Wild Young Minds: July 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

An Empty Summer in Amsterdam

All right, finally an update about my trip to Israel and Jordan. To come straight to the point, there is no more trip to Israel and Jordan. But a simple story is never a satisfying story, so let me begin at the beginning. My roommate Paula and I booked a flight to Tel Aviv last February. All was great, we were looking forward to seeing all these holy and outstanding places, but we were also looking forward to travelling, being on the road and away from the standard life in Amsterdam.

As you all know, there's been a conflict between Israel and Palestina, between the Jews and Muslims and between Hamas and the Israelian army  for ages. I'm not going to tell the entire history - that would take me ages, and though I do have lots of free time now, it's a hard story to tell - but definitely read it, it's extremely rough but oh so interesting. Anyway, when we booked our flight everything was relatively quiet. Until June, when 3 Israelian teenagers were killed in the West Bank. The agitation started again.
From the 8th until the 16th of July the Israelian Army started bombing Gaza. Hundreds of people were killed, among who many, many children. Hamas also sends missiles to Tel Aviv and other cities in Israel, but due to Israel's expensive and qualitative defence system, none actually attained it's ends. At this moment, there are still many citizens being killed. The question for us: would it be safe to go? 

According to our close family and friends, it would not. Under none of these circumstances. Why go to a fighting zone? Why look for danger if many people are trying to escape the danger? Why spend your holidays in an underground shelter?

According to people we spoke in Tel Aviv - some girls from college, my nephew's boyfriend, couchsurfing friends - we shouldn't be afraid. The tourist places are pretty safe and besides, media is blowing everything up. The west - so yes, our country too - is focusing mostly on Israel's side, when there are much more people killed in Palestina than in Israel. The defence system will protect us.

According to ourselves, we changed our mind a million times. Before Berlin, I thought we should just go. We are two confident girls, not easily afraid and both interested in the conflict. Me as a future foreign correspondent and Paula as an antropology student who's been to Kenya before and knows what bomb threatenings are. But everyone around me, especially my parents, kept saying that it would be better to stay at home. No one forced me not to go - and no way they could've - but it sucks when you want to do something everyone keeps telling you not to do.
And then came Berlin and the mosquito intecedent. I realized there that all I wanted was a relaxed vacation, to reload before university would begin again and to travel around, meet many people and have a good time. Israel wouldn't be such a country. Traveling would be hard, we would have to be aware every moment of the day and it would cost more stress than a vacation should cost.

But of course there was also the money. We had called the airline company already, and it was clear that we wouldn't get our money back. Only when the government would give a negative travel advice, which they haven't done so far and probably aren't going to either. Why, no one understands. All they say is: be careful if you go there. So 300 euros flew away without us. It gave me a few panic attacks, since a last minute trip to another cool country on my list wasn't an option either. It's high season, so flights are outrageously expensive.

Finally, we both decided to stay. For our safety, yes - though we haven't been afraid we were going to get hurt one single moment - for our rest and also a bit ethically speaking. Both the Israelian Army and Hamas are taking unethical actions. But I have to say, I despise what's going on in Gaza. So many citizens killed, so many children, it has to stop. It's a situation we can't do anything about. Not if we were there, not if we are here.
So honestly, it sounds a bit weird to complain about my empty summer in Amsterdam, since many people are praying for an empty summer in Amsterdam. I, as a bohemian, gypsy and free spirit, have some difficulties with not going away for the summer. But, as everyone keeps telling me, I have nothing to complain about, I've been to Morocco, to Barcelona, to Berlin and to London this year. Besides, I just planned a trip to my friend Jordi in Paris and I can work and save money for San Francisco next year.

