0001-Anwar: columns 001 – 010

010 – House cleaning

In Syria a garden is only reserved for rich people. Although Syria still more than four times larger than the Netherlands, there is lack of space. Do not ask me why, but the streets are narrow, the houses are close together and in a building only the upper residents get a dash of sun on their balcony. They are therefore often social people, for those who live less like to be drinking tea on the top, sunny, balcony. In my new home in the Arnhem district Presikhaaf I feel like a king. Having a garden is only reserved in Syria for rich, important people. I am neither, but I now have a garden. If I walk out there sun and nature. Netherlands used its surface well. Achmed my roommate and I are busy painting. On the floor we put laminate. We are actually used to a tiled floor drainage. Our mothers clean with buckets of water to throw on the ground and then scrub. Syrians have almost all the same memories there. Gliding through the liing room with the water that your mother had flushed out. I’ve been there twice with my broken nose. In the Arnhem refugee shelter Dome is a huge slick feed. A few months ago there was a small nocturnal revolt in which people threw food. The next day we had – of course – to clean the floor in the middle of the Dome together. All Syrians in the shelter began to pick up buckets of water and throw it with big bows on the floor. Employees of the coa came to me in panic: “What are you doing ???”. We had no idea, we just did what we always do our mothers did. But yes, of course there is no drain in the floor.

009 – Subdued

I have a house! I’m so happy. In two weeks I get the key to an apartment, which I will share with Achmed, a friend from refugee reception Dome. I’ve seen the house, located in Arnhem Presikhaaf. It is lovely. A soccer field nearby, a Turkish supermarket and we have no less than two gardens: a front yard and a back yard. Now we are fantasizing about the design. We are still not agree on anything, so the temporary solution is that we draw a line through the living room and arrange half my good, modern taste and the other half in Achmed’s old-fashioned style. Just kidding, we look or a middle. Achmed wants at least as much light as in Syrian living rooms.  I am now accustomed to all those muted homes here. Initially I thought that I was constantly somewhere inconvenient. That the light was just subdued because there was something romantic happening. In Dutch living rooms I’m nodding throughout the evening around all those candles. I’m getting sleepy. During one of those visits to a Dutch household, I learned that this “no” really means “no.” “Want a drink Anwar?” I was asked. I said ‘no’, because that should be, in Syria. Only if someone insists, you say ‘yes’. But then I got really nothing. I sat there all night without drinking. Handy, because that I did not go to the bathroom. When someone else goes to the toilet, which is in fact also be used in accordance with our indecent. But I promise that everyone who comes to visit in my new house, goes straight to the toilet. Because I live here now.

008 – My first fine

I started an intensive language training in Nijmegen. Three days a week I have to take the train from Arnhem to Nijmegen to learn Dutch. Getting used to that traveling with a chip. I saw dozens of students walking casually along that checkpoint. They did not look, they held their only their chipcard near the pole and ran after the beep again. I had earplugs in, sunglasses and walked as nonchalantly past the post. I was just like them, I thought. On the train there was a checker, he asked for my smart card. “You are not checked,” he said. I curled up, everyone looked at me. I felt frightened and ashamed. For a man in uniform you need to be scared in Syria. I tended to give him money, because that is the wayin Syria to get rid of a cop. A train inspector is admittedly not a cop, but I have no idea whether such a person the same control as an agent here, or maybe more. The man wrote a fine for me, 54 euros. I have explained that I had checked in, but it did not help. The worst thing is not the fine, but I am now in the Dutch system as someone who did not behave well. On my way back I walked more carefully along that pole. I said to the people behind me that they had to wait and have ten times again checked. That pole hit it wild. With a grin I was waiting would come to an inspector on the train, but none came. There was no one who saw that I had done well, so I tell it here. I checked in and it worked!

