0006-Anwar: columns 011 – 020

020 – Babysitting The choice of “what-would-you-be-later” I made long ago.

Lawyer. I studied law in Aleppo, got my diploma as a lawyer and was started. When the war in Syria started and everything went completely else. I have been living in the Netherlands, where my education completed hardly of any value. Now I’m 26 and I must again make the choice for my future. What do I want here? I have been told that law school is only possible if I can speak (and write) both Dutch and English at the highest level of management. I must then learn to speak Dutch, I like the King of the Netherlands. I’m not sure I really still want it. I speak now Kurdish, Arabic, English and Dutch together. My head is sometimes completely full. There is an other possibility.

Architect was always in second place, but it seems in the Netherlands a totally unnecessary appeal. All the houses are the same. You may perhaps only think of a different color roof. If I am called to ask where I am, I reply standard: “In the Netherlands”. Where in the Netherlands, I never know, because everything seems similar. That is probably the reason that everyone has a navigation system here. Friends say I should choose a profession with children. Children are happy with me, I like them. That’s true. In Syria it is a profession that men do not choose. The primary work is only for women. Does not matter to me, I think it is indeed what it is for me. When I later have children, I can tell you at least that their father, “the babysitter”, was a lawyer in an other life.

019 – Men’s rights

As a child I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to fight for rights and especially the rights of women. My father is a nice man, but I often had to cry like a child as he hit my mother. I thought it was unfair that men and women were not all. The mothers could not work around me. But they were always cleaning and cooking at home, even if they were very tired. When I went to college, my motivation was clear. I wanted to help not only women, but also children. The sadness that I myself had in my youth about the fate of my mother, I wanted to save other children. How different it is in the Netherlands. I see women as a bus driver, police officer or owner of a restaurant. When they come home, they are often there the boss. I met a Dutch family where the husband gave his wife money to go shopping. If you eat here with a woman, she pays her own part. I even married couples keep their finances separate. I understand nothing of it. You do share everything together when you are married? When I am waiting at the station, I always wonder the same thing: why is heard through the speaker ‘ladies and gentlemen’. Why not “men and women”? Women here are always number one. I’ve seen it, I have to use my training in the Netherlands to fight for the rights of the husband. Because of this equality is not so bad here. I will not rest until you are in the train and hear: ‘men and women’. Then we have guys at least that.

018 – Reading

My vacation began last week actually to look a bit like a holiday. I was taken away by two Dutch friends to an outdoor swimming pool in Arnhem. I expected that we would go swimming there, chatting and people watching. I did eventually, but only. My friends had a book with him and sat reading all afternoon in the grass, like many other guests at the pool. In the beginning I thought that reading people are very busy, because they might soon have a key. It turns out that Dutch like to read just. I know people here who just before they visit the bookstore go on holiday to buy books and magazines for their holidays. A Dutch couple where I lived at home, even read in bed. In Syria, people watch only television. There are 24 hours in a day, but Syrians watch about 25 hours of TV per day. Dutch put the visitors come from the television. Syria would be an insult, if you want to go visit home. In the big city of Aleppo is perhaps one store where you can get some books. There is a library. The man who works there, it slaapverwekkendste job in the country. He probably heard all day cicadas, because there really is no one. Only if, for example receive a Minister to be in town, this is done in the library. That is good, lots of books and a large building. Then they talk there and they broadcast it on TV. And look Syrians then all together. they see the library once inside.

017 – Aleppo

I had just started my integration course if I got vacation. I have weeks to tell now about my family in Aleppo. Now the city is surrounded by the Syrian army and food and drinking water are increasingly scarce, people do the craziest things. Men join to get rebel groups in the city because of the promise that they money or eat there. Widows with children offer their bodies at soldiers in exchange for food for their children. Shops are looted. My parents say that they still have supplies at home. I hope that’s true. My brother will be 27 in three months. That means, according to the new rules in Syria that, although he is studying, he should join the army. Soldiers now have just one week of training instead of one year. My brother is smart and sensitive, but not exactly Jackie Chan. If he goes in the army with one week experience he dies right away, I’m sure. He can not leave the country, because Turkey does not take refugees anymore. When connecting a group such as Free Army of the Kurds is useless, because he will have to fight immediately. Hiding in the house until the war is over is possible, but that is the worst option. We have several times to flee from our home for military groups marched through the neighborhood. Then our house was destroyed and we had to look for another house. If it happens again then my brother is still visible in public and taken. I would like him want to come across. He is a man, his life is worth as much as that of any other. In one of the nights I lay awake, I thought that I would say that I’m gay and that my friend (my brother) is still in Syria. A stupid idea that I’m going to run, but nights can now once last very long.

