30 september 2006

Smalltalk in Rotterdam

Rotterdam is a city I kind of avoided visiting when Sakura was here the last week. Not because I don't like it, I actually always feel very comfortable there as the people seem to be more easygoing than in Amsterdam, but it is just a big city that I don't know very well and that does not have the well-known touristspots like our capital. Yesterday evening however, Iris and I dressed up for a night of what was supposed to be doing what we like to do a lot, dancing, in Rotterdam.

The evening turned out a little different than we planned it as the crowd waiting to get into the Thalia Lounge wasn't really the crowd we wanted to dance with. We decided to sell our tickets to the guys behind us and went to de Beurs. There the crowd wasn't much better, but still we had a few drinks. It was getting late, but on the way home we decided to step inside de Witte Aap (?!) where we spent another two hours talking to some fairly interesting people.

The thing I really wanted to jot down here was the content of a talk that I had with a guy in De Beurs. After discussing several clubs in Rotterdam he said that some places are a lot more friendly than others and this is because of the average education level of the guests. His thesis was that the higher the level the less open and friendly to strangers people tend to be. So for example in De Beurs where a lot of university students go, people do not easily talk to strangers (except when they are hitting on them), in his opinion because the higher the educational level, the bigger the ego... :)

I was sort of surprised by his remarks especially because I have experienced the same thing a few times myself. I mostly measure friendliness in clubs by the way women act towards each other in toilets for example. Some time ago I was at a party in Leiden's City Hall and I was completely surprised by the friendly remarks I got from the other girls in the toilet. Why was I so surprised? Well, probably because this doesn't happen that often in the student places I normally go to.

Did this guy and I discover a Law of Friendliness in Clubs or are we just talking nonsense?! Any other opinions on this?

Anyways, Rotterdam was fun, I should go there more often! Also because they put girls in traffic lights there ;)

26 september 2006

Sakura

My friend Sakura from Japan with whom I spent many nights chatting when I was in Tokyo last spring, was in the Netherlands for the past 6 days. We saw a lot of wonderful cities, landscapes and nature.. Nederland is mooi! (click on the thumbs to enlarge..)






















































































And now, back to the books :)

10 september 2006

Teaspoon

An experience I had last week keeps popping up in my mind, so apparently there is a need to do something with it which means to write about it.

Last Monday my beautiful Leiden University (to which I certainly harbour a strong ‘patriotic’ sentiment) held a ceremony to open the new academic year. Officially there was no need for me to be there as I am no longer a member of the Faculty of Arts Council or the University Council. But as there would be a prominent guest speaker, Mr. Alexander Rinnooy Kan, I decided to go anyway. The whole thing was sort of disappointing; except for the physics demonstration at the end the ceremony was filled with the ‘Choosing Talent’, ‘Going for excellence’ rhetoric I have been hearing for years now. While I was discussing the need for action instead of words with some friends, the following happened.

I saw a first year male student stealing a teaspoon.

No, it wasn’t a cup, it wasn’t a coffee pot, it weren’t even many teaspoons. It was just one teaspoon. And I was shocked. And at the same time I was shocked that I was shocked. Still I felt an immense need to go and tell this guy that he was violating the property of my beautiful university and that this wasn’t the way he, as a student of this university, could behave. And as somehow I often need to listen to my feelings, I decided to walk up this boy and tell him what I thought. “Come on, it’s just a teaspoon.” he said. “Yes, it’s a teaspoon and it isn’t yours so put it back.” I replied. And he did.

The funny thing was that even though my friends told me that I did the right thing and that more people should avoid others acting like this, I felt ashamed about sticking to my principles. In a city in which it is not more than normal that students steal traffic signs, student association beer glasses and the like, I of all people had to go and tell a boy off about stealing a teaspoon.

The following days I thought about the teaspoon a lot. I realised it wasn’t about the size of the object, but about the fact that I do not think people should steal, small or big. Even if nobody sees it and there is no chance of being caught, I think stealing is wrong. But why make such a fuss about just a teaspoon? Well just because. Maybe it’s one of the things from my protestant upbringing that stuck. The eighth commandment doesn’t say “thou shalt not steal” for nothing.

Thinking about Christian morality made me think of Prime Minister Balkenende’s initiative to try to let the Dutch discuss “Values and Norms” a while ago. Because of reasons I don’t know he didn’t really pursue this. Probably because it was done away with as “a Harry Potter look-a-like’s attempt to teach the people how to act” by the media. This is a pity, as I kind of like the old saying that one should not act in a way that one does not want to be treated by others. Why? Because I think this is the only way we can live together in harmoniously. Moraalridder? Mierenneuker? (morality knight?! / quibbler).. Sure. But still, is there really another way in which we can live together in a peaceful way on this small piece of land if we don’t abide by this principle? I don’t think so.

2 september 2006

Burned Hand Break

This week I managed to burn my right hand. It's not very bad, but typing kind of hurts. And as I have had below pictures waiting to be published here anyway, this is as good a time as ever! A view of where I grew up, beautiful Lage Zwaluwe and surroundings, my Heimat ;)