Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cultural Weekend. The Return.

We're back in Holland after a very enjoyable weekend in the land of Goethe. Goethe himself had absolutely nothing to do with the quality of our staying, but our dear friends surely had. They made everything humanly possible for the three of us to feel at home. And they had to put up a lot with, cause we are very troublesome guests, extremely posh when it comes to culture, as I already explained before. But no matter how hard we tried to be annoying and to catch them out, all our attempts proved to be to no avail, as they got over that in the most elegant manner. A big kiss and many thanks for that!

Surely, there is a drawback for such great hospitality, namely the five-kilo-surplus we had to carry back home, but these are details.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cultural Weekend

As we had winter tyres installed on our car, and as there's absolutely no need to have them on in Holland, neither legally nor meteorologically, we have decided to go to a place where the investment is justified. Thus, we'll travel this weekend to Germany, hoping to get stopped by the police and proudly show them our (almost brand) new tyres.

We're going to see some friends, so we'll have a deep and intense cultural weekend, primarily focused on literature. We're going to devour a few good books and then we'll be talking about the content of them. We already have a full agenda, so the logistic part plays an important role in the whole action.

First of all, we all have small kids and carrying out such actions in the municipal library is out of the question. Moreover, even without kids, there's a big issue going to the central library: it's far from home. Not necessarily when you go there, but surely when you come back. The intellectual process is so strenuous that not even it is highly recommended not to drive, but it's strictly forbidden. And the streets are teeming with callous people who'd step on your hands barely mumbling any excuse. Better stay at home, no doubt about it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Redeeming Myself

I do feel bound to write a few words of redemption after the numerous reactions I got after the Stolen Beer confession story. They all ranged from the bonhomous  yet patronising "Yeas, sure, it happens to all of us"  to "Hey, we're coming over to have a beer, it's for free anyway". Friends, it's been a misunderstanding, I am not the villain in this story and in reality I am a very nice and considerate guy who repents after such fortuitous actions. I do care for the well being of the supermarkets, the bigger they are the more shit I DO give. And I would come back to turn me in without any restriction, but I've heard some horror stories about that.

And when it comes to such stories, it's time I introduced someone in this picture: my mother in law. Don't jump to conclusions, she's far from being horrid, she's a very lovely person, but you wouldn't believe what she had to put up with. It all happened in a super/hyper/mega-market.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Carnival 2012

You won't believe what happened this year at one of the carnival parades. I've told you already about the carnival feast and so, now it's time for a bone-chilling tale.

We live in the largest city of Holland ...that doesn't have a train station. Maybe to compensate for it, or maybe for the forty-odd thousand inhabitants, we have our own local parade during the carnival. And this year we decided to attend it. The weather was bitchy as hell, alternating from some short sunny moments to rain that turned to hail and sleet, but we didn't care, cause we wanted the little one to see the affluence of silliness in its prime.

We didn't wear any costume this time, we preferred to be watchers only, but let me be clear on this, as it seems confusing. By "no costumes" I meant no parrot-like carnival outfit. We DID have clothes on, though. Which made me congratulate myself when I saw a few shivering girls wearing short pants or skimpy skirts and no stockings or something to cover her legs. Luckily they had the boots up above the knees, otherwise they'd have frozen. Especially since the high heels would not allow them to move swiftly. On the other hand, very nice costumes, abundant make up, I admired them for a lengthy while, until my wife took me away visibly not amused. She said they were working there, on an early shift, no idea what she meant.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My First Carnival

These days we're celebrating the carnival here, then we'll plunge into the abyss of the Easter Lent. As one of the etymologies suggests, the carnival name is derived from carne vale, which means "farewell to meat", so the whole idea behind it is that we're going now to eat and drink like fat pigs, then silence. For forty days we will engage in a battle with ourselves that involves penance, self discipline, minimal existence, in short - a stoical abstinence. Or we'll be doing nothing of the kind, but use this occasion to get dressed in silly clothes and get wasted but now in a justified manner.

