December 28, 2008
December 22, 2008
Originally uploaded by macchi.
I love maps.
This is in one of our offices - one of many spread out in the rooms on our corridor. I love just standing in front of them, and fantasizing about all those places that are still left to go to. (Although it'll be a while before I can get to this part of the world, I'm sure)
It isn't completely unlikely that I will go back to school/university at some point - as I'm pretty sure that in a few years' time I'll want to be doing some kind of studying again. And the idea of starting work on a PhD did cross my mind when I graduated but I wanted to start working in a regular organisation/company first. That doesn't mean I won't ever still go back to this idea.
I can absolutely think of several ideas to write a PhD on. But then again, it sounds like an insane amount of work - and something I can't handle quite yet, nor in the next few years.
Anyway, check back with me in five years!
December 13, 2008
Such as this table from Habitat (great shop btw, only discovered it last week - we don't have it here)
This lamp from Aba-i
And this for on the wall: no picture possible but go here and have a look at the canvas with title 'O-Kinawa' (second row, third from left).
Well - maybe not all in the same space....
And oh yeah, I first need to find a house....
December 08, 2008
I got everything I needed earlier this summr, but it's been sitting in a corner in my bedroom since.
I don't know what got into me last week, though, but I actually walked inside and joined up. So now I have a one-year membership to the local gym.
Most of my friends are quite surprised, I think, as am I. But I've decided to do it completely my way, take it slow and easy, see how I get on and not pay attention to anyone else. It'll be the only way for me to make it work.
Scary though. I'm not quite sure what's going on with me lately.
December 07, 2008
It was good catching up with my friend - someone who I met by accident a few years ago in Tokyo, but I'm happy that we got back in touch now that she's living in Germany.
Dusseldorf has a big Japanese community so we spent Saturday lunch time browsing the Japanese shops (stocked up on food, and some manga for old times sake) and then queued up (as of course you should) for great ramen. Yummm.
Germany is so close, but it's interesting to see the many small differences. How people act and respond to each other, what's normal behaviour when going out etc. We talked about these differences a lot - comparing it to Japan and the Netherlands. And I actually learned some new things about Japanese customs etc as well. And my Japanese is a bit improved again - now to keep it up!
It was good being away though. It sounds very smug maybe but my weekends seem to be really good the last few months. Great stuff.
(more pictures are here of course)
December 03, 2008
I am still really enjoying what I do, I meet very interesting people, the work is very diverse and an increasingly large part of it is challenging me more and more (because I'm taking on more complex tasks).
It also means that at the moment I have a very heavy workload, but that's okay. Mostly because I can't decide what part of it to cut off. That, of course, means I'm making long days, hectic days, stressful hours behind the computer trying to figure out where to start on my to do lists, and rushing from one meeting to the next. It's not helping that at the moment my colleague who I do part of the work together with is mostly out of the office due to personal reasons.
Despite all the above, I get rewarded for it as well - and it's absolutely starting to pay off. Which is great and makes it worth it as well.
But it's becoming harder to keep a balance between work and personal life. Maybe this is also partly because of the dark days and the dreary weather. But it's difficult being in time to meet a friend after a day of work. I've quit a course I loved because it just became impossible to combine.
My job isn't even as hectic and chaotic as some others I know, and I'm happy that I have the flexibility to be able to focus on it for now. Life is better than ever which is great. But still.
Then again, maybe I just need a holiday - hopefully in January!
[hm, this turned into babbling, sorry!]
November 30, 2008
(I don't know why this last picture is on its side, but I'll figure that out later)
It turned out quite well though, so I'm very happy :) On to the next cooking challenge!
November 09, 2008
By accident I discovered that it was on television late last Saturday night.
It's a very nice movie but what struck me most was the similarity in story (partly) and atmosphere to the movie Nobody Knows/ Dare mo shiranai.
'Nobody Knows' is about four siblings living in Japan, whose mother has left them to fend for themselves. Absolutely beautiful film, but very sad also. 'Flower in the pocket' is much less sad luckily, but is about two brothers, who basically also have to look after themselves. The stories have very different plots and endings, but interesting to see the similarities.
What was also good about it is that it gave a good idea of the complex society in Malaysia. The boys are Chinese Malaysian, and speak Chinese with their dad and between them both. Only the older boy speaks Malay and can communicate with some of the other kids, and people in the movie. Then a doctor who appears seems to speak only English, but can understand the father speaking back in Chinese. Malaysia has a very mixed, and complicated, society which I've also written about when I was there earlier this year and it's very apparent in this film.
