All 8 entries tagged Instant Autobio

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November 03, 2006


Red Autumn Leaves
Het hangt in de lucht als ik de deur van het appartement achter me sluit, en ik, over de heuvelrug lopend, de bergtoppen in de verte zie. Er is iets met de lucht, hij is dunner dan normaal, verser. Met mijn laptop op mijn rug en mijn boeken in mijn hand daal ik de heuvel af, op weg naar het centrale deel van de campus. Overal liggen gekleurde bladeren op de stoepen, er hangen geuren in de lucht en kleuren in de bomen die de campus direct een intellectueel uiterlijk geven, me in een poëtische stemming brengen. Hoe doen campussen dat toch? Die met bladeren bestrooide paadjes waar je net langs moet, onder vochtige bomen door, de eerste passanten die een sjaal (maar geen jas) dragen.
Placa Espanya
Op de campus is het bedrijvig en toch kalm. Een enkeling ligt rustig in het gras een boek te lezen – de luxe van een warme herfst -, kletsende meisjes met studentikoze truien en eekhoorntjeshaar passeren mij, op weg naar het campusrestaurant. Waar weer andere jongens zitten te kaarten en jointjes te roken; een vredige vrijdagmiddag op de universiteit.
En als ik enkele uren later in het schrikwekkende vroege donker terug naar huis loop, denk ik terug aan een reis die ik een paar jaar geleden rond deze tijd maakte, naar een plek enkele uren hier vandaan, aan de andere kant van de Pyreneeën.
Pyreneeën luchtfoto Hetzelfde verademende gevoel, dezelfde geuren en hetzelfde aangename rillingen-gevende buitenluchtgevoel dringen bij me naar binnen. Ik weet: ik moet naar de bergen, nog voordat de laatste bladeren vallen. En het zal gebeuren ook.

October 22, 2006

Whatever, It's Tasty

Arena City in KievIt is one at night, and we are sitting in the office of a Kiev production company. Listening to Ukranian bands (for example Esthetic Education) or English music (Oceansize), and recapturing memories (Sziget festival in Budapest last summer) with some old photos.

Gosha shows me a commercial he’s been working on just for fun. A whole bunch of dogs and barking, then the slogan: “Whatever, It’s Tasty”. Legendary. And one commercial that the office produced, one he acted in. (Was it djuice?) Two guys come around their friend’s house and present him with a gift, a comb. Unfortunately the guy has no hair.

Then we leave the office to go into the city, one last time. I fly out at 9 the next morning. So we buy wodka (honey lemon taste), sit down on the square of Arena City, where we seem to join a whole club of other alcoholics. It’s already two a.m., wtf?! I thought it was 11 or something. As we try to get the mentally security-locked bottle open, my love begs me not to drink too much. We take a sip of wodka, then juice, intertwined.

Gosha and my love look at me with amazement. “You drink wodka like we drink beer.” I nod and smile, not even so proud. “Polish blood”, I explain, “in Warsaw, wodka flows from the taps.” And I kiss my love, another million kisses to come that last night.

September 17, 2006

The Trick with the Leg

The strangest thing happened to me last night while going out. I got robbed of my wallet, and a minute later it was handed back to me! ¡Que raro!

Saturday night on Las Ramblas, the Oxford Street or Leidsestraat of Barcelona. A couple of friends are waiting for me while I go to do my thing in a quiet corner (when I come to think of it, I seem to write about this repeatedly…err…). A guy comes up to me, asking “Quieres cerveza, do you want beer?” This is quite common in the city centre, there are always many mainly Pakistanis selling “five beers for six euros”. This guy seems Spanish though.

Either way, I thank him and want to walk on. But he extends his hand as if to say, “no worries pal”, a gestures which also doesn’t seem very harmful so I cheerfully shake his hand. But then he does The Trick with the Leg. While shaking my hand, he shakes my legs with on of his, which puts me off guard for just a split second. Coins roll over the street, and it takes just one second more for me to feel that my back pocket is empty. Stupid, I shouldn’t have put it there to begin with.

Just seconds after The Trick with the Leg I walk back intent to find the guy and get my wallet back. And practically the same moment he stands in front of me, gives it back and walks away. There was only a ten-euro note in there, was it not enough?

It all took less than a minute, and I still don’t really understand what happened just there. Was it him who took my wallet out, or another guy working with him? Why did he bother to return my wallet? Did he just want to teach me lesson or were his intentions less noble (which in fact seems more logical to me). Who but him can know? I’m happy enough my wallet is back with everything still in it. And more on my guard, from now on.

September 15, 2006

First night bus in Barcelona

Nitbus en la Plaza de CatalunyaComing to a new city, every single thing you do for the first time seems terrific and exciting. Indeed, also taking the night bus.

