complaints, they finally evacuated the apartment and returned to the trailer park and the shallow end of the gene pool where they rightfully belonged. The landlord – now sick to death of me and mine – decided that it would be a good idea to give the lease to three med students.

As I write this, I wonder if that was a stupid decision, or clearly calculated as payback for my thoughtfully-worded emails to the landlord’s office. Whatever the case, the med students – three lovely little girls with a tendency for high heels and drunken revelry – often mixing the two, as they would their cocktails (i.e. badly) – come with their own brand of annoying, which borders on put-a-drill-in-my-ear-and-rotate kinda irritating.

We hit it off fabulously after they corrected me for referring to them as students. Having already mentioned that they were not fully-trained doctors, and that they were in the process of writing exams, I thought that it would be safe ground to tread on.

Apparently not.

Nevertheless, these delusional little girls seem to have created a limbo existence where you live, drink and party like a student, but have a real job. Before I go on, please could I just say: Where is this company, and where can I apply?!?!

That little bit of awkwardness aside, tonight they are celebrating a birthday party and I am to expect the usual noises of demolitions and high-speed roadworks above my head. I have been invited to the celebration, but I must admit, I would rather drink toilet-water. Discussing Justin Bieber over cheap liquor just isn’t my thing. Tonight, if the fancy takes me, perhaps I shall record the sounds, and then set it as my ring-tone in the office. Annoying my colleagues is one of my few, but exquisite pleasures that I savour like a lolly-pop.

If this post has been a tad on the b**chy side, I must apologise. I have a curious suspicion that I am deliberately attempting to get mad at the collective Dutch nation in some misguided attempt at trying NOT to miss them. Perhaps this is a type of self-adjustment, a preparation for my departure to Denmark. Perhaps this will make leaving a place that I have called home for the last two years easier.

Or perhaps I am just full of sh*t.

We shall see, my pretties.

 

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Last Few Months in Holland

Well, it has been almost two years since we moved from South Africa to Holland (aka The Netherlands) in a quest to discover our Dutch roots, test our reserves and our patience, and uncover the mystery surrounding cross cultural migration. This blog will be an attempt to document this – our last few weeks in the land of the Dutch, and our over-the-seas trek to the land of the Danes – Denmark.

Bring on the bad weather!

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