Sunday, 3 August 2008

Week 1

Well that’s the 1st week over and done with, in 7 days I’ve actually achieved less than I wanted to, but probably more than I thought I could do.
The carpet is down, the decorating is well under way, the kitchen is stocked, I have a bed to sleep on and a comfy sofa to sit on, I own a mean machine bicycle to do the shopping on, lights and curtains are up and I have some TV and radio to entertain me in the evenings.. A mobile phone for Dutch calls, and a home phone line and internet on order. Washing machine in place and cleaning clothes as I type, and a new iron sat in its box waiting for someone to teach me how to use it… All is slowly taking shape.

The fancy wallpaper gadget wasn’t really as useful as expected…Somehow you knew it would be didn’t you? It was ok, but it spread the paste very unevenly so I have quite a number of bumpy bits in the 1st couple of strips…but once dry they should smooth out. I discovered if you didn’t keep it topped up constantly it got patchy, but that resulted in a lot of wastage of paste, so I’m only really setting it at the minimum level now and touching up with a bit of brush pasting the old fashioned way.

I even worked out how to get the light switches off…the rocker switches pop off revealing a rubber seal that you remove to take the unit off the wall…quite neat

Pretty good going, and though the flat is still a bit disorganised with a bed in the lounge which will go back in the bedroom tonight when the paper is fully dry, it is starting to look and feel like home…One dissapiointment is that when I went to buy the lounge wallpaper, they only had 6 rolls from the same batch available, and I need 8. I know from past experience that getting paper from different batches never works out, so they are going to order a new load of rolls but they won’t be here till Friday. Ah well not to worry, I can have a bit of a relax this week and do a bit of window shopping for stuff, The next round of furniture buying will top things off nicely.

Learning Dutch isn’t going as well as I expected though, every time I try to say something I get puzzled looks, or worse.
I have to work out the difference between that ghhrrr sound and the ghhhrr sound…apparently it can make the whole context of a sentence totally different…like

“Hi, where can I find a WiFi Hot spot”,
becomes “
Your mother is a porcupine and I’ve had her”.


It’s all a bit confusing.

Ah yes..I can’t close off without commenting on my first disappointment in Holland. Racism rears its ugly head…I’m hoping it’s just a lack of communication skills but this did bother me.

During my last update, I got shoo-ed off the platform steps where I was hooked up to the WiFi signal at the station since a train was on the way and the platform guard wanted the steps cleared.. So I had to move 10 yards away to a bus shelter where I could still get a signal.
There, 2 young Dutch lads at the stop. noticed me using my laptop and said some to me in Dutch to attract my attention. When I gave them my best “Sorry Spreekt u Engels”, which fortunately has nothing to do with mothers or porcupines, they were a bit lost though and tried to translate their warning.

It came out something like, “Is not good you sit with that there, here is bad place, too many blacks y’know, they rob.”

Ouch….yes its true there are a lot of apparently homeless immigrants who hang around the station and show signs of sleeping rough, most are African it seems, or from the Dutch Antilles, and clearly some degree of lawlessness and begging is going on if you stop and watch. But probably no more than in most other large train stations. I’ve ever been, I mean have you ever stood and watched what goes on at Euston or Kings Cross.

I felt quite sad that this seemed to be a stereotypical example of racism, not something I’ve heard much of from the Dutch, but as I say, it could simply be a translation issue, the 2 chaps were struggling with the English, and perhaps blacks was an easier word to use than homeless/vagrants or whatever he might have been trying to say.

Anyway…while I don’t like the stereotyping that was involved, I have to say it did make me look around and realise that perhaps sitting on some open steps with dozens of people aimlessly wandering around looking for dropped cash, flashing something that could easily be pawned for a meal, was perhaps not the brightest thing in the world to do….I shall therefore attempt to hook up at a safer place next time, and perhaps be able to enjoy a coffee while I’m at it.


1 comment:

Paul said...

I frequent the chaos engine quite a bit and thought I'd check your blog out. Reminds me of when I first moved abroad, especially the Ikea stuff. Practically lived there for a few months when I moved to Austria in 2004 ;) Never looked back mind, I'm in Canada now, and much as the money is a bit better here, I really miss living in europe (along with the beer, old buildings, public transport etc)

Well anyway, good luck and enjoy the ride. Changes your out look on things seeing a slightly different way of life. It did me a world of good and I had some really good times in the process.