What I'm going to do with my free time? My intention: trying a new thing. Trying to relax more, plan less and experience the unexpected. A way of living totally against my nature - except for the last part - but I think it's a wise and sensible - hate the word - resolution. I will keep you informed about the progress. Let me promise you one thing: the next posts will be positive ones. Better than the last two. But hey, isn't that the way life goes? What goes up, must come down and the other way around. Let's pray for Palestina.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Big Bites in Berlin

What an enervating week. Hospitals in Berlin, cancellations of Tel Aviv and a lack of sleep in Rotterdam.
Quite the journaliste type already, non? Just kidding, this previous announcement is slightly dramatically formulated. But all is true, actually.
As for the lack of sleep in Rotterdam, that was just because of the North Sea Jazz festival and the after party of Snarky Puppy in Bird. Not that interesting perhaps, just another 20-year old music lover in action. Not much more to say about it, except that I had a great time at Pharrell, Kelis and Outcast and was blown away by Gregory Porter, Snarky Puppy and Paloma Faith.

But when it comes to Berlin, there's more to tell. I traveled to my favourite city in Europe again, last week. Went to visit some South-American friends of mine, who came up with the idea to go cycling and camping in Germany, and if we could make it, even in Poland. Adventurer as I can be, I said: 'Oh yeah!' Couple of years ago there would've been not a bit of it. Now, I was looking forward to life on the road, where everything luxuruous would've been a relief and we would've accepted it much more.

Things started fine, we cycled 50 km the first day and more than the double the day after. Very well, the second or third day I got stung by some insect. It felt like a mosquito at first, but like a giant horse fly later. At one point, we experienced a gigantic mosquito attack cause we were near the river. What a nightmare. A hundred mosquiotos that sting you the moment you see them. Finally, we escaped them but what is done, cannot be undone. 
That's what I experienced the day after. All was fine again, we had a shower, a coffee and a great lunch of scrambled eggs, avocado, tomatoes, cheese and olives. Then, when we wanted to relax and sit in the sun, I felt my legs irritating. When I had a look, I saw 4 gigantic mosquito bites which seemed to grow bigger and bigger every next moment I checked them. All the tiny bites I had on my legs, seemed to swell up as well. 'Yes, an allergic reaction', one of my friends said. Get out of nature, my instinct said. So I acted responsible, took the first train back to Berlin and rushed to a hospital.

Let me give you one good advice, don't go to a Berlin hospital if you don't need to. Same goes for Holland, come to think of it. But well, Berlin hospitals are a mess. You have to wait half an hour to get a registration, then an hour for the first check of blood pressure etc. By then, I was pretty much in shock cause of the legs, so I decided to change the trip back to Amsterdam to a day earlier. Finally, I was called in and 3 doctors came to see me in half an hour. Meanwhile, all I heard was: 'Oh how terrible!', 'It's a long time ago I've seen something as bad as this'. Great, guys. Thanks. After what seemed ten hours, I got pills and creme and my two legs were taped in to keep me from scratching.
Back in the Berlin house, I died of the itch, but I survived. Despite a negative travel advice, I went home the next day anyway. Ready to spend a weekend with my parents. Sad, but good for my immune system, my rest and my heart ;) Next trip would be Israel, and that's a long story to tell. Be patient, you'll hear it all!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tattoo number Two

They say that once you get one, you'll be destined - or doomed - to get more. Only 1,5 years after my first tattoo, I made the trip back to the tattoo shop and got myself another one. Not after thinking carefully about the design of course. It had to be another word or line, for sure. So it soon became clear that 'On the Road' would be the most logical option.
Why this line? Firstly because it's my favourite book - Kerouac, hero - and secondly, because it's one of the most important things in my life. Now, but probably in ten or twenty years as well.  Travelling, experiences, going somewhere, but never arriving. 'Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life' (On the Road - Jack Kerouac). That's pretty much my life summed up. Work hard, travel far. The third reason - not that I need to give you my reasons, but I assume you'll be slightly interested, since it's always the first thing people ask - is my passion for running. This tattoo is also a sort of reward for the half marathon I ran last May. That's why it's situated on my foot. Close to the road, ready to depart. Start me up :)
Faith turned out well, since one of my best friends Ramai - as big a music freak as myself - had been thinking about getting a second one as well, so we could take one together! We made an appointment with Henk a few weeks ago, who works at House of Tattoos in Amsterdam. Definitely a recommendation. It's a small, cosy shop, the artists take you seriously and give good advice. 
Ramai's tattoo took more than half a hour (he wanted the cell number of Nelson Mandela - 46664 - on his ankle) so I felt slightly anxious. Furthermore, I'd heard several times that the side of the foot is one of the most painful spots on your body. After he'd started, Henk said: 'Are you okay? This spot seems pretty painful to me'. But reality was better. It didn't hurt that much at all! I don't know if it's my threshold of pain or just the situation, but I don't know why people complain about the foot. Now, 8 hours later, I don't even feel the burning anymore. I only see my tattoo. And what I see is marvellous. 