Definitely a recommended film.
November 03, 2008
Today, I spent the day in Brussels visiting some of the main EU institutions.
A very long day, arriving in Brussels at 10am, leaving at 6pm, listening to presentations and asking questions non-stop in the meantime.
I've always been a supporter of the European project. When the referendum on the European constitution (a horrible name for the Lisbon treaty) in 2005 was voted down in the Netherlands I was in Japan (and voted from there) surrounded by a fairly pro-constitution crowd of Dutchies. I was shocked to find out what had actually happened in the Netherlands in the run-up to the referendum.
This also means that I was quite curious to finally go and see the institutions where it happens, hear more about how it works, and talk to the people working as part of this circus. During the day, we spoke to lobbyists, government staff, EU staff, journalists, politicians - so it gave a fairly varied image of what goes on. But of course, all of these people broadly support what happens in Brussels; they wouldn't be doing their particular jobs if they didn't I guess.
Nevertheless, an interesting but exhausting day. Back to semi-regular work tomorrow!
The above picture is taken from the main entrance of the building of the European Council: a huge balloon with all the European flags going around it.
November 02, 2008
Oh well, let's see if I can manage another four!
So, I'm attempting again - inspired by a group of other internet acquaintances.
My pictures will be up at flickr, of course.
I'm hoping that this will encourage me to be a bit more active and creative with my camera, instead of only taking pictures when I'm travelling.
Anyone want to take bets on how long I will last? ;-)
October 20, 2008
October 19, 2008
Armed with a notebook and an empty stomach, I was very much looking forward to some fabulous Japanese food. And in case you are wondering, 'why the notebook?', we were going to review the restaurant for a newsletter of a small club.
It really was a lot of fun - 'legitimately' commenting on every tiny detail: from lighting to tempura to toiletseats.
On the other hand, looking back there was hardly any food that we really liked. If we would have been there just to eat and chat I don't think we'd have noticed so much.
The restaurant is very highly listed in several rankings, but apart from the interior and the presentation of the food I fail to see why. It seems the restaurant sees itself as 'modern style Japanese' except that about 80% of their menu is very traditional. The traditional Japanese dishes are nice, not exceptional (although we didn't have any sushi or sashimi so maybe that is better and the bento-boxes did look amazing from a distance). And we didn't like any of the more experimental dishes. E50 becomes a lot for a dinner like that....
Luckily the dessert made up for much of it. Very yummy ginger cheesecake with chocolate icecream. Mmmmmm. And surprisingly good tempura icecream for my friend.
October 13, 2008
What I am studying? INCO-terms, export marketing strategies, customs documents, letters of credit and other forms of documentary credit, and so on as long as it has to do with export. It sounds more complicated than it is and I am pretty sure I'll be fine tomorrow.
And with that attitude I started going through my course book and old exams this morning, until I came to the calculation assignments.
"You are sending 1000 flowerpots and 1500 chairs to the US. Your transport costs are E2500. Your agent receives a 15% commission. The exhange rate USD-Euro is 1-0.87. What are your total costs in USD?"
I still don't get why every exam holds three of these questions but it took me a while to get out my math skills from 8th grade and work it out properly.
October 11, 2008
For today's birthday friend I got Miranda July's collection of short stories No one belongs here more than you, a book I found for myself about a year ago and which I had to buy instantly. Miranda July is also the director of the movie 'Me And You And Everyone We Know' - a movie I completely loved, and so I couldn't leave the book in the shop. And it seemed like the perfect book for today's friend.
July seems to be a truly creative spirit and I love how she makes very ordinary situations very unordinary, in her movies, her books and her other projects. One of which I learned about today when a fellow-fan saw the book I got.
This project (Learning To Love You More)is discussed in the video. It looks like so much fun. Go watch it, and go read the book and go see the movie.
October 03, 2008
Yesterday (well, officially, since last week) I started my latest experiment: I'm now learning how to play the darbuka. It is an Arabic drum, played with your hands - so in a way similar to an African djembe.
I was exhausted on my way there, and could only think I'd made a big mistake. The place where the course is at is at night, at least an hour away from work, and my house is in the middle. Not exactly smartly located.
But I left with lots of new energy and excited about everything that has been going on. Great feeling!
