Archives

More Taipei

13 May 2015

After the art fair we had planned a 2 weeks trip through Taiwan, but before we leaving to the south by train, we stayed another few days in Taipei city.
We moved to another hotel room, experienced the public transport, bought stuff in a huge mall specialized in electronics and got trapped by interviewing students.

Saving insects

12 December 2014

I just read most vloggers are between 12 and 22 years old …
Oh boy, where do I find my target group? 😀
About saving insects, playing with the cat, doing the groceries, going to the dentist and painting.

Vlogging

24 November 2014

For a while I was not sure about publishing my vlogs, because of ‘too boring’. In the first place they were intended just for family. It’s not more than a peek into my daily life in New Zealand.
My first vlogs were edited quite clumsy with too much and too long shots. In the first minutes I even made the classic mistake of keeping my smartphone upwards.
Sorry for that. It will get better.

The dogs of Bloemfontein

25 November 2013 (South Africa)
eastern-cape, the dogs of bloemfontein
The next morning sun, sun and sun all over! Yes, of course; a clear blue sky on the day we had planned to be locked up in the car again, driving back to the south.
It would be nice to find an ATM for some fresh cash and a good cup of coffee. Therefore we headed to the fairly large town called Rustenburg. But once arrived, it’s such a confusing mess again. Guddamn, why so much garbage on the streets?

Never mind; we still had some cookies in our food box. And a bottle of water.
The rest of the day we are driving through a boring, dry, but sunny landscape. And we got seriously cursed by a local guy, because we braked for a crossing cow … Huh? Isn’t that right to do? I’m afraid if we had hit the cow, we were killed by the family, because not seldom some head of cattle are their only possession.

If we stepped out of the car after arriving in Bloemfontein (at first glance, a breath of fresh air in terms of civilization) I felt the first raindrops on my head. At the horizon huge black cauliflowers with lightning, were quickly rolling in … We even didn’t roll our eyes anymore.
By phone we ordered a room in a luxurious neighborhood, hoping the accommodation was a bit luxurious too. We asked in advance if it was possible to cook in the room. Yes, it was.
The room appeared to be 3 x 4 meters, stuffed with 2 single beds, a wardrobe and a ‘kitchen unit’. There was no room left for a suitcase. Cooking facilities meant a mini microwave and a kettle. That’s it. When we asked if that was all there was … somebody was sent out to grab a dusty hot plate and 2 pans from the attic of the main house …
Cooking is very challenging without cutlery and no hot water, but we didn’t dare continuing to whine.

Before cooking we wanted to stretch our legs and went for a walk in these luxury streets. The upscale neighborhoods are not built for pedestrians. It is intended that the citizens in this part of town are driving from their garage behind the electric gates right to another high guarded area. Probably their feet hardly touch public grounds. So, there are no sidewalks. Our walk resulted in passing 70 barbed wired electric fences and at least we turned on 35 watchdogs who started furiously barking to us. Nobody here is walking just for fun. Walking means poverty and walking through rich neighbourhoods is considered as ‘bad intentions’. That’s of course not exactly the conclusion of the barking dogs, but they are conditioned to their bosses ideas, isn’t it?
As a foreigner I don’t want to have an opinion about this, but  in a strange way these neighbourhoods gave me the feeling of an upside down open air jail. But it’s inspiring anyway …




Escaping to Sun City

24 November 2013 (South-Africa)

We went to Sun City!
Do you remember this record?
From 1985. Five years before the apartheid was abolished. I hardly can believe it’s all so recent. Although … the country’s wound is still far from healed.
Sun city originated in the time of apartheid as a kind of refuge for whites. A cross between Disney and Las Vegas (a bit smaller though), located in a national park. It is 2.5 hours drive up north of Johannesburg.

Escaping to Sun CityThe route was varied, the weather was beautiful and our food box was full.
When we passed a nice lake, it seemed a good idea to do our banana-stop on the shore. After a long search for an acces to the lake (everything was fenced and private property), we found a spot. Well … we found a spot to park the car. Behind a thick barbed wire we had view on the lake.