By the way, the handwriting is my own. My previous tattoo was written by myself as well, so I guess it won't be long 'till my entire body is covered in my own doodles :) 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ik doe maar wat

This poem is meant to be in Dutch, sorry for the English/French/Spanish/whateverothercountryintheworld readers. 

Misschien zou het wel fijner zijn
Om gewoon maar wat te doen
Niets af te spreken, vast te leggen
Maar gewoon te zijn, te leven en te doen
Zonder iets tegen iemand te zeggen

Misschien zou het wel fijner zijn
Nooit een antwoord te geven
Aan wie het dan ook vragen zal
Niet meer naar een verklaring te streven
Van wat, waar en waarom vooral

Misschien zou het wel fijner zijn
Om doelloos rond te lopen
Te gaan, te zien en te ondernemen
Zonder dat er mensen zijn die hopen
Dat zorgt vast voor minder problemen

Misschien zou het wel fijner zijn
Om nergens iets van te vinden
Niets te zeggen, nooit te discussiƫren
Maar gewoon de wereld zien zoals ‘ie is
En dat te accepteren

Maar wat als ik me dan ga vervelen
En waar moet ik dan betekenis aan geven
Ineens kan het me niet meer zoveel schelen
Want ik doe maar wat,

en dat is het fijne van het leven

Oscar Wilde: genius of Quotes

He was gay. That, I knew. He was a dandy. That, I knew. And he was buried in Paris, at the cemetery Pere Lachaise. That, I had even seen. The grave, I mean. But what else was there to know about the famous Oscar Wilde? Writer, poet and aesthete of profession. Not to mention quotist. If quoting had been a job, Oscar Wilde would have mastered it. His life in a few sentences and a whole lot of quotes.

Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin in 1854 as the son of rich and high educated parents. Wilde himself was brilliant as well. He studied classic languages at Trinity College and soon received a Berkeley Gold Medal. The meaning of it is unknown to me, but it must be something extremely important. Wilde was gifted with a huge talent for writing. But that wasn't all he was known for, since he also profiled himself as decadent and aesthetic. No sports for him, no manly behaviour and no simplicity. No, Wilde wanted flowers, fairy tales and feathers. Wilde was all about l'art pour l'art.

After graduation, he started writing theater plays and giving lectures - mostly about aestheticism and art. In 1888 his first collection of fairy tales appeared and in 1891 his first - and only - novel was published.  The novel in question is 'The picture of Dorian Gray', which I read a few weeks ago and which is outstanding. It's filled with wit, drama and darkness, yet has a light touch. Why? Because of the character Lord Henry, who is all about decadence as well and who enjoys - but also bothers - his public with many controversial - but also often true - theories.

As time passed, Wilde became more and more individualistic. In the late 1800s Wilde met Lord Alfred Douglas, and fell desperately in love with the man. I should mention that Wilde was married at the time. Something you might not expect - considering his feminine preferences - but being gay in public was not done in those days. Not at all. Despite the secretiveness, Wilde was accused of sonomy, arrested and put in jail. This did damage to his health and that's why he lived his last days in exile in France. He died at the age of 47 due to a condition in his brains. A tragic ending to a life filled with love of tragedy.