Sunday, June 28, 2009

Always time for art?

On my way to a meeting at the airport, I rushed my way through the commuter crowd when my eyes caught a girl jumping ropes. She was shown on a huge video screen in front of the train station, right in the heart of Amsterdam's business centre. A man next to her, jumps along. It was a surprise to see, a sudden bit of peacefulness flowing across the square. I stood still and tried to understand what it was I actually saw.

On the way back, I showed my (very special Burmese) guest the screen and we found out that through a toll-free phonenumber we could hear the sounds that accompanied the images. This time the controlled passion of football fans was shown.
This open air art is provided for by CASZUIDAS – moving images in public space, a what they call "urban screen arts initiative". It's great! Very inspiring. It does make me wonder however whether more people actually take to time to watch it. Has anyone else ever called the phonenumber to get the soundbites?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The far East

For the past year, I've lived in Amsterdam Oost, the eastern part of the city. Before moving there I had the impression that it was a somewhat unsafe neighborhood with ugly houses. Now, after having lived in four apartments (three of them with Indonesian street names), I must rectify. The far East is fantastic!

It is a lively, multicultural neigborhood, especially the part called the Indische buurt. As said, street names refer to Indonesian cities or Islands - in colonial Dutch spelling I must add. The Javastraat is the centerpoint; there you can find all sorts of shops; Turkish bakeries, Surinamese foodshops, Dutch cheeseshops, cellphone and long-distance phonecards suppliers and of course the laundry shop with the Indonesian owner.

The owner of the barbershop is a Singaporese man, who's lived in the Netherlands for years. He works with Sonja, a Moluccan lady, who immediately recognized my Indonesian features (to my great pleasure). The shop is visited by a caucasian dad with his three small children, a Chinese student, a Surinamese Indian man in his fifties, an Indisch lady who speaks Dutch mixed with Indonesian words.

In Oosterpark people do Tai Chi on a Friday afternoon. The Surinamese teacher instructs a group of 30 some people of all different types and skintones on the movements.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dutch girl becomes Indonesian superstar

On a holiday on Bali, Rebecca Reijman rocked a microphone at a Karaoke bar and what many people dream of happened: she was 'discovered' by a producer and offered a record deal. Now, one year later, she's a superstar. Rebecca is of Surinamese-Javanese descent; she has Javanese and Dutch features and fits the Indonesian beauty ideal. She had never visited Indonesia before. As she didn't speak the language yet, she took Indonesian lessons for two months and started recording. Her CD is a big hit and soon she'll star in a Singapore film.

Her first video Tanpamu (without you)

So, who know.. maybe I do stand a chance after all! ;)

Here are some videos taken of my performance with Chester Brandes at the Anak Wayang Benefit dinner. More can be found here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Every family has a story like this one

When I just started reading A fraction of the whole, I was annoyed; the characters all seemed depressed overthinkers without a sense of humor. Why was I reading about their lives? Luckily, I found out soon enough.

When Martin, the main character, places a suggestion box in front of the town hall of (what the inhabitants themselves call) the least desirable place to live in New South Wales, it all changed for me. I began laughing out loud and haven't stopped until I finished the book. It is a great and highly recommended read! This review in the Guardian focuses on the brilliance of the fact that all good intentions seem to have disastrous results. I totally agree; the magic for me lies in the fact that in the end I actually sympathized with the characters.

Well, I will not talk about the plot here - click here for more on the plot and the author. Instead, I'll just quote some of what I think are the funniest passages in the book. Being an Asia lover, I especially enjoyed the character's observation of life in Thailand.

The second note Martin puts in his suggestion box reads: "For Jack Hill, the town barber. While it is admirable that you continue to cut our hair despite the crippling arthritis afflicting you, the result is that this town had more bad, uneven, and downright mysterious haircuts than any town in the world. You are turning us into freaks. Please - retire your vibrating scissors and hire an apprentice".

Page 575: "To get to Tim Lung's place we had to catch a long-tail boat down a dirty, foul-smelling canal. As we passed wooden canoes laden with multicoloured fruits and vegetables, I shielded my face from threatening splashes of murky water. My first impressions of Thailand were good, but I knew my immune system wasn't up for the challenge of its bacteria". 

Conclusion: Read it!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Work from the soul, not from the ego

From 2-5 June, I had the pleasure to attend the Global Forum on Freedom of Expression in Oslo, Norway. It was very informative, useful and most of all extremely inspiring. Especially the session 'Silencing Women's Voices' with Lydia Cacho, Philo Ikonya, Irshad Manji and Malalai Yoga on the panel, roused in me a sense of urgency to go out and change the world. It is people like this we need in this world. Especially us women need role models like these. Lydia Cacho concluded by urging us all to work from the soul, to keep on fighting for what we believe in.

Hilarious! This woman is so courageous. A true example for women (and men!) all over the world.

What a shock when I saw myself! See after 7 minutes.