I remember my first carnival in Holland. I was very curious back then what the carnival meant and what we'd do to celebrate it.  I was told that a costume was customary but not compulsory. So I decided in a moment that I looked goofy enough so no effort should be spent on making that worse. Anyway, I made four knots on an handkerchief and placed it on my head and imagined to be a pirate trying to protect his head from the burning sun. As on a February's night, in the Netherlands, THAT was a problem!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Stolen Beer

I'm a man! And this is not intended as a boasting statement of some extraordinary virility, oh no. It's about being a man caught in one of his chores: going to the supermarket to buy the bare necessities. Of course, it all begins with a list. Exclusively made by my wife. And she always ends the list with a question:

"Do you have anything else to write it down?"

"No, that's fine", I add it not even looking at what's written down.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Kinky Valentine

Bonjour, l'amour! Today is the day! (I'm in rhymes)

Let's celebrate the romantic love in its purest form, let's see how the immaculate thrill of love sends us a wondrous incandescent ray from the light created in the very first day, let us let our hearts sing together in a common symphony of sweet passion. And let us eat tons of chocolate allegedly shaped as our hearts and let us give/receive millions of bouquets of flowers, every single one featuring the immortal plastic heart, which will last far longer than we do. So it shall be written, so it shall be done!

Of course, you may choose to play the black sheep and do this every day, so there will be no celebration day for you, it will be just a day. And even more, you might want to do this your way, no plastic heart in the flowers, no dubious pralines with shape the only value, but a tender smile in the morning, a hearty embrace in the afternoon, and a sweet kiss in the night - the one that makes you both relive the first one. But this is for black sheep club only.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

King of Liechtenstein - Take Two

"Holy Mother of God, this woman is driving me crazy, she is indeed! I don't know what else to do, I've tried everything! But she keeps playing with me and my heart. I've even started to neglect the Principality's duties! Ludwig! What am I doing wrong?"

This was one of those evenings when the prince had yet another love attack. And like any other occasions he needed to talk to Ludwig, who'd been his advisor for many a year.

"Don't know, sir, you've done a lot so far", mumbled Ludwig, trying to sound convincing.

"Look, am I the King of Liechtenstein or not?"

"You are sir, you are the Prince".

"Tomayto, tomahto, Ludwig, you're not being helpful with these subtle remarks."

"Sorry, sir, I only meant ..."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Elfstedentocht - Eleven Cities Tour

The first thing that people who come to Holland find out is that the prostitution and light drugs are legal. If the discussion evolves one might find different subtle hues of the "legal" part of these activities. All right, if you indulge yourself in an act of sweet dissipation with a woman you get to pick from the window, you might get a receipt for the money you paid and sometimes you might even deduct the VAT. On the other hand, this job cannot be included in the official list of jobs, for at least one reason: if a woman is out of job and she applied for something, and THAT job is available, she'll have to take it. No need for further explanation, maybe a future debate will follow about this :).

Then you get to learn some other things. For instance, you learn that bikes are public property, the lock is just a challenge :). So when you see bikes that are worth less than the lock (no joke at all here) do not get surprised. If you come here in the summer, you still have some time till the winter to find out about one of the greatest prides of The Netherlands. You find it invariably in your first winter here. Off the record: if you come from a somehow-continental-climate country you might miss the winter at all and you think it's just a long summer. It's about 10 degrees anyway, approximately the same as in July :D. Fine, I slightly exaggerated but I was not that far off.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

King of Liechtenstein

"I feel like the king of Liechtenstein".

I don't recall who coined this phrase for the first time, I wished it was me but it wasn't. It came up at work, a fertile soil to have your frustrations validated to a high degree. It must have been one of those cases when you work your ass off and you get the job done well and everybody appreciates you, boss included, and the next day the project is cancelled.

... And the castle's crumbled and you're left with just a name

I found that hilarious at the time. I even imagined other scenarios in which you'd be "the king of Liechtenstein", like trying to get closer to a woman who's been roaming your night and day dreams. And then she agrees to go out with you and she's telling you how much she likes you and she'd like to be with you. You're the king! But "you know, I have a boyfriend and I want to give our relationship a second chance". ... of Liechtenstein.