At 1:00 PM we arrived at Sun City. And the sun was happily burning the whole day. It was our 10th day traveling through South-Africa and 9 of them has been grey and rainy. Our ‘reservoir of goodwill’ was limited, but this bright day helped a lot.
We parked under a tree, hoping that would keep the car a little cool. We took our bathing suits. Every 15 minutes, visitors were transported by train to the entertainment park. Looks like a smooth business.
The visitors got released in a fake cave and first we had to work ourselves through a tunnel filled with loud music, disco lights, amusement arcades and souvenir shops. Yes, ‘work through’ because there were so many people in bathing suits coming from the opposite direction.
When we saw daylight at the other end of the tunnel … I suddenly understood the reason of all the bustle. The sky was almost black as ink. A huge thunderstorm was appeared in just minutes! It started to rain like hell.

At 3:30 PM we were back at the car. The only thing we had done, was waiting for the visitors-train to the parking area, together with hundreds of other wet people.
Plan B for this day was to visit the national park … Watching animals at least was an ‘activity’ to do IN the car.
Well, we’ve seen a couple of wet animals. I didn’t record them, because as soon as I opened my window the pouring rain hit right on my camera. And through the closed window I only could record a haze of water.

At 5 AM we had ‘spilled’ enough time to check in for a place to sleep. The only available accommodation was a luxury safari tent or an expensive 8-person chalet. Uhhhh … the safari tent had no cooking facilities, no wi-fi and no water. There was electricity, but under these current weather conditions the power failed every 5 minutes.
We didn’t want to spent too much time in the almost dark tent, so we decided to have a long, slow and extensive dinner in the restaurant. But of course the restaurant had no electricity too … but it has to be said; they made the best out of it. The tables were lit with candles and not all the dishes on the menu were available, but it was still quite tasty.

On the video you’ll see sunny weather. But this was filmed the next morning.

The easy part of Johannesburg

23 November 2013 (South-Africa)

New day, new chances.
Initially I wanted to leave Johannesburg immediately, but Frank did some research on the Internet for things that could bring some salvation.

We started with an organic market 18 kilometers to the north. We set our expectations at zero. We expected some bed sheets on a garbage yard where a few half cabbages are offered. But, oooh it was totally different. An exciting eco-hippie market. And yes indeed, it was a ‘white people happening’ in a white people neighborhood.
I want to emphasize I’m not looking down on the opposite side of South-Africa, but the last couple of days we had seen so much of it … that I couldn’t deny I was longing for some easy entertainment.

There were 60 or 70 stalls loaded with fashionable fun stuff and fine clean foods without the sellers are breathing down in your purse. Even the stalls themselves were nice. Covered with cane for shade and built in cute winding alleys as if you were walking through a small village. And everywhere seats, tables and plants.
I saw so many delicious things that we had a lunch at 12 AM and again at 1 PM. I truly realised I’m very fortunated traveling in this country, where it is not unusual for a black woman to walk 90 minutes to her job (and 90 minutes back) as domestic worker for 3 hours a day (without her white mistress is even aware of it).

In the late afternoon again there was a botanical garden on our to-do list. I still wasn’t fully recovered from the previous botanical-no-garden, but today it was Frank’s turn to be the boss, so I had to go.
It was a kind of very large, hilly picnic-park where all the whites walking their fluffy perfumed dogs.
So, at the end of the day I was charged enough for the rest of our trip.

Arrived in Johannesburg

22 November 2013 (South-Africa)

Ermmm …
Yeah …
Well …
Johannesburg …
I even don’t know where to start …
What a terrible city.
I don’t want to go too much into details, because if I’m extensively going to describe this city, I ruin the possibility to smoothly forget. It’s like when you make a cheat sheet for school; at the time you are done to scribble the answers in tiny characters, everything is already hammered in your memory.
But okay, a few keywords about Jo’burg; nasty, ugly, unfriendly dumpy, tatty.

But the weather was beautiful 🙂

I knew Cape Town and Johannesburg would be different. But Amsterdam and Rotterdam are different too. Melbourne and Sydney as well. Here and there we had read that Johannesburg had risen from his bad nineties. I had expected Johannesburg was now perhaps 80% of what Cape Town was …
But I did not expect what we got to see. As soon as I’m home again, I will cut Johannesburg out of my map. I’m really sorry Jo’guys, it is even less than 5% of Cape Town!

