0503-Anwar’s columns

Dutch and congratulations? ‘I do not get it’

Get well soon! Happy Birthday! Happy New Year! Merry Christmas! The Netherlands has a standard wish for every event. Arabic has a lot of words. You always have to say something different. Especially if you wish someone something. Then it must be personal and poetic. When my mother is ill, I come up with a story. “A bird flies high from the sky, lands on your shoulders, sings a song for you, and wishes all bad things to stay far away from your heart.” This story has to rhyme and be thought up especially for her. You may not arrive with a standard verse.
If you wish someone a good New Year, the story must be focused on his or her life. You can not wish the same every year, because every year is different. You have to take into account the bond you have and quote examples of nice or emotional things that you have experienced together. With astonishment, I see on Facebook that sick Dutch people get typed a hundred times ‘get well’ in their timeline. The crazy thing is, the sick person also feels strengthened. “Thank you for your kind comments!”, You read. Just like olds, who after a hundred messages with only the text ‘congratulations’ feel ‘a huge anniversary of all your messages’. I do not understand it, but my Dutch friend Gijs came up with a logical explanation. “Anwar, you know how Dutch people are,” he said. ,, We love rules and structure. It’s nice to know what you have to say at what time. And it is also easy, with few words ready quickly! “Oh well, he’s right. And I do not know many Dutch words at all.

Happy holidays all!

Take shelter

When I see pictures of how Syria used to be before the war, I remember how beautiful green it was. In Aleppo there was a beautiful park with large trees. In spring and summer, people sat in the shade eating or playing cards, while their children rolled through the grass and played. Musicians played music and all kinds of food were sold. In the fall and winter people used the park to shelter from the rain. The leaves were so thick that the raindrops barely got through. Even in bad weather, the park was full of families and friends, who shared appointments and whole days with each other in nature. Everything has changed since the war. Parts of families have been killed or fled. The people who are left out do not dare to go outside anymore. The park is no longer safe. The large trees that once adorned the park were used to light the stoves in the houses. The trees that have not been burned are cut out as a precaution, to prevent sharp shooters in the middle of the city from hiding. When I walk through Sonsbeek in Arnhem, I see how strong and beautiful nature is. Then I keep hoping. Hope that plants do not care about war, snipers and safety. Hope that new trees will struggle through the debris and make new parks. Parks where families can eat in the shade and maps and where children can roll and play through the grass. Parks where the trees are so beautiful and so big that you can not only shelter from the rain, but also before the war.

Being smart does not pay off in politics.

I like to watch the NPO Politics channel. I learn words and try to discover what they say about ‘us’, the refugees. I still hope that legislation will be put in place that will allow me, for example, to bring my parents to the Netherlands. I also follow Syrian politics from here. The difference with the Netherlands is huge. I noticed during the debates in the Dutch House of Representatives that politicians in the Netherlands are smart. They have good arguments, think carefully and use difficult words. It works the other way around in Syria. People who are smart have little power. And you usually do not see them back in the government. The smartest among us are the doctors and the technicians. They are never the boss, because they are controlled by people who have studied something lager, such as business economics. The Syrian police officers and soldiers come a little lower. No studies, but people with more power and influence than the business economists, doctors and technicians together. Then we reach the very lowest step: the unskilled farmers. They have the most powerful power. The president has a famous statement: ‘The earth is for the farmer who works on it’. That is why 40 percent of the government consists of farmers. That is easy for President Bashar al-Assad. These unskilled workers can not read in most cases, do not ask critical questions and raise their hands in a vote at times when the president wants it. If you look at it like this, the president is the smartest.

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