016 – Youth in Syria

Now I know what freedom is in the Netherlands, I also know that I have never have known it in Syria. As a child I did not understand. I took everything as it came, as children do. My parents made me only speak Kurdish at home, nowhere else. I was not thinking about the reason, I just listened. Thanks for children who have property. It made my childhood quite well. You can not compare the youth of Dutch children with mine. My brother and I had no toys. I worked since I was eight. I helped with cleaning in a flower shop, later in a barber shop and then in a restaurant. My father often complimented me on my jobs. He said that we had a home thanks to me to live in. I do not know if that is really so, I think he said it mostly to make me proud. I thought it was fine, because I was very much out of the house. We lived in a very dark street with no sunlight and had to be all one bedroom. Street play was too dangerous, so a job offered required (safe) distraction. Only at the university I realized for the first time that the system in which I lived was called at least remarkable . I wanted to sign up for the party of Bashar al-Assad. Not because I wanted to, but because it is the only way into Syria to join. If you are applying, after the question of how hot and when you were born, whether you are in the ruling party. If not, you can forget about that job. I have repeatedly tried to register, but could not. I seemed to have a distant uncle who was a Kurdish party. A mortal sin, which spills over to the whole family. Freedom, it is a great thing.

015 – Test

To do tests, of which I do not know all kinds of answers, it feels strange. I had exams this week to take Dutch at level 2.

The first question: “You work in a factory and would like to ask your boss if you have to work on weekends. What did you say?’ I started thinking about the word ‘factory’. What would that be? Suddenly I heard a buzzer, the fourteen seconds I had to answer the question were over.

At the university where I studied law in Syria I always knew everything. Classmates who understood not so well, were cheating on me. I put my school card on the table and put my gum right in response to a top left to answer b, and lower right of reply c. It worked, but not for long. I was pulled out of class at my ears and the teacher demanded an explanation. Why is everyone looking in the classroom to your gum? I got a lot of hits in school. My hands are still swollen ruler of all strokes. But here I have a very kind teacher. When I did not answer one question because I was thinking, she asked to look at me kindly better.

The next question. “Your girlfriend is next Friday visiting you. You have made a plan for her visit and talks about it on the phone to your girlfriend. What do you say?“ I thought it was a complicated question. An Arab would never make an appointment a week in advance, let alone expand a detailed plan for the visit which is to come. I wanted to give that answer to the computer, maybe I should get plus points for a joke. I looked back, I saw the teacher friendly nod. My hands they probably will not work with a ruler, but after my school in Syria, I dare not joking in a test.

Bzzzt. Again fourteen seconds passed.

014 – Holiday

Hurray! The holiday season has arrived again. I remember well, last year, when I went for the first time in my life went on vacation. We went cozy with the boat. A plastic boat in the middle of the night. The trip costed us about the same as a Dutchman who goes on vacation: € 2.050. Unfortunately we had no guarantee that we would arrive alive. Leaving with four people means in some cases: arriving with only two. Dutch people can choose for a surprise trip, you will hear at the airport where you are going. You can specify preferences. “If it is warm,” for example. Such a condition we had. “If it’s just nice and safe.” Just as the Dutch we walked and had been running during the holidays. Occasionally with a couple of dogs after us, or what wailing sirens. For a first holiday I found the somewhat disappointing. But seriously, I have a lot to think about. A year ago. What it seems nice to ever really go on vacation. To make pictures that not only aim to show that I am still alive. To walk down fruit trees in Greece without me fighting with other refugees to the fruit from the trees. I proudly against the people on my vacation can say that I am from the Netherlands. That people at borders kindly look at me when they see my passport, which I do not have to beg or they let me pass. Most importantly, I can return home. I fantasize sometimes already on a holiday to Turkey. My family, the border can not, but just feel like I’m close to them seems fine to me. It will still take a long time time before I can go on vacation. But that’s okay, because I’m still recovering from my last.

