0032-Anwar: columns 021-030

030 – Animals

In the Netherlands is so much respect that even animals are treated like people. The supermarket is a special corner with animal stuff. There is a school for dogs and a political party for animals. I meet people who talk to dogs, cats and rabbits. “Sit, no, sit! Listen to me”, I heard someone say to his dog. I see it and think, you mean this seriously now? You ask your dog now a minute to listen? Dogs can not talk and hence do not listen, I think. I have a friend who lives with her husband and a dog. That dog is as big as a dinosaur, but they talk to it as if it were her son. If she wants the beast goes to her husband, she says, “go and see daddy”. They pay someone to care for their dog when they go to work. I do not understand why this is necessary. Can a dog is not just playing in the park as the owners are at work? I know that only children that you pay people to take care of them. Funny detail is that Dutch always say to me that they are very busy. “No time,” I get settled in reply. But for their dog, they have a lot of time. Hours they walk with their pet, if necessary, in the rain and the wind. So far, I can not imagine that I would ever live in a house with an animal. I keep them so often associate with danger. In Syria, almost no one has a pet. The animals, which are there, are often used as a means of defense. As with the police. During my flight from Aleppo to Netherlands I was often chased by police dogs. Swear words in Arabic too often about animals. “You’re an animal,” is really an insult. Here it might be a compliment.

029 – Women

Women’s rights in Syria, I wrote once before about there. It caused quite a commotion. Not under Dutch but among Syrians. According to them, I have shown it to be negative, because women in Syria have the same rights as in the Netherlands. Is also, according to the code anyway. Women are allowed to work, walking in bikini, become president, divorce, get married children, everything that exists in the Netherlands. So I had better not talk about women, but about women’s culture in Syria. Because there it goes wrong and that concerns me a lot. My mother may work for the government, but my father did not like that idea. He thinks it is not good if she comes into contact with other men. Moreover, he likes his job to care for her. My mother wants to work, but tells me that she is satisfied with her role as a mother and housewife. It’s like they ordered beer, but gets wine. Also tasty, but not what she had ordered. In Syria, the differences between people are much bigger than in the Netherlands. There are very rich people who live in villas like you do not even see in the Netherlands. But there are also people living in a tent. There are women in burqas who do not want to even see their bare hands, but also women in bikinis on the beach in Latakia. Syrians wanted me recently to make clear to me, that for that reason I can not write everything about Syria, all I asked: ‘Where is your mother, your sister and your niece at this time?” In most cases, the answer was not ‘At work’ or ‘In bikini on the beach.” Yes, there are liberated women in Syria that I know. But this group is not commensurate with the number of women sitting at home. If a woman is allowed by her husband to work, it’s usually as a nanny. Maybe I see this also black and white. But, at best, half the women chooses themselves what they are doing, it is equal to zero for me. For the other half, which should not be there.

028 – Soccer

Syria last week was playing football against Qatar. Ahmed my roommate and I were excited. We had pre-cleaned the house, drawn in red, white and black flags, put tea, we were ready. We lost 1-0. Of course, I would say, for all the star players of the team did not participate. Omar Al Soma, the Cristiano Ronaldo of the Arab world, was the most important missing players. There are pictures surfaced of him with flags that show that he is not a fan of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Play soccer in the national team of Syria is no longer an option, unless he publicly demonstrate remorse. Arab ‘FIFA’ has attempted to persuade him to do so, but it failed. As Soma is currently living the life of a king; he is very rich in Saudi Arabia. Since they do not take refugees from Syria, but footballers. Other good players such as Firas Al-Khatib, Sanharib Malki Sabah and Jehad Al Hussain did not count. They would then have to express their support for Assad on TV; that led them a step too far. The day after the game, I complained at my Dutch lesson that our team had lost. Fellow students from Syria responded irritated. “Why do you say ‘our team’? It is the team of Assad, since you do not want to hear that? ” Not only at the highest level policy has been overtaken everywhere, even just by themselves Syrians. Too bad that is. You have to follow suit, choose sides, even in the Netherlands. As a Kurd, I do not belong to the party of Assad, but I am nevertheless not hard to support our national football team. For me it remains a football team, not a political party.

