Monthly Archives: October 2014

My Reading List

A while back my man thought of a reading revolution where I would read books written by authors from different countries – from as far west as Columbia to as far east as Japan. I don’t know why he was the one who thought of it but I were the one who would do it. Anyway, I started with One Hundred Years of Solitude by Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez.  Then I got side tracked by A Game of Thrones, which I did not regret at all because they were just too good. Now I feel like it is the time to get back to the project and put it down on paper. So here are what I have read/been reading since early 2014: 1. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez (Columbia, language of the original copy: Portuguese) 2. The Goldfinch, Donna Tartte (USA, language of the original copy: English) 3. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho (Brazil, language of the original copy: Portuguese) 4. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, Jonas Jonasson (Sweden, language of the original copy: Swedish) 5. Norwegian Wood,Haruki Murakami (Japan, language of the original copy: Japanese) And these are some in the queue: The Diary of A Young Girl, Anne Frank (Netherlands, language of original copy: Dutch) – I just got the original copy on ebook because I hope one day I will be able to read this title in Dutch The Girl on the Fridge, Etgar Keret (Israel, language of the original copy: Hebrew) Down the Rabbit Hole, Juan Pablo Villalobos (Mexico, language of original copy: Spanish) The Colour of Magic (Discworld, #1), Terry Pratchett (England, language of the original copy: English) How to Fall in Love, Cecelia Ahern (Ireland, originallylanguage of the original copy: English) …

Amsterdam: one year on

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So I have been living in Amsterdam for a full year. It is long enough for me to get over some culture shocks like this one: Somebody told me that the grilled spicy chicken drumstick (that I was eating) looked disgusting so they rather stuck  to the usual boterhammen (two slices of bread, one slice of ham, one slice of yellow cheese) as they had yesterday and the day before that and so on…

The Dutch are normally quite short (verbally). While the English northerners that I know would use five extra words and three ah, uhm, well to hint that they are not crazily in love with something you offer them, the Dutch just don’t.

And they love sandwiches. Full stop. When I told a friend of mine, who is teaching me Dutch, that I don’t like eating bread, her reaction was like: “ But you are learning Dutch, you should like bread”. With what I learn in the last year, it actually makes sense.

I still do not like eating bread, but I started to get a grip on the language. I began to understand gossips around lunch table, or held a short conversation using only one or two English words here and there. Others still laugh at me speaking Dutch with my English accent, but I passed caring. Maybe it is time for them to get over it too because my accent is adorable, even without some surprising British-like sounds 😀

I joined the not-a-tourist club when I bought my own bike. I felt in love with cycling in Amsterdam straight away: the sense of freedom, the amazing view over canals, the breeze touching my sweaty back. I stubbornly cycled to work most days regardless that it was dark, cold and rainy more often than not. I dinged mindless tourists loudly when they wandered into my bike lane. I feel like I belong.

Early bird

They say early bird gets the worm. I get peacefulness going to work three hours early than most people. There is hardly any lunatic scooters whizzing past you so fast that makes you wobble. And if there is, they normally take the car lane because there is no cars either. I have the little red bike lanes for myself or maybe some paper men. I sing Emmylou out loud when I am not out of breath climbing up bridges. I can jump one or two redlights. Well, maybe five.

Then I arrive at work, get settled in a corner to watch the sun slowly coming up over still water of the canal outside. I love watching the first light of dawn and soaking in stillness before the day gets too busy. I have nice caring chats with colleagues before we all have to move around frenetically burying our heads in worries, stress and frustration.

Getting up at ungodly hour is hard. The Dutch strong wind and cold rain make it much harder on the bike. But still most days I get out of bed the first time my alarm goes off, quickly put on my bomber jacket, hat and gloves or whatever else keeping me warm, and set out regardless. Because I know a fresh start of a day is worth the efforts and a lot more.