The Dutch talk via the computer or via their telephone

I think I would enjoy it very well in a retirement home in the Netherlands. Men and women who are not digital, but only used to talking in real life. In Syria the world is not yet digital, so three years ago I arrived at the digital knowledge level of a 90-year-old Dutch man in the Netherlands. I have learned a lot over the past three years and in that sense I have been reasonably adapted. For example, I have an e-mail address, which I now regularly look into. That must be the case, otherwise people and organizations will get angry. I see benefits, but as far as I am concerned, digitization in the Netherlands has gone wrong. When I come to a teacher with a question, I get the answer: “Put your question on the mail.” “I do not understand that. We are already facing each other? And a teacher is there anyway to explain? When I joined a lawyer last week with a question about my residence permit, I received an answer: “I do not understand your question so well now so just put it on the mail.” “So it is even more difficult for me to express me understandably. Calling, that is apparently also old-fashioned for years. People I ask if I can call them, answer: “No.” “They only want to talk via the mail or app. Calling, they find that such a hassle. I understand better and better why people in the Netherlands are so quiet when they are on the bus for example. Talking to other people is rare. The Dutch talk via the computer or via their telephone, so live contact becomes increasingly difficult. I think I just register with a retirement home in the neighborhood. Then I write a note on my date of birth that I am mentally about sixty years old.

A teacher running past in bright yellow and purple sports clothes: “That is not possible!”

I walked around Arnhem with a group of friends when I suddenly saw a teacher running past us. He was wearing sports clothes with bright yellow and purple colors. It was also so tight that you could draw out his body shapes precisely. I burst out laughing and said to my friends: “Then watch our teacher. That is not possible! “My classmates understood little of it. ,,How so ? He is just a human being. One who wants to run for a minute. “I thought it was a nice reaction. Indeed, a teacher is simply a function. And that function apparently leaves a teacher in the Netherlands behind at school, only to be himself again. Like the teacher I met at a party in the city. She danced in glitter clothes and with a drink in her hand. She felt very comfortable, I no longer at the sight of her. A teacher in the neighborhood still feels like control, as if I have to keep me tidy. A teacher has a great deal of prestige in Syria. That includes respectable behavior, everywhere. As inspiration for the students and symbol of the university. You can still love dancing or running, but that can not be combined with a position as a teacher. In the Netherlands, the identity of a teacher and a private individual is so strictly separated that you can sometimes see it literally. I was in the parking lot of the HAN when I saw a tough motorcyclist arrive. I watched curiously which rugged student would appear under the helmet. “Hi Anwar,” said my mechanic teacher when the helmet went off. I was shocked. He put down his motorbike, took off his suit and walked in as a neat teacher.

‘I would like to start again in the Netherlands, without flags’

In the Netherlands a flag is a beautiful symbol. The tricolor is used when it is party, when we ask for respect or when we are proud. I do not like flags anymore since the war in Syria. Syria has three. One that belongs to President Assad, one for the Kurds and one for the rebels. The ‘Assadvlag’ is actually just the national Syrian flag, but because he has long been the boss in the country, it is now associated with him. I shared a reminder on Facebook from my first year at the university in Aleppo. You see me with a few friends, smiling at the camera. Behind us you can see the national flag of Syria. The rumor stream starts immediately after such a photo. “See, he belongs to Assad!” I had not thought about it for a moment. Countrymen still know that this flag hangs everywhere in public Syrian buildings? Syrians in the Netherlands share each other in a box. We want to know from each other on which side we were when we were there. ,, Are you going to demonstrate against the war in Syria? ”, Acquaintances asked me. I asked only one question: “Is there a flag?” “Photos of them continue to roam. And then I sit there, in the ‘rebel’, ‘Kurd’, or ‘Assad-trailer’ box. We all have pain from the war. We blame each other for the loss of our loved ones. When I am photographed with an ‘Assadvlag’, it touches people who have lost a relative through the army of the president. If I start demonstrating with a rebel or Kurdish flag, it will hurt victims of rebels and Kurds. I would like to start again in the Netherlands, without flags, and with a joint pain that is simply called ‘war’.

Music without words is a language that everyone speaks

A large orchestra with a conductor who plays music from Beethoven, I only knew that from YouTube. I saw it for the first time live, when I attended a concert of Het Gelders Orkest last month. The conductor made it a spectacle. He hastened to the stage with flapping hair, as if he were too late for a lesson. He turned to the audience and made a quick bow. As if there was no time to waste, he set the orchestra to work, with wild gestures and hair that flew in all directions. The orchestra members did not watch the conductor. I’ve paid attention to their eyes. Later when I spoke to the musicians, I asked them: “Just be honest, you do not need that conductor anyway? Nobody looks at him! “The musicians laughed. ,, He is the boss of the orchestra. He determines the tempo and the music sounds the way he wants it, “they said. In Syria, music is more of a hobby than a job. If you want to follow a study, you do not have to rely on enthusiasm from your environment. If I were to say, “Daddy, I’m going to the conservatory,” he would answer, “What? Everyone can sing, Anwar, you can hear: lalala. You do not have to go to school there. “Although I do not want to neglect the singing skills of my father, I saw that the musicians of Het Gelders Orkest have learned a bit more about their education. And how nice that it was an evening with only music. No speeches. In Damascus we have ‘The Opera’, but it is often combined with a political meeting. Music without words. I love it because it is not politics. It is a language that everyone speaks.

Ugly Duckling

Around the turn of the year, people often look backwards and forwards. I do not do the latter. I am not a planner, I often do not even know what I will do the next day, let alone the coming year. Looking back gives me a great feeling this year, because I have reached many milestones. I passed the state exam at level B2 this year, I finished my HBO propaedeutic phase at one point, I found a job in a supermarket and I became the replacement branch manager within three months. It all says nothing about how I felt throughout the year, but it is still nice to take steps in my Dutch life. The strange thing is that those steps feel very uncertain. As if I were building my future on a piece of dough that wobbles in all directions. That dough is my residence permit. In two years I can apply for a Dutch nationality. My residence permit feels like the ugly duckling under your beautiful red passports. At school, in the train, at the bank or the municipality, wherever I have to take the pass, people raise their eyebrows. It has a different color. People who I show the tone face a difficult face, until they see: ‘Temporary residence permit’. That moment is always annoying. I’m afraid the other person reads and thinks: oh a refugee. So be careful. What does not help is that on Facebook messages circulate among Syrians with the news that we eventually have to leave the Netherlands. I can not figure out if they are real messages, but I get nervous about them. I am building something here, and I can only hope that I can keep my building.