027 – The book

A Dutchman who cooks, I think it’s a funny phenomenon. The young, old, men and women I saw cook here, sniffing out above the pans and sample excludes prepare the food. No, they see it almost as an administrative act. First, a book is packed, or a web page brought out. Being read, after which attributes appear on the kitchen counter as a scale, a measuring cup, a list of ingredients and of course, the book. Thereafter, steps completed. 100 grams of flour and 100 milliliters of water. Ah, here come the attributes handy. All ingredients are weighed precisely and added to the dish in the correct order. Even if I’m going to eat the same dish for the fifth time in a person, is the book open beaten on the counter. With this method of cooking may occur anyway little surprise because everyone cooks meals according to the demands of the book. I think Dutch people like it because it is something that gives structure. It seems to me that you do not really build name ‘administrative cook’ with. In my family and any old neighborhood each has its own specialty. Aunts and neighbors are known for their dishes, which they prepare in their own way. I always see myself ingredients with a lot of what and how I will make it again. Then you eat every day something different and the same recipe tastes different each time. Currently Ahmed’s food and mine are -in the context of integration- lots of potatoes, meat and vegetables. To keep a little bit of their own, we mix it with a lot of herbs.

Dutch Pot with a Syrian twist.

026 – Love

One of the advantages of living in the Netherlands is that I can live in the future with someone who is not Syrian. Girls from Syria are just like Dutch girls, beautiful, cute and smart. The problem is that you never have the girl alone. You get her entire family. You have to take care of her mother, father, brothers, cousins, uncles, well, basically everyone around her. Moreover, the courtship period is very short and you may only see one another (clean) with the parents there. I tried to see my girlfriend secretly in Syria, but I could not. The time we did that we were actually just nervous that someone would see us. A neighbor, an aunt, a distant acquaintance. They should immediately report it to our parents. In the Netherlands, everything is different. You can even have baptised a child in the church without that you’re married. Probably congratulates the official in you also. In Syria would you would be sent away, if an unmarried father or mother comes to report the birth of your child. It has many advantages, all the freedom in the Netherlands. You can try your relationship for years before you get married. Already one time together on holiday for example. Still, I think all these freedoms are also exciting. It means that a woman with whom I want to divorce is also for me the rest of my life. I can see myself sitting, as I much saw sitting in the Netherlands. For television, little zap, a dog beside me on the ground. My children who only come once a month. That picture makes me sad. Little choice as in Syria is not fine, but you know that you care for each other until the end. In the Netherlands, you can choose anything but certainty is lacking. What is better, I do not know.

025 – Funeral

Recently I know that it is possible to use organs from someone who is (almost) deceased. Never known. The idea appeals to me. You can save someone, while you can nothing more. I do wonder how that works. If I’m grieving for a family member seems to me no fun if the body is suddenly removed. we get it completely opened again? What I’m more concerned about making, is my funeral. If I’m going to die my funeral will be arranged through the municipality. I have no money and no family here. But could it be that they do not bury me, but cremated? I know that happens a lot in the Netherlands. I find it strange. People do not like fire, they are afraid of. Why suddenly or make your body into a fire when you’re dead? I thought she did such a thing only in India. I can not imagine that choice, because who wants to disappear? You are then no more. People who loved me could not speak to me in my grave. You can put a bottle with the ashes in your living roome. I see it all for me I’ve got a table in my living room with all bottles with my family in it. One for my mother, one for my father, one for my brother. If I can see it I laugh. That’s impossible. My family in a bottle. Maybe cremate people because it saves money. Because I know now that you have to pay to be in a grave. At least, your next of kin. And after ten years no one pays, you will be removed from the tomb. I would not at all. I love the idea that it is unlikely that I will die in the Netherlands. I prefer above a beautiful funeral in Syria.