We left at 10 AM and walked downtown. The locals advised us to take a cab, but we already have been sat in the car for so many days. And the experience is more intense by walking.
On the Internet we read that a specific neighbourhood was transformed into an emerging “creative incubator”. With all kind of new and out-of-the-box stuff. Ooow that would be nice. Just something for us! Let’s go and show us!

Arrived in JohannesburgThe route we had to walk to this neighbourhood, exactly would cross the possible nice points in the city. Well, the best nice points were an endless road with run-down buildings where five million citizens tried to sell hair extentions, second-hand bananas and scourer per meter. Or a complete neighborhood with scrap yards on the pavement (yes, in the center) where you had to wade through a wide variety of suspicious fluids. There was really nowhere a park, a square or even a bench to sit down for a couple of minutes without feeling like a sitting duck. And you already could guess … for that so-called creative hub we arrived about 40 years too early. There was a juice bar, a print store and some uninviting workshops.

Of course it is possible we just crossed the wrong areas, but if you do a kind of continuously march at a brisk pace for 4.5 hours, you have seen quite a large area.
Somewhat dismayed and quite exhausted we returned by taxi to our B&B, curling up in bed, together with the B&B cat, waiting until it was time to cook our dinner … regretting the fact we had booked for 3 days.

Searching for the botanical gardens

21 November 2013 (South-Africa)

Around lunchtime Google told us we were nearby public botanical gardens. A new chance to eat our banana outside the car???
We followed the signs. We followed the signs … and followed the signs. After a good 20 minutes we began to worry, because it was a long and very muddy path apparently going to nowhere. But … “Oh look; there is appearing a giant fence and port. With a cashier again. Well, that must be quite a garden, with so many trumpet blare. We instantly got high expectations. Although there were no other visitors.

A 10 minutes drive after passing the entrance, we began to worry again. The road remains exactly the same as before that impressive gate and the scenery around us was really nothing special. An occasionally dried bush or a heap of scrap metal. Just like we already have seen so much in recent days.
After another 10 minutes drive, in a state of resignation, we stopped right on the muddy path to eat our banana. Inside the car. I think that the gate itself was the main attraction. I made a short and messy video, but you get the idea.
A little later the lonely cashier happily waved us a good day.

The Eastern Cape of South-Africa

eastern-cape19 November 2013 (South-Africa)

We were in South Africa again. My father lives on the lower edge of the country called ‘the Garden route’. Halfway our stay Frank and I decided to make a trip via the East Cape to Johannesburg.
We tried to stay off the highway, to see more of the country. For example a nice viewpoint on the Bloukrans river mouth …
10 Minutes after we had taken the road that recommended viewpoint, we suddenly found ourselves in a line for a gate with a counter.
What? A ticket for just a river mouth?
Hmmm, we only wanted to eat our banana on a simple bench, or so. Not a tourist attraction.
Well, these local people need to make some money too, so … okay. What should it be? Maybe a few dollars for parking?
Ah wait, there is a list of prices … 3 dollars for South Africans and … huh? … 15 dollars for foreigners?
Yeah, fat dick! Just to just to eat our banana off the road, and stretching our legs for a moment?!

We drove about 6 hours a day. Without stopping. No, that’s not really what we wanted, but there are simply no resting areas. Cafes, or just a scruffy coffee shop along the road don’t exist here. At least not in the south-east.
Back in the days the roads were built by the white South-African farmers, but they probably have forgotten to lay along footpaths. Most black South-Africans don’t have a car, but like everyone else, sometimes they need to go to another township or neighbourhood. So they use the motorway as footpath. And there are Very Many pedestrians! Sometimes they also have some cattle, but no land. Therefore they take their cattle to graze on the shoulders of the road. These animals can easily wander on the roads. And they continually do.

Massively hanging out and broadly sitting along the motorway apparently seems to be a regional daily activity of the locals. It is not really appealing to stop your car between them and peacefully eat your lunch.
The amount of waste along the roads is really baffling. In some parts it seems like every 10 meters a complete garbage bag is emptied on the side of the road. The pieces of waste are flapping between the laundry that is also hanging on the same fences.