2. 2 & 3 October
I really don't fit in this town - I almost hate these two dates, but they are on which the biggest party in my town gets celebrated. Despite the bad weather, it took me half an hour to get home tonight (instead of the 7-minute bike ride) trying to find my way through drunken, screaming people and through neon lights and lots of noise. Ugh. One more day to go.
3. Travel (hey, why not)
Actually, it's work. I'm working on a project next to my regular day job which is great to do, very challenging, but very fun and I'm learning a lot from it. I had considered the possibility of travelling as part of it but it didn't really seem probable. Until a colleague of mine from this department that I'm working for starting talking about it himself. Hmmmm. Unfortunately the best opportunity clashes with another work trip (woe is me...) but I'm definitely going to work something out for this! India, here I come :-)
September 28, 2008
This weekend has been all about doing nothing, catching up on my house, and meeting up with a few friends.
I feel as if from now on I can take more time for myself again, after a hectic couple of months: changing roles at work, planning a holiday, dealing with post-relationship stuff - but I hope that from now on I can focus on trying out some new things again, enjoying my own house, not being glued to the computer, etc etc.
Pictures of the trip are coming, sorted them out tonight, now only need to find the time to upload them.
September 14, 2008
Statistically speaking, I'm sure it will turn up, but I'm getting slightly anxious now and am starting to think of things I need to buy tomorrow if it doesn't show up soon!
Very frustrating. The not-so-fun side of travel.
* US Open Final
* Seeing whales do somersaults
* 25C weather 2,5 weeks straight.
* a non-public 9/11 memorial
* not seeing any non-city
* many many sites under renovation (mostly disappointed about the Congress and the UN Security Council)
Best dinners (not necessarily best food, though)
* at Annapolis wharf
* at Brighton Beach
* at The Garage
* US network television
* Squirrels! Everywhere!
* a man praying in a nightshop
Most impressive sights
* the view from the Empire State Building
* the Guggenheim museum
* Library of Congress
* Kenneth Cole
* Urban Outfitters
* St. Mark's bookshop
September 05, 2008
Washington isn't like that. Yes, there are a lot of big government buildings and the roads are big and almost look built for tanks (like in Moscow and Beijing). But the buildings look antiquated to me, huge but built to remember and not to use and work in. They don't feel real, only seem to be a tourist attraction while the actual power goes on somewhere else.
A little bit of a disappointment. But, the weather is amazing, the museums are free to go in and wander around, I am catching up with some people here and am mostly relaxing and unwinding. Very very good.
August 31, 2008
But I have a problem. One that I was afraid would happen. And one of the reasons why I chose to be out on a ship for four hours and be very cold and wet yesterday (but see whales!). I am fed up of being in a city, of being surrounded by too many people, of too much time spent waiting for subways and buses.
I am hoping that being on a train non-stop for eight hours today will get rid of this feeling. No constant need to interact with people, just me and my book. Because I have another two weeks of city ahead of me....
August 30, 2008
August 27, 2008
So far, I've seen plenty to surprise me.
The madness started this morning when I had to answer a series of 'security questions' after checking in for my flight to NY in Zurich. I still don't really see the point of asking people if they are carrying a bomb and I was quite bemused by the range of questions.
Getting into the city after that was easy, and walking up from the subway I couldn't stop thinking that it really is all just like in the movies.
My friend's apartment is in the middle of East Village, and we spent the evening reminiscing about our last encounters (this is the fourth continent we meet at) and how she likes New York to live in.
But before I got to see her, I needed to waste some time away. Part of me was too excited to do nothing, part of me was too tired after the 5am start. As a compromise, I'm writing this in Washington Square Park: watching people, drinking iced coffee, and being generally amazed and entertained by the goings-on around me:
- there are squirrels in the park! In the middle of NYC!
- a girl next to me was trying to study while letting out her dog for a walk. Uhm, right. How's that for procrastination.
- I've already scored my first phonenumber. Although I don't think I should be boasting about this one.
- a man is getting changed behind a tree.
- people really do wear Obama 2008 t-shirts in public.
I think I may get to like this city...
August 25, 2008
I have fixed my final work thing. After freaking out all day it turned out to be over with in one phone call and four emails. That was definitely the best case scenario!
So, now that that is over and done with I finally feel as if I'm on holiday. Woohoo.