024 – Silence from outside

Whenever I call my mother in Aleppo, she’s home. Outside it is unsafe. When they speak, I have to use Syrian first say a few things. I’m glad I’m her son, that I will make her proud, and so on. This week I called her and just when I was working on all those greetings, I heard in the background outside noises. I asked what she was doing. “I sit with the neighbors in the park, in the sun,” she said. I almost fell off my chair in surprise. This was not possible in five years. The cease-fire in force in Syria, perhaps is already over again as this column in the newspaper, is a relief for everyone. If there is an advertising brochure in the bus with an offer. “One week of rest for the price of five years of war!” Even my brother, who dives into home, just went outside. Soldiers are just not as active with the detection of potential soldiers. It seems as if they are tired, tired of the war. My mother told me about the atmosphere. There’s suddenly time to talk with people on the street. It is equally no need to be in back home as soon as possible. Everyone looks around, the buildings are still there, which neighborhoods have been spared? Friends, neighbors and acquaintances are not all been the same. They have become thin from lack of food or have lost their zest for life. Some are very quiet as they used to be nice and busy. The pause is used by residents to assess the damage, to talk, but also to prepare for what is coming. Men climbing the roof to put walls around plates. If then bullets flying through the air, the dishes would not break up and remains in touch with the outside world. While residents catch his breath, his troops engaged in completely different things. I know my country. They use the time to collect ammo to get overview and strategise. So that they can significantly again against it.

023 – House decoration

A garden is only reserved for rich people in Syria Although Syria is 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 a dash 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 living 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 – the floor in the middle of the Dome cleaning 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 running 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.

022 – Germany

I spent a week in Germany. I went to visit my Syrian friend Hadi. It was the first time I as “Dutchman” crossed the border. What a good feeling to wear a Dutch passport with you. If an agent asks for your papers, and he sees a Dutch logo, you get almost immediately back your passport. If he thinks: “Is he from the Netherlands? Then it’s good. ” Every time Hadi wanted to go outside, I looked out my passport and put it in my pocket. It felt like the logo of the Netherlands protected me from everything that could go wrong. I am a person with rights. I do not fleeing police dogs, afraid of being taken to a closed refugee camp. That happened during my first visit to Germany, when I was fleeing from Syria to Netherlands. Although I now confidently bus got off in Hanover, my arrival was different than expected. I wanted to get in immediately and returned to the Netherlands. Everyone spoke Arabic and begging everywhere Syrians on the street. Hadi took me to the place Salzgitter. I ended up in districts where no German was in sight. Although I was shocked first, I felt later suddenly good at seeing so many Syrians. It means that they are not in the war. The more I looked, the happier I became. They are all here and alive! I do not sound so nice German and Dutch. According to Hadi Dutch sounds exactly like German. Yes, we began to compare. In Germany the cars better, we thought. “But we have WiFi on the train,” I said proudly. He laughed. “Sir is also a year in the Netherlands, with your ‘we’.” On the way back on the bus, I looked out the window. Suddenly the landscape changed. The weather was beautiful, clean and green. Netherlands I recognized immediately as my own.

021  – City hall

Because of the severe shortage of food in Aleppo is the available food is incredibly expensive. I want to send my parents money so they have to eat anyway, but that is not so easy. Syrians do not have a bank account. ATM’s do not exist there. On the first day of the month running Syrians with a pocket full of their work home. The salary is inside. A monthly wage means a large pile of banknotes, because the Syrian pound is worth little. It’s quite exciting to save money in your home. Hence, many women hang out there full of gold. The gold is not necessarily buy because they like it but because it is a way to save money on your body. I’m going to send my family money via a Syrian family in Germany. They have a business in Syria and can arrange that the money gets to my parents. In order to travel to Germany, I applied for a refugee passport. I had to make an appointment via the internet at the town hall in Arnhem. Once there knew an employee with a single click everything about me. I thought back to the time I applied for a passport in Syria, it took me a day. An employee of the government sent me to a room with thousands of books. “Find yourself but in one of these books, I’m not going to do for you,” he said. I enlisted help from a friend, who then looked at pictures of girls from the city and wrote down their phone numbers instead of to trace my name. In the Netherlands I have fairly long wait to get my passport in the end, but fortunately I do not have to search among 154,000 Arnhem people.

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