To supply our mobile food box we bought a bunch of bananas from a poor old lady. She was sitting on the pavement in front of a hardware store. Where -by the way- everyone who entered the door first is extensively searched for guns and knifes by the owner. The old lady placed an upside down plastic crate serving as a counter. Besides a few bunches of bananas there are also set out 2 packs of cigarettes. You can buy them per cigarette. The price of 10 bananas is 1 Rand (that is 0.20 US dollar). We almost felt ashamed to even walk around here. We paid 5 Rand for the bananas and became blessed from head to toe. Oh boy …

The still enormous gap between black and white is immense and nonstop felt. Later on, this experience and the pictures below will be translated in a painting and story called ‘the Free One’.

The East Cape of South-Africa The Eastern Cape of South-Africa

Here is another moment the seeds of that painting were sprouting.




A cutting fight in Capetown

6 December 2012 (South Africa)

After Namibia we were in Capetown for a couple of days. The kind of souvenirs I’m always after, are fabrics. I love making clothes and I already do have a huge pile of fabrics in stock, but I can’t pass a fabric store without taking a quick look.

In a fabric store in Capetown I fought a psychological battle with an unsympathetic Indian woman. Let’s constrict these two adjectives and call her Undy.
a cutting fight in Capetown
I found 3 rolls of perfectly matching fabrics and laid them side by side in the rack to have a proper and thorough deliberation with me and myself.
Next to me Undy had her eye on the same kind of fabric, but in different colors than my rolls. But suddenly … she grabbed one of ‘my’ rolls. Of course it was not mine yet. I had not put my hand on it, so … yeah … how do you deal in such a case?

I grabbed my 2 other rolls and followed her to the cutting table. She put her rolls down at the cutting lady and told her she had to do some more flipping through at the bridal department.
The cutting lady started to measure the rolls of Undy in its total! Was she planning to buy my complete pink roll? The full 30 meters? Without leaving to 2 meters for me?
Well Damn! One minute earlier she clearly had seen that I was considering to buy it too!
From pure dudgeon I felt my ears pulling backwards and my whiskers pulling forwards.
Undy’s cutting lady shouted to another cutting lady to help me in between, because she herself would be busy for a while.

So, when she looked the other way, in a split second I pulled the pink roll out of her pile and held it vertically beside my body on my walk to the next cutting lady. I was standing there making myself as broad as possible and intensively watched the bridal department. When my whiskers are pulled forward I’m hardly able to talk normally. Other people probably firmly would say: “Hey lady, I was interested in that roll too, you know!” But then … there is always a risk that I would lose. Irrespectively how dishonest that would be, but I’m not a local. Who know all those women are knowing each other. Maybe Undy is a ‘high roller’.
So to prevent I would lose, I felt forced to be Sneaky & Sly. After all Undy had begun the fight! She played Blunt & Rude!

I slide the pink roll forward a bit and at the same moment my cutting lady did the first cut, the cutting lady of Undy suddenly stood in front of me and asks rather sternly: “Where did you get this roll?”
As far as my evil whiskers allowed me, I put my dumbest smile and pointed to my 2 other rolls. “Aren’t they adorable all together? I want 2 meters of every roll.”
“Yes! But! Where! Did! You! Got! It?! “she asks now with larges spaces. “From here,” I gestured to the rest of the store.
Did you take that roll from my table ?! she asks sharply. “Yeah,” I said in a tone as if it was a completely logical act. She looks past me and asked me: “And what now?”
In the mean time in the corner of my eye I saw my 2 meters were neatly folded on my stack, so I said: “I don’t know … now it’s yours … I think?”
She madly frowned and took the roll in silence.

Pfffff … I felt my whiskers relaxing.

The face of Taipei city

2 April 2012 (Taiwan)

Although in the end my visit to Taiwan, was absolutely one of the milestones in my life, the architecture of Taipei was not attractive to me straight away. It took me a couple of days to force my way into the somewhat impervious face of the city. The buildings are a bit gloomy and dark, without much windows. The most used form of decoration is covering a building from top to bottom under a pancake of small tiles. And the cloudy weather didn’t help either.
I have been in Singapore and Hong Kong, but I can’t remember I got the same feeling of oddness as in Taipei. For me it was a atmosphere of a futuristic scene build in the fifties. It was not a turn off, but more a kind of intriguing. A mix of spooky and fairy. Certainly in the more silent neighbourhoods.