In Barcelona, these are called nitbus, and they are my saviour for a middle-long night of partying in the city, which here means, until, for example 3 am. Remember that I live quite a while outside the city (35 mins. by local train) so a chance of taking a metro is small at these early hours. When I stumble out of the disco place where I just went to a great & cheezy Erasmus night for all of Barcelona (and that means quite a number of exchange students), I soon discover, with the help of a friendly Barcelonian who even reads the bus times for me, that this bus goes each hour.

I´m half an hour early but that´s no problem. Time to discover a silent greenery in the shadow to do my thing; I discover one conveniently close to my busstand which is likely to get visited by me more often in the coming months! On the bus, I try to use my 10-ride card. But the driver-assistant (yes, this bus driver has an assistant!) tells me off since the uni is just out of the city zone. Of course I know this, but a stupid guirí smile and a perdón with a Dutch/British accent saves me. “No pase nada”, the guy tells me, “Don´t worry about it.”

I fall asleep on the bus, a few times. We go inland, over the hills that enclose the city, through Cerdanyola, the suburb where my uni is. Within 45 mins. I´m home. I actually fail to get off at the right place, which results in another short lecture from the assistant guy, but I´m happy enough to go to bed. It is 5 am, and classes start at 10. Tranquilo, no pase nada.

May 12, 2006

The Bee–Side

Every week the days become warmer. The sun allows its rays to make longer hours on earth, filling every corner with radiant light. The tree behind our house has suddenly turned from a meagre stick into a voluptuous extravaganza of juicy, fresh leaves, evidence of a pending summer through the little high window in our living room.

Clemens StreetInside the house it is cool and shimmering. As in a mediterranean house in one of those tranquil countryside towns, our house dwells in a peaceful street, letting the spring in with its bright blue and smooth breeze.

My room is on the backside of the house. Sat behind my laptop, I try to get some words up on the screen. I type, think, drift off. A big fat bee comes zooming in through the open window. It flies its flight of discovery through my room, then dwells a bit, seemingly hesitant whether to leave the building into the wide spring skies, rooftops with orange panes; buzzing between various sorts of wild grasses appearing in unattended backgardens. Gently, I help it to find the way out of the window. I respect bees, they can only sting once in their life – they need to face the consequences of their one great deed. Plus they’ve got nice fur.

Now the streetside of the house is a different story. My housemate finds himself in a constant struggle to fight the flies out of the room. Flies have a nervous, manic nature. Their skin is harder, uglier, more functional. As in compulsion they maintain an imperfect circle around the lamp that hangs in the middle of my housemate’s room. Their paranoid mania prevents them from ever flying anything slower than TGV speed, never flying straight longer than a split second.

They have reason to be stressed out. My housemate jokingly confided me that if my side of the house is the Bee-side, than his must be the A-side. Today, one of his flies found its way to my room. With a newspaper, I pursued it, until, by some strange fortune, I managed to racket it against the window. I fell straight down.

Throwing the fly out (“And don’t you come back!”), I gazed out over the wasteland of back alleys and dirty gardens. Only then I noticed that a building was gone. Just, gone. It must have been levelled to the ground within a day. We now have new neigbours, I guess. I sighed; too much for one day. The only place I wanted to be on now was the seaside.

April 21, 2006


Enkele dagen geleden stond ik ineens oog in oog met de jongen die bij ons aan het inbreken was.

Na wat gerommel te hebben gehoord op de benedenverdieping, die bij ons alleen twee deuren, een gang en een badkamer telt, begaven mijn huisgenoot en ik ons naar beneden. Daar was een dichtgetimmerde deur opengebroken en glipte en een gluiperd net de hoek om in de veronderstelling dat we hem niet gezien had. Helaas voor hem was dit een dode hoek van de tuin.

Mijn huisgenoot: Kan je ons misschien vertellen wat je aan het doen was?
Ik: Wat vreemd. Zit hij gewoon daarachter? Wie is het dan?
Huisgenoot: Eh, ja, en hij heeft een plank uit de deur geslagen. Geen idee wie het is, de buurman ofzo.

(Tot onze verbazing toont ineens een slonzige en gluiperige figuur zijn gezicht van om de hoek, wallen staan om zijn ogen en hij lijkt een beetje zenuwachtig.)

Inbreker (op zachte, verontschuldigende toon): Oh, sorry man. Ik zocht alleen maar een plekje om te slapen.
Wij (kijken elkaar aan): Eh, nou ja, wij wonen hier al.
Inbreker: Ja, sorry man, het spijt me echt. Zal ik de plank er weer op doen?
Wij: Nee, laat maar. Wij doen het wel.
Inbreker: Komt de politie eraan?
Wij: Nee.
Inbreker: Het spijt me echt. Dan ga ik maar weer.
(* Wij blijven perplex achter. *)

Ik weet nog steeds niet goed wat ik ervan denken moet. De huisbaas is later gekomen, schold de Leamington junks voor van alles en nog wat uit en timmerde de deur extra stevig dicht (plank voor de plek waar eens een raampje zat). Een ding zou ik anders gedaan hebben als het me nu was overkomen: ik zou hem een kopje thee aangeboden hebben.