I have my first week fixed (NY -> Boston -> DC), I'm reading up about my destinations in my new travel guides (yes, multiple - why is there not one guide with all these three cities, apart from the huge USA-book?) and am listening to a brand new and very happy CD by the Black Kids (thanks to Autres Choses for the discovery!)
August 23, 2008
It also means that I've really been enjoying my summer at work - and looking at all the things happening at my place of work, the timing of my switch couldn't have been better.
Now, I'm suddenly on leave for the next three weeks. It hasn't really set in yet, partly because I have one unresolved work issue nagging in my head. Should be dealt with by Monday, hopefully.
And then... I'm off to a whole new part of the world.
I don't really know what to expect of these 2,5 weeks in Northeastern USA. The organisation of it all hasn't been very relaxed, mostly because I don't usually organize but am now forced to. Timing is off, as I'm in the middle of Labor Day Weekend which seems to limit my options. And I want to rely on public transport as much as I can which seems to limit my options.
Next year - back to Asia/Eastern Europe/etc where I seem to be able to go without planning. Much better suited to my type of travel!
Expect stories about the craziness of the USA during the next few weeks though. Yay!
August 13, 2008
Which includes talking about mortgages, researching about what a new house will mean, walking through neighbourhouds in a fairly unknown city, and spending hours online on real estate sites.
This has always been something that I am not sure I would ever be doing, but somehow, strangely, now feels kind of right.
If anything, I'm really looking forward to discovering a new city, when I do finally move!
August 01, 2008
I don't think I've ever seen such huge flames coming out of a fryingpan and I grew up in a professional kitchen so that means something.
No clue what's going on with me this week.
Everything seems to be going wrong (all little stuff, mind); I'm angry about the tiniest things; I drop everything; etc etc. Not to mention that work is completely chaotic, I don't get anything done, my to-do list is only growing and so on.
At least I took today off and spent a few hours outside, drinking coffee, reading, enjoying the sun - but this kitchen disaster has pretty much driven away that relaxedness!
Oh well. It's the weekend. I have a big trip coming up in a few weeks. And apart from this tenseness life is pretty good I guess. Still. It needs to go away. Any tips?
July 27, 2008
Is this me re-lapsing into the '50s and thinking I will never get hold of a man if I can't use my kitchen properly?
Or is it the influence of Ms. Cookie?
Or is it my genes playing up? I am after all the daughter of a kitchen chef.
Whichever it may be I seem to be obsessed about gaining the ability to bake proper pastry/dessert/cake/etc. After a few failed attempts, I seem to have made a successful dessert last Friday. Yumm.
And I can't seem to cook just by putting some ingredients together, and always have to pull out a recipe from somewhere if friends come over.
Well, luckily this weekend all of the above did work well. But that doesn't happen much. But why do I bother? Why is it so important to be able to just whisk up this magnificent meal in the kitchen? Highly frustrating!
Oh, and for inspiration of this post I had a look at my food challenges from a few years ago:
* bake desserts and cakes;
* grow my own herbs;
* use more non-standard kitchen utensils;
* take better care of cut-out recipes;
* use more seasonal foods;
* cook more Japanese.
Well, except for #2 & #5 I'm improving so I'll stop complaining!
July 24, 2008
But - I can't really make up my mind where to go. I will most likely be spending the first four days or so in Washington DC (but just heard that the friend I will be seeing will actually be here until around the day I was planning to leave the city - so those plans might still change), a few days (up to 5 days, I think) somewhere else and a week in NCY. The problem is those couple of days in between. I'm reading and researching but can't really figure out where to go, what would be good (I want something non-city) and what is accessible enough (I don't want to drive).
[edit, i just re-read a message from DC and apparently I have use of a car while I'm there. Not sure if this guys knows what he's getting his car into, and not sure if it's such a good idea for me, but it gives me some more options maybe]
So, I need your help. Vote, on the left-hand side, and let me know what you would do.
(There is a very vague option of going up to Maine, but I don't expect that to happen)
Some pictures below, and more on here, as always.
July 12, 2008
Hayward Gallery towards the London Eye
Originally uploaded by macchi.
I took this picture when I was in London just over a year ago. Reading the arts section of my newspaper today I discovered that he's now exhibiting in Rotterdam at the Kunsthal (www.kunsthal.nl). Cannot wait to see his work here. Rotterdam is probably also the best city in the Netherlands to have his sculptures exhibited in..... hope to have some pictures of that soon!