Taipei  

And then sometimes, in the middle of a spooky alley with never a ray of sunlight, right beside the assembly point of trash bins, I saw an extremely colourful, glittery and warm shelter with a mini-temple. Or a tiny, but loudly sparkling little candy shop hidden in an almost black dirty street full of the exhausts of the airco’s.

 

Of course there also were the new modern blocks and a shiny business centre, that certainly had a more lighter and opener atmosphere. There you find the outdoor cafés, the chain shops and the markets, but a lot of the authentic life of the Taiwanese people occurs a bit more ‘behind the scene’ as we European people are used to. But at the other hand; I am sure that is only on the first sight. The sight of the ignorant foreigner who don’t know his way. The Taiwanese people themselves are adorable!
Taiwan is certainly a land I want to know better. This time I’ve only seen Taipei city, but there is so much more I want to experience. And I will.

Here is a kind of a ‘sound greeting card’. Maybe you can imagine the view was an inspiration for my painting called ‘The persistent one’.

From Brisbane to Sydney

28 Februari 2012 (Australia)

Together with my parents in law Frank and I have been in Australia for 2 weeks. After staying for a couple of days in Brisbane we very slowly travelled down to Sydney. Frank and I slept in the campervan and the parents slept in one of those cute cabins or little bungalows on the camping-sites along the way. I’m feeling so happy in this country.
Every time I visit a big city (especially in Australia) it seems I’m allowed to take a deep breath after swimming underwater for too long.

I wondered what kind of good deeds the citizens have done in their previous lives in order to be born in Australia. Then I wondered what bad I have done in my previous life that I am NOT born here*. But suddenly I understood! Of course I have done so much good in my present life, I do not have to wait until a next life. I’m allowed to jump the queue! In this life yet.
New Zealand won’t be our final resting place.

The strong feeling what came to me exactly when this photo was taken in Newcastle, will become clear within 5 years …

Brisbane Sydney

* But know I know … I certainly realize that being born in the Netherlands, is unbeatable privileged too.
I was just acting (acting is my comfort zone).
And you knew that.




A foot massage in Singapore

5 August 2011 (Singapore)

On our way back from the Netherlands we booked a stop-over in Singapore for 1 day. We counted on beating the jet lag easily, but we were more tired than we had expected. Uninspiredly we dragged ourselves through the city. We were so longing to a quick nap, but we even couldn’t find the tiniest piece of public lawn to lay on. And please no, not another drink or not again a lunch on a bar stool. Better keep on moving. Swim to avoid drowning.
“Shall we go to Chinatown? To that crazy mall? Four weeks ago I saw a booth with beautiful beads. Maybe we can find it again”.
Walking the same route as we did earlier we didn’t find the beads, but we came along many stalls with Chinese foot masseurs.
“Shall we? Do you want to go in this time?”
We were somewhat hesitate, but the simple fact that we saw 8 very comfortable reclining chairs … $ 15 for a 30-minute foot reflexology made us stop. I didn’t care what they plan to do with my feet, I just wanted to lie down there. I was exhausted and I would fall asleep anyway.

Frank was the first to fill in a kind of medical check list. In the meantime, the boss started phoning like crazy. It looked like he was calling his complete family to come along and laugh at those foreigners.
Five seats away an Australian girl was terrible moaning and shocking with her body. She saw me watching her in horror. “If he squeezes there, I feel it here,” she said. “AAAUUUWWW !!!” she screamed again. “But it’s a good hurt, you know!” She said quickly, as she saw my frozen eyes.
Yes, my fat ass, I thought. Good pain … ha! That’s probably the same as black money. Spending black money works exactly the same as spending white money.
She again concentrated and her face contorted beyond.

Suddenly I didn’t want the massage.
But Frank was too late for a change of mind. His checklist was filled in already.

From the moment they had put us in the 2 chairs close to the window, more and more people came in. See! That must be the boss’ family and friends. Curious to see those giant white feet up close! Even a blind man entered the room!
This man puts his stick at the door and the boss quickly led him to Frank’s seat. He got a jar of cream pressed into his hands and without any introduction he began to feel Frank’s feet.

When he was doing his job he pulls all strange faces and moves his mouth in silence … like he was in an inner dialogue with the assigned feet.
On a poster on the wall I could descry where the internal body parts are connected in the feet. I saw an icon of the brains and the heart, all indicated by colours. Now I finally know where men’s willies are located!