007 – Birthday

Three months ago I saw a Dutch girl in the street, and I fell in love instantly with her. I told everyone who would listen about her. I saw her only in passing by, but that was enough. If she marries me, I do everything in my life for her. Work, housework, whatever she wants. Last weekend I was asked with my landlady ‘Gerda to the anniversary of the neighbor. When I entered, I saw to my surprise the conscious girl there in the house. She is the daughter of my neighbor! Moments later her sisters entered. I kept my face straight, but inside I fainted. So much beauty. I whispered “Gerda take me to the hospital!” There were more guests, they gave gifts to the neighbor. Gifts, which opened the neighbor directly. I did not know what I saw. In Syria it is very rude, because you have to protect the donor. Perhaps the is the principal poor and he or she provides an inexpensive gift. That may not be visible in front of the others. One of the sisters asked me what I wanted to drink. Water! I needed water to continue normal behaviour. I also got a small piece of cake offered. There were no candles, there was no singing. All the guests had ordinary clothes on, no one danced. The tables full of food that I know were missing from Syria. I thought it was a strange place, some Dutch birthday. But hey, who cares. Three women look like angels dwell beside me. I did not want to go home, never again. After a while Gerda said we went home. I wanted ‘Nooooooo’ scream but I said, “Okay Gerda. Thank you all and see you soon.“

006 – Good Muslim

In Syria, it felt like I was in a test from God. Be a good Muslim, I find that difficult. Because how do you behave in a war? Go steal your food when you’re hungry? Defend your country and if so, who are the goodies and who is evil? In which army you need to connect? I changed in Syria monthly opinions. At first I wanted to fulfill my duty and defend our country. But then it quickly became one big bloodbath, I realized that that was not the right thing. It feels like God passed Syrians through a sieve and look who finally left in the sieve. Who makes the right choices, who continues to pray and believe in happy ending? I choosed to shift my focus. To no longer wanting to protect the country, but my family and friends. I wanted to make sure they were safe and had food. If you study, you do as a young man not the army. I studied, but was regularly approached by government officials. “This is not the time to study, but to serve your country,” they said. I felt about not guilty. The country was now totally in ruins. After my studies I fled. I had to join the Army for a not limited time. I did not want to be a killer. Here in the Netherlands feels it easier to make the right choices. The choices I make will certainly not concern life and death. If God is finished sieving, I hope I stick close call in that sieve.

005  – Behaviour with a woman

I went last weekend with two friends from the Dome by Sonsbeekpark in Arnheim. We saw a group of sporting women, along with a man. “Would you agree?”, asked one of my friends. I knew what he meant. In Syria you would never send your wife with another man to the forest. But it looked pretty normal. Women good at running that guy was, I guess, a sort of coach. I had to get used to when I saw such scenes for the first time. But I now see that it is fine. My friends with whom I had walked with me.agreed too.

Work:  “And your future wife to work, would you do that?” they asked. Also that. And they too. What can change in eight months time. When Dome eight months ago filled up with four hundred men, including myself, we sat there somewhat lost. We were convinced that no one in the Netherlands liked us and we found everything outside the building but exciting.

Invited:  Somewhere in those first weeks, I was invited by a Dutch woman. I arrived at her for dinner, while her husband was not home. I was very nervous about it. I thought he would be furious if he would find me to her table. But when he came home, he looked pleased and he asked how I was doing. In Dome are many cells empty.

Outside World: 

Many refugees are out. At Dutch friends, visiting, or at work nearby. What we see in the outside world, sets us thinking. Those friends who had their own answers to me about questions asked in the park though, but it’s nice to confirm each other:. How Dutch life, which is actually not so bad.

004 – Memories

Sometimes I have the impression that there are two versions of myself. If I go to sleep is the one Anwar, who can go to sleep because he likes his new life in the Netherlands. I fantasize about the study that I want to follow the work I can do. When I am almost asleep, is the other side up. I think of my life in Syria.

Snipers: 

How every time I had to run through a field full of snipers to get food in a different area. How do we in the middle of the night fled from our house because a group of soldiers with long beards passing through our street. They shouted that they would murder us all. The next day there was nothing left of our home. My mother heard recently only with one ear a little bit. She became deaf of all bombardments. My father can not move much a part of his body, he has a piece of shrapnel in his shoulder. The idea that she and my brother every day exposed to danger, gives me difficulty falling asleep.

Studying and working: 

The only thing I can do is study hard and work for them so that I can earn money and take care of them. Every time I do not want to study the Dutch language, I think of my family. I spring up and I dive back into the books. When people ask me for the first time asked if I would like to return later to Syria, I immediately said yes! Later, I began to doubt. Because of all those awful memories. Nevertheless, I share below 1 reminder that I’m still often wake up. Bringing food, while snipers shooting at us. For the people on the video is no bad memory, but still the daily reality in Aleppo.