June 02, 2005

Instant Autobio: Busy Days

The last few days have been marked by much craze around my head. Today was the first day (out of two) of exams for me. In the running up to Thursday, I was occupied with preparatory work and revision for my exams on Making of the Modern World (history) and Sociological Imagination and Investigation (guess).

Simultaneously, I was distracted by the grand events taking place on the dry mainland of our continent. After a hard day’s revision in the library on Sunday, I came home to hear that the French had defeated the European constitution by a majority of fifty-odd percent. Quite happy with this news (as by now I’m a convinced anti) I speculated that there would be no turning point for Holland either, on the first of June. And I proved to be right, only more right than I had predicted myself. A defeat of some 61% came as quite a surprise to me, from the flexible, Euro-oriented Dutch. Yet the feeling of discontent and love of independent freedom was quite likely to have contributed to the Dutch “nee”.

In a good mood, I decided to go to the Graduate yesterday, for a pint. Sharliza was around too, and asked me to drum a song for her. So, I found myself playing the drums to an accoustic version of her punkrock “I Feel Great” and Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees”. Very unprepared, yet a nice feeling to be able to climb on the stage with relative ease again, after a long period of making no music at all. Les and Sharliza are having me as their band’s drummer now, which for me, as a guitarist, is quite a relaxing and unworied position to find myself in. Panama, the band I’m in with Tommy (Rootes), James and Sun Ho(Whitefields) seems to be getting some shape as well. We have a first gig planned for week 10. I know, it’s kinda late to get started, but considering I’ve only started singing this term, I think it’s not that bad at all. Our repetoire consists of around 10 (some unfinished) songs, and a few more ideas. Tommy and me are well inspired lately, which feels great. Our track list consists at the moment of:

Coming Round Again (kind of melodious punk-rocky song)
Shake & Stir & Rattle (alternative pop with a melancholy yet powerful undertone)
Nocturnal (at the mo apparently James’ favourite)
Tommy Jam (pretty ska-funky)

Possible Ace of Base, Muse and Soulwax covers might be added to this, as well as a few more songs once they’re finished.

May 27, 2005

Hot day: instant autobiography

With a sigh I grab the roll, peel out another chocolate biscuit, sigh deeply again. It’s a hot day today, and even though I’m sitting at my desk, probably relatively the house’s coolest space, I can’t focus because of it. I spend the whole day reading Wahrman’s views on the construction of the English middle class around the 1820s-30s.

But I read slowly, extremely slowly with regular intervals of distraction: the guitar behind me, the Groene Amsterdammer (Green Amsterdammer, a Dutch opinion magazine) right beside the “Gender, Class and Empire” module core texts – with much more interesting and up-to-date debate: much on what the Netherlands is going to do in five days: ditch the European constitution (most likely) or accept it? And, of course, the internet, our time’s greatest chaos and biggest distractor. On a day like this, I can check my email over five times a day, up to ten. Today, I receive the happy news that my brother has finally met all requirements of his masters course of law, so that nothing stands in the way of his official appointment as a master in law. Soon, he’ll be heading over to Bolivia, to do volunteering work at an NGO in Riberalta (see also my Campesinos project page, although it’s no longer updated). Oh, plus, I book a flight for my dad to come in and help me move out the last days of this term. Flying directly from Amsterdam to Coventry. It’s one of these feats ascribed to the globalised world.

At four James, Thomas and me go for a jog in the burning sun. Some flatmates and neighbours sit outside in the sun, but Thom’s picked up the crazy idea of improving our 25-minutes record (on an approximate 5 km) down to 20 minutes. Why now, why today? I haven’t jogged for around, maybe over a week. That record’s not gonna happen. And indeed I’m dead exhausted by the first turn already. It’s so hot! And running in the baking sun is something you have to let your body get used to gradually. Not for J + T… they sprint off and actually nearly manage to make it within 20 minutes too (as I later hear, they disappear from my sight pretty much immediately). Back at the flat I empty a glass of water over my head and chill out in the grass, 25 mins again, perhaps. Not too bad for this weather.

I read a bit more, eat my summer spaghetti meal outside in the ever-continuously radiating sun, and sit down to read a bit more around 19.30 – a painstaking process. I think it’s been enough for today – probably heading over to the Graduate soon for a regular quiet pint night.

July 2020

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