Because I had forgotten to turn off the beep that is heard when I turn on my camera, I didn’t dare to take pictures. The blind man looks a bit … how shall I say it … angrily. Or severe. He scared me. Maybe because I continually whispered to Frank whether it hurts. Frank shook his head, but I know -because I didn’t join in to be screwed- he now never will answer me honestly anymore about this subject. He probably prefers to bite off his own foot, instead of showing me any emotion.
I am also afraid that -when the blind man would hear the beep- he viciously would pinch Frank. Or that he would shift his internal parts and would cause something bad.
At that moment I’m even more determined I really don’t want this. Don’t touch my internal body parts.
The boss gestures ‘to do me for free’.
“No”.

Singapore, foot massage

We even thought to do a sneaky nap hidden under the elephant, but the parking and especially the elephant was guarded.




A visit to the Netherlands

4 August 2011 (the Netherlands)

We were in the Netherlands for a month to visit our family. I was asked if I have seen changes compared with 6 years ago.
Most of all there were some differences that we had forgotten. For example, as soon as we left the airport, I immediately saw the Dutch are much slimmer. And the children on their little supersonic bicycles were all fully decorated with the latest gadgets and they were fashionably dressed like miniature-adults (and matching attitude 😉 )

Recently I read in one of the Dutch magazines (I still read them) that in the Netherlands ‘the prosperity is gushing out of the dormer windows’. In real … that is true. And it’s notable. I saw an interview on tv about Dutch families who supposedly are in financial trouble. In the background I saw beautiful living rooms, top class furniture, wooden floors, modern decorations. Everything of good quality and looking in mint condition. I can’t take that serious. That is really a difference with here.
Yes, for a few days I was jealous of all that wealth and the unlimited choice. Not to say New Zealand is a poor country. I know it’s not Ethiopia. And we ourselves aren’t poor too. But the image around us though, is certainly looking a bit … eh … well … let’s not equivocate; a bit shabby.
However, after a few days I knew it again. Because don’t forget … if you always have to live in such a nasty climate, locked inside your house, probably you desperately need some extra fun/luxury in return.
I prefered the good weather.

Another thing I liked of being back was; Dutchies hardly do courtesy talks. In daily life and in business they can be bluntly honest to each other without affecting their relationship. They are going right to the point. For foreigners they may sound rude, but Dutchies skipping the courtesy talks feels like saving time for both.

A sound that struck me was the cooing of doves. Awww, I missed that. And the far sounds of church bells a couple of times a day. I totally had tuned that out when I lived in the Netherlands, but now I realised I hadn’t heard them for years!
But the finest sound actually, was a certain lack of sound … that eternal voice in the shops, “Can I help you?”
For me it was so liberating that in every Dutch shop (no matter how posh) you can walk in without the shop assistants jump right on your neck.
Beside in the Netherlands there is so much beauty for sale, the disinterest of the staff (or so you want; the skipping of the courtesy) made shopping a great pleasure. When I’m thinking about entering a shop in New Zealand, quite often the saleswoman already greedy tries to make eye-contact, while I am still outside! I can’t handle that and won’t come in then. I hate it and I feel forced. If I need help I know where she is. Everybody knows.
Although I like that New Zealanders always greeting each other on the street (Dutchies ignore strangers), that shop-thing must ne a Dutch habit I can’t get rid of. For Dutch people maybe shops are more a kind of ‘public area’. And for New Zealand people a shop is owned by someone who takes care for the visitors. Does that make sense?




The owner in the background is completely ignoring me and is reading his paper. Thumbs up.

netherlands

City trip to Melbourne

4 February 2011 (Australia)

After

Before

After 3,5 years of financial drought and lack of time (because of the renovation of our house) we finally could treat ourselves to a city trip to Melbourne. I want to tell you why I so enormously enjoyed it!

For me personally it felt like a kind of landslide to understand the Australian accent 100 times easier than the New Zealand accent. I know; probably my language struggle begins to be a pretty boring topic for you, and for me it’s quite annoying that I hardly can explain why I find language & personality are so tightly connected to each other.

