Many Dutch people have an extra room in their house. There is a lot of food. A kind of mini-Albert Heijn in back home. I once asked my Dutch host family where I lived for a while: “Do you know what you have there?” No, they actually did not know exactly. It looks like a room with an emergency supply, for when the war breaks out. In this extra room, many tools also hang out with a variety of hooks and protrusions. The first time I entered such a space, I thought I had discovered the dark side of the Dutch. A torture room, just at the back of the house! It looks scary. Meanwhile, I know that those items and devices are used to work in the garden. Because Dutch, they want to keep their garden tidy. No meadow with fruit trees, as I’m used to from Syria, but a garden that can be drawn by way of speaking. Every centimeter has been considered. I once thought that it was the municipalities in the Netherlands who are so precise and tidy to keep nature, but also the residents of the Netherlands like to do it. When I was taken by Dutchmen to the Intratuin, half the country turned out to be there. Logical too, because at the primary school in Aleppo, I learned that the Netherlands is the country of cheese, milk and flowers. I noticed that the contact with your neighbors depends to a large extent on your garden. My housemate Achmed and I have done nothing in our garden in Arnhem Presikhaaf for months. When we did that recently, the whole street went out. Neighbors greeted us and shared compliments. I think they think it’s important to do that more often.

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