003 – Refugee instead of a man

The status of “refugee” is sometimes quite difficult. It is a status that ensures that you have less rights than another. I refer not only to legislation, but also on behavior expected of a refugee. We must always show to be grateful. Because: “If you do not like then you go away.” That kind of comments hurt me terribly.

Be killed or murdered: 

When I got the sense in Syria that I had the choice between being killed or become a murderer, I left. The moment I stepped across the border from Syria to Turkey, I changed from a man in a ‘refugee’. From that moment I could do nothing but accept everything that happened to me. I slept in the woods and on the street, boarded a packed plastic boat to Greece and left me smelly, exhausted and discouraged by Europe. Waiting at the border in Macedonia was perhaps the worst. I was beaten by border guards who wanted to keep the crowd at bay and froze in the night almost dead.

Germany: 

Arriving in Germany I expected it to life as a fugitive was over, we would be “people” again. In the camp where I ended up, they wanted to check everyone’s health. Against a man you say, “Anwar, go sit down May I look amongst your hair if you have fleas.?” At a refugee you say apparently nothing. We got a number and doctors adopted us as if we were cattle. I am also fled to the Netherlands. I like it here, I love the Netherlands. And I am certainly very grateful. But I am a human being. With rights and an opinion.

002 – Mothers

Mothers, are all over the world the same. Since this week I live in a house with lovely people Gerda (63) and Erik (56). They live near the refugee center Dome and asked me if I would stay with them for three months (longer stay at one address may not COA). Gerda is like my own mother. Therefore, it remains strange to call her by her first name. My mother would give me a slap if I could use her first name. Then I just sat in the Dome, Gerda took me into town and bought clothes for me. Now she takes care of me like her own children. It feels like home.

Pasta:  As a welcome gift, a neighbour came and brought a jar cholocolate pasta for me. I knew her from the street. In the morning as they walk to school, I whistle out the window on my fingers, and then they shout “Good morning, Anwar!” Besides, I know now more people around than Gerda and Erik. It seems to be normal in the Netherlands that people do not know anyone from their own street. I think that’s crazy. I suspect that at the end of the sleepover the whole street knows each other, I’m going for sure.

Study:  The first day I stayed at my Dutch ‘parents’, I made the first mistake. I remain a fugitive, so I went here along with my friends at The Dome. When I got home at midnight, Gerda was waiting for me at the kitchen table. She said, “Anwar, this is not the Dome eh! Dutch drink in the evening a cup of coffee, read a book and go to sleep. If you want to integrate, you have to study and sleep in time.” I apologized. Then she laughed again and asked: “Are you hungry? Do you want to eat something?’

Worried:  That would immediately ask my mother. My parents in Aleppo have to eat less every month. If there is even a shop with stock, will strike the whole city, because no one knows how much worse it is going to be yet. Despite my mother is mainly concerned with me. She’s worried whether I was eating enough. She asks me every morning if I’ve had breakfast. “You look so thin on the photos, you’ll get enough to eat, Anwar?” They need not worry, because Gerda will have breakfast is important. She says she does lock the door as I want without breakfast the door. Yes, it feels like home.

001 – Chosen the right country

The first week of our intensive Dutch course is over. The beginning was relatively simple. The alphabet is known to us, the eight participants in this training are all highly trained. I myself am a lawyer. Since September I stay at The Dome, (a former prison in Arnheim) waiting for a residence permit and a house. On the basis of the Dutch language I already started in the refugee shelter, so the first lessons are fairly familiar ground. Besides language, we also get citizenship lessons, so we will not only how to speak the language but also the country and know its use. I hear a lot of new things. I know now that the football club Vitesse of Arnheim, Ajax Amsterdam and Feyenoord Rotterdam. The Constitution is explained to us, the most important part: discrimination. No one may be disadvantaged here because he or she is gay, female, religious, or ethnic minorities. That does me good. I am a Syrian Kurd. In Syria I felt regular second person, because I am a Kurd. Fortunately, here in the law that one second should be treated. The various political parties are explained to us. The teacher said that people in the Netherlands may be against the policy of the king. I did not know that. When she said that, I stopped feeling upset. I had the realization that I have chosen to settle me the in the right country. Here is freedom that I need. From The Dome I greet all Dutch. Hey!

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