But … apart from the certainty that there are way more serious problems in the world (really, I know, haha) the fact is that I have to cope this struggle and in Australia I experienced an almost physical relief because the bustle around me was no dense cloud of abstract sounds anymore. Without significant concentration I could pick up complete sentences! For example; listening to the people gossiping about their aunty on the seats behind me in the lunchroom … oh, the joy! Or the teenage girls in the tram discussing how they would approach their prey that night. It made me serenely smiling. It were fragments of lives that had nothing to do with my life, but suddenly now I was part of the same space, instead of being an almost deaf and dumb person in a separate bubble.

What also made me so happy was that people understood ME TOO!!! Usually without I needed to repeat my words 3 times! Of pure happiness I asked things on my own initiative! Just for fun! Without those questions were urgently needed! No deep conversations though, but you have to start in baby steps, isn’t it?
In New Zealand, when I asked for an extra sugar packet … without exception they looked at me like I’m hysterically yelling at them. Even if I pointed to the empty pot of sugar packets at the same time. Sometimes I almost choked of frustration!
Then what a relief to simply ask in the fitting room: “Can you bring me a larger size?” and the shop assistant kindly nodded and DOING it right away!!! Oh … those little things made me so happy last week.

I always have felt if I was the first person in the world by asking such an idiotic thing like a larger size, or a sugar packet, while requesting these questions in a completely logical situation. After all, I didn’t ask for a sugar packet just after a fire has broken out. And I didn’t ask for a larger size, just when I was lying down to undergo a gynecological examination.
Anyhoo … if you often experience that feeling of despair, then after a while it will affect your behavior. And if your behaviour is changing, it slowly infects your personality.

If I concentrate I can follow the news on tv in New Zealand. But a constant high focus is too much. I only can muster for things that interest me in a certain level.
I don’t know why other people pick it up so much faster. Probably I need more practice. To practice you need to talk to strangers. Ha … and THAT is quite unthinkable for an introvert!
But it remains a curious fact that I have much less trouble with the Australian dialect. Four years ago, I already had noticed this during our visit to Brisbane.

The above story is not the reason for our desire to move to Australia in the future. We miss the Big City. That doesn’t mean we made the wrong choice 5 years ago. At that time, New Zealand was the right choice. We wanted to leave the Netherlands, away from the crowds and live in a quiet area. Well … we did. Now we are five years further in life and have learned a few things. Perhaps we have changed too. We broadly moved to the right direction. Now we just need to do some fine tuning. Geographically-wise.

melbourne

Somewhere in Melbourne

Awkward silence

28 November 2010

Our neighbour was waiting before us, in the line at the checkout of the supermarket.

Neighbour: “Hi! How aya?”
I: Goe … ehm, fine.
Neighbour: Do you want a white home?

Me thinking: (Huh? Does she means something of Christmas, or what?)
I: Ehhh ……… (silly grin)
Neighbour: Do you want a white home?

Me thinking: (Ow shit, is she asking about our house painted beige last year?)
I: Pardon? (I learned to pronounced this in New-Zealand dialect like the Dutch word for ‘horses’)
Neighbour: Do you want a white home?

Me thinking: (Oh boy, what the hell is she meaning?)
I: A white home ???
Neighbour: Yes (expectant look)

(Long awkward silence)

Frank: Oooooh, you mean RRRight home?
Neighbour: Hahaha, yes, a rrright home???
Frank: Yes, after the shopping we are going right home.

In the meanwhile, I saw an empty spot at the self-service-checkout and vigorously nodding, pointing and smiling I pushed Frank and myself out of the line.
After we paid and packed our groceries, the neighbour was still waiting for us.

Neighbour: Did you guys walk down to town?
Frank: Nooo, our car is parked here (I made helpful matching gestures to the door … and pretended to hold a steering wheel.
Me thinking: (Omg, she must think I’m a lunatic. Why I’m doing this?)

Neighbour: So, you don’t need a ride home?




awkward silence

Isn’t my homegrown carrot artistic?

Blind fury

10 July 2009

Did you ever explode in anger in public?
Years ago it happened to me in the Body Shop in the Netherlands.

To save the environment they advertised to refill your plastic Body Shop shampoo bottles. I found it a totally logical idea. So stored my empty bottle of coconut shampoo. For weeks it was waiting in the bathroom. After a while there was emptied another bottle and together they moved to the dresser in the hallway.

