“Our marriage is based on a lie,” my mother always says.
“Hey, you still have the plastic around your fridge,” I told a Syrian friend I was visiting. “Yes, for my future wife,” he answered. I knew what he meant. He is still single, but if he ever gets married, he has to show his future wife new furniture. It is a thing from our culture. The man takes care of the house and the furnishings, the woman comes to inspect everything, even before the wedding. My parents still talk about that period of their lives on a daily basis. “Our marriage is based on a lie,” my mother always says.
When she visited my father’s house, before the wedding, there were beautiful furniture, kitchen appliances and a radio. She approved it. A few days after the wedding party, my mother’s family left for her native village. My mother started her new life with my father in Aleppo. The neighbors came to congratulate her. After the congratulation, they took a piece of furniture or other object in the house and left. My father, that smart guy, had borrowed the most beautiful things in the entire neighborhood to persuade my mother. As a poor man, he did not have much to offer himself. After the wedding, all those borrowed items were collected. My father is still laughing in his chair when he tells this. My mother harasses him that she should have known by then what kind of meat she had in the tub. “I should have left you, but I am so stupid that I stayed,” she always says with a smile.
If you want a Syrian woman, you better leave the plastic around the fridge. Then, even after ten years, it still looks as good as new.
A party full of drugs in this watertight country full of rules, how is that possible?
I had a party. One that you would think took place in Cuba. Between drug bosses, traders and other top criminals. In reality it was a student party in Arnhem. Upon arrival I could choose: pay 5 euros for an evening with drinks, or pay 15 euros for an evening with drinks and drugs. All kinds of drugs were displayed on the table. I received a complicated explanation. All kinds of powders that had a different name and effect. I was shocked. I already knew in Syria that the Netherlands is known as a drug country, but drugs at a student party? What a chaos.
The party looked like a scene from an action movie. Drugs on the table, half-naked women and lots of drinks. Every moment I was expecting the police who, with my Arabic accent, would take me away. I quickly looked into my phone. Was the invitation to the party still in my WhatsApp? With that I could at least prove that I was not the organizer of this spectacle. It just kept going through my mind. If even students have and use this stuff, then anyone in the Netherlands can easily get it. In this watertight country full of rules. How is that possible? Is the government turning a blind eye?
I think freedom in the Netherlands is beautiful, but does it also mean that people are allowed to know for themselves whether they are breaking? Is it good to wait for people to report homeless and addicted to the municipality for benefits? As a government I would promote freedom, but above that: safety and health. Simply because is involved.
Our integration system only works for the language schools: they get rich asleep.
Happy! From 2021, newcomers will no longer be in control of their integration. The municipalities are taking over. It is high time, because the integration of many refugees runs into the hundred. Everyone with a residence status now receives a maximum of 10,000 euros from DUO, and must complete a language course within three years. Is that not possible? Then you pay back the borrowed money. The latter is now the case. For many newcomers, the three years have passed, while there is no diploma. So they now have a debt.
The system only works for the commercial language schools: they get rich asleep. Furthermore, it works for nobody. The newcomers do not feel any guilt that is hanging over their heads. It’s not for nothing that there is a queue at the ATM every month, because Syrians want to have their money in their hands. It must be tangible, otherwise it is not there. A debt that only exists on paper, or that can only be viewed through a complicated system with a DigiD login code, is not a debt for many people. It is not tangible.
Of course, newcomers would also have to complete their studies on time without that imminent debt. Appointment is really an appointment here. We newcomers have to get used to it and make mistakes.
A Syrian friend went to visit relatives in Austria. He had not seen them for years. Despite this, the Austrian Syrians simply left for school in the morning and left their Dutch guests home alone. That’s where the deal is: every school day that has been missed is a 40 euro deduction from your allowance. See, that is tangible. That works! I hope that municipalities will think about that when they are in control. Comprehensible and tangible agreements.
Anwar meets the animal ambulance: “Two large men with special clothes”
I step out the door, on my way to the supermarket in Arnheim Presikhaaf. On the sidewalk my neighbor is sitting on her knees. I walk over to her to ask what is going on. Then I see what she’s doing, she’s bent over with a cat. She talks to the animal. With a pathetic voice, as if she has a lot of compassion. The cat has wounds on its body, I see now. It is such a sad face, the woman and the injured cat, I would almost shed a tear. My neighbor picks up her phone and calls someone. She says what’s going on and gives us our address. Then she walks the cat to her house.
I went on to the supermarket to do my shopping. When I returned there was a big car in front of her house. “Animal ambulance” stood on the side. Two large men with special clothes got into the car, with the cat and a large bag in which they transported the poor beast.
I was reminded of my friend Basel when he was sick. We had to pass on all his details, look for a pass and come up with a pathetic story to convince the GP that he was really ill and needed help. We were hours later when a doctor finally looked at him. Looking at the sick cat, who was picked up within the time of a supermarket visit at home, I thought I would take a different approach next time. The Dutch believe in the theory of evolution. Humans and monkeys are almost equal and descend from each other. The next time I have a sick friend, I call the animal ambulance. ,, I have a very smart monkey here, who doesn’t feel well. Can you come quickly? “