013 – Elderly people

Oh how I love this country anyway. I saw this week a bus with an automatic ramp, so that a wheelchair could be in the bus. Genius. I did volunteer work in Syria with disabelt people, I therefore look everywhere how to care for these people. Syria must help all passengers as someone to get on the bus. It is difficult, but because of the lack of facilities may be disabled as free travel. Now I’m a little settled in the Netherlands, I have my volunteer work resumed. I started in a nursing home ‘in Arnhem. I had never been in a big building full of elderly people, because Syrians take their mother and father in their home. About people who send their parents to have some older building is bad talk. Now I have one visited there, I see the beautiful side of it. They are pawns in the center and among the other Arnhem. The rooms are very nice and there are flowers. I also saw that music was made for them. A new resident was received with flowers. Great that older people still count in the Netherlands and received so warmly. The nursing home is a good place for me to be. It is the only place in Arnhem, where I can track all calls. The residents and staff speak slowly and loud Dutch. Personally, I can be of any use. There lives an Iraqi woman in a wheelchair. She can talk to anyone. I imagined in Arabic and instantly there appeared a big smile on her face. Another resident jumped on. “Hey, where are you from? Syria? Where is it? In Africa? And how long have you been here?” The wife has Alzheimer so a minute later follows the same questions again. And a few minutes later once again. Now when I see her and start moving her lips, but I put right from shore. I come from Syria, which is close to Egypt and I’ve been here nine months. Then she looks happy. It’s all they want to know.

012 – Nauseous

My mother calling. She’s been inside for days. Water and electricity are completely down. In Aleppo is everybody summoned especially, to stay inside: schools and businesses are closed. So fierce as now the violence was not previously. In the neighborhood where my parents live, allready two hundred people have been killed in recent days. I’m having breakfast with Ahmed. We drink milkshakes have sandwiches and coffee. We talk about Syria. A banquet hall in the city that we both know well. During Eid, there are fathers, mothers and children celebrating the end of Ramadan. During the party there is a bombing, dead and wounded lying everywhere. After ambulances and rescuers arrive, following a second bombing raid. It is a new tactic of the rebels. Attack, wait comes to help and then strike again. Slowly I get sick, I can not get a bite through my throat. I am richly eating breakfast here while my parents for three days seem staring ahead of their home. My mother crying on the phone. She says she’s glad I’m not with them. “I know my son. You would not go out, you would help the wounded, even though there are snipers lurking. You’ve been away so long, but still I think with every bombing raid, where is my son? “Then she realizes that I’m safe. During breakfast Ahmed and I decide that we can not continue so. We do not want to eat while our family is shot and without electricity, food and water. Tomorrow we do it in a day without it. No electricity, no wifi, no water and no food. We want to be close to our family and feel what they feel. We have five years as lived during the war, but after a year in the Netherlands that feeling fades further and further into the background. Tomorrow we get it back one day. we help someone with it? Only ourselves. But sometimes that is just as necessary.

011 – Hits Ask a Syrian man what he loves more his wife or football. Yeah really, they will all say ‘football’. Since the Netherlands does not join the European Championships have Achmed and I thought we for countries that support refugees. Germany we really encouraged example. The EC is a civilized affair for Arabs. Footballers apologize when they make violation. I also see here at amateur clubs. Kindness in the field.

Hits:  If Arnhem and Nijmegen were Syrian cities, it was one of those two cities destroyed after a game NEC Vitesse. Dutch, who talk like they have a conflict. The Arabs where I grew up clapping along parts first and then talk. There is only peace to talk, as there have been some fists in the air. To be honest, I like it. This is, moreover, to be men together, a woman can not touch with a finger.

Soccer:  The first month in the Netherlands, in the reception of refugees Dome in Arnhem, we played football a lot. We heard there was to be no fighting, otherwise there might be a problem with our residence. It was funny jars football. We narrowed our red fists in frustration and looked angrily round or did not happen to an unguarded moment was when we could deal a blow.

Talk:  In the Netherlands, it is not so, I know. I therefore more distributed not hit until a month ago. Now I am under the supervision of the COA and I have a friend and roommate from Syria, ‘talk’ is not always the first thing that comes to us. While jobs Achmed and I have ever given each other a kick or blow. If I had asked him to come and sit down to talk out a problem, he would also think I’m no good at my head.

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