One day the 2 bottles finally ended up in my shopping bag and I headed to town.
In the meantime the Body Shop had launched a couple of new scents. I said to one of the shop assistants: “Hi, here are my empty bottles. Can you refill them with this and that.”
The girls took the bottles from me and checked the label. She turned off the cap of my bottle and smelled it. “This has been coconut, so it need to be filled with coconut again,” she said.
“No, this time I prefer honey.”  And I tapped my finger on the shelf with the bottles of shampoo of my choice. And in the other bottle I want conditioner with Olive,” I said.
She sniffed the other bottle too and said: “This has been conditioner with peach.”
“Yeah right, but now I want Olive,” I said again. I already digged up my wallet, indicating that I had no time for her hair analysis.
“That’s not possible,” she said.
“What … is … not … possible? I asked. “The advertisement for refills is still presented on your door!”
“We can only refill with the same product,” she said.
“Well, the original product was shampoo and conditioner and now I want shampoo and conditioner again,” I said.
“We can only refill them with exact the same scent” she said with bored tone in her voice.
“Oh … but I want to try Honey and Olive. What’s the problem?”
“The problem is that the ingredients are mixing together ”
“Well, the bottles are thoroughly rinsed with boiling water. There is no drop of coconut and peach left!”
“Yes, but there still may be small particles, which affect the result.”

“EXCUSE ME?”

“Yes, but there still may be small particles, which affect the result.” she said again. I looked at her in full amazement. She probably had learned this at the Body Shop school. But now back to reality please, because I wanted to leave this shit shop, WITH my refilled bottles.
“Yeah I understand that, but that is my own responsibility, okay ?!” To underline I was done with this conversation I already did a step towards the cash register.
“No, we can’t do it.”
“Hey come on! Then do it secretly. I won’t say a word to your boss.” I ran out of patience and I felt that something began to boil in my head.
“No, we can not do it.” she said again and without showing any emotion.

“OH!”

“WELL!”

“YOU KNOW WHAT?!”

At that time I grabbed the two bottles out of her hands … “THEN YOU DON’T SELL ANYTHING ALL!”

On the way to the door it flashed through my mind what to do with those empty bottles. They had cluttered my dresser for months, but I also wanted to help reducing the landfills. “That stupid girl, we are fighting the same battle!” In a new wave of seething rage I turned around and threw the bottle as far as possible into the store.
I thoroughly hoped I hit something breakable.

Blind fury

 

Flooring

12 February 2009

For my new studio, I was looking for a cheap carpet where I freely could spill on paint. At first I thought about vinyl, but at the local carpet store I saw a leftover of dark laminate. Oooow, beautiful …

Frank always wants to have a look in other shops first, but I wanted nothing else anymore than that half priced laminate. The last remnant, be quick! “Come on, buy NOW!”
That night I couldn’t sleep. Dreaming of the laminate that would bring me to the stars in my career. Via kilometers of laminate I sailed from one metropolis to another. Sitting on the laminate the finest paintings came from my hands and I made the best decisions in my life. Everything was good and I was happy. That night.
On Friday I got nervous. Imagine the offer was over, the new season was coming (whatever ‘flooring seasons’ may be). That day my English exercise was to personally ask how long the offer would last. No, not by phone. I rather walked to town.

An old woman with angry eyebrows -the disillusioned mother of the carpet prince- strode up to me and asked what I was doing in her shop.
Trying to break her reluctantly I said in a conspiratorial tone that I was very interested in that dark laminate, but my husband could not make a decision. In addition, I put my own eyebrows as sad as possible. Her face lit up and she said, “What if we half the halved price again” My face also lit up and I said, “Oooh, but that will be a huge help.” Suddenly light-footed she walked to the desk and whispered to her heir. His face then also lit up and he said: “This offer is until Monday, but then you have to take the complete stock of that colour!” It sounded like a punishment, but I didn’t care. I said; “Well, I think I’m going to win this fight with my husband tonight.”
“Bye”, I waved elated.
“Bye”, waved mother and son excited.
And so, on my turn I light-footed walked back home. My first and very own haggle! In English!

And because I had to take it all, Frank is now stuck with dark laminate in his office too.