July 11, 2008
Two years ago my mum and I decided that it would be fun to spend a weekend away somewhere - but instead of turning it into a fancy shopping trip (fun as well), we decided to go hiking in an unknown area of our own country. This turned out to be very fun so we've made it into a new yearly 'tradition'.
Last year's destination was very pretty, but it also turned out to be too hot - quite unbelievable for a Dutch summer.
In two weeks' time we're heading to one of my favourite parts of the country, but first we're finishing the previous hike. Very much looking forward to it!
July 07, 2008
I found the blog at the time that she was walking through Tadjikistan - I just read her latest posts which are of crossing the border into Afghanistan. Although the stories and pictures are fascinating I can't stop thinking that you have to be crazy to be doing a trip like this....
Travel stories seem to fascinate me at the moment, especially those going through Central Asia. I just finished Colin Thubron's Shadow of the Silk Road which I loved. I especially liked that he doesn't only describe what he sees, but he really ties together the long history of the area and talks a lot about the people he meets. Now waiting is also 'On the Road to Kandahar' - a report by a military journalist (I think) of travelling Afghanistan and Iraq.
Fascinating stuff. And good for dreaming up new destinations (although I won't be bothering my boss for tickets to Kabul any time soon I think - but Kyrgystan or there abouts would be good.... but then I need a different job).
(ps, the blog is slow as I have very irregular connectivity at the moment. Oh, and no inspiration)
June 27, 2008
French cheese to be exact, and a little bit of Swiss. Cow's, goat's, soft, creamy, smelly, blue - you name it, we had it all.
One of the friends who was here this [s]weekend[/s] week is from France, and she brought half (!) a suitcase full of cheese (and wine, and foie gras, and saucisson - but mostly cheese). Great stuff. *sigh*
Everyone's gone now - the last person left for Japan today. It was amazing being together with all these people again. And after six years, no one has changed. At all. Definitely a special week.
I have a few leftovers in my fridge, so I might just have to invite some friends over for wine this weekend.
June 21, 2008
Such as tomorrow - Sunday.
A friend and I will be be spending the whole day picking up various other friends from airports and trainstations. By the end of the day there will be eight of us - flying and train-ing in from all over Europe - for a long overdue reunion. This group of people are the people that I spent most of my time in Osaka, 6/7 years ago, with. Although I've seen most of them within that time at least once, and usually more often, this is the first time that we are all together. Although I suppose to make it a real reunion some others should be added too.
I can't wait. The time that I spent in Osaka was amazing, and in large part due to these people. We have no plans, so I'm hoping for great weather *fingers crossed* to just be able to hang out along the canals and have fun. Woohoo!
June 14, 2008
View from KL Tower
Late night supper with friends on Saturday night - a great welcome to KL!
Palm trees all over the place, and now I finally know and understand where palmoil comes from.
June 13, 2008
While we would only be with two people of low to medium status, we would be welcomed by at least three - but more often many more - people, one of which would be a high-ranking official who did all the talking during the meeting. The others don't speak at all at these meetings, except for a particular daring employee who would pipe up to add something every now and then. It always made me wonder why these people were even at the meeting in the first place.
This morning my last meeting topped all of the others of this week: we were met by no less than seventeen (17!) people. The programme included breakfast, a 15-minute group photo shoot and of course lunch (there's always food included in whatever meeting you are at). Luckily the food was indeed good and the actual programme which was the reason we were there was very very interesting.
The lavish reception at so many (government) organisations has made me wonder why that happens. Of course there could be different reasons:
1) We really are incredibly important. We just don't know it ourselves;
2) Government receives disproportional respect in comparison to the value of our work;
3) There is a lot of hidden unemployment in Malaysia; or
4) People will use any excuse to get away from their mindnumbingly boring tasks.
Any other suggestions?
June 12, 2008
This is my final night in KL. Pretty much as I expected and feared it has been a week mostly without sightseeing. Many early nights caused by long and exhausting days, leaving little energy or time to venture out into the unknown. Today wasn't much different except for the urge to see one other part of town before I head out tomorrow night.
Not being able to sightsee doesn't mean that I haven't seen anything of the country though. If anything, this has probably been a much better week to learn about Malaysia than if I would have been backpacking. Maybe by talking and talking and more talking to many different people you find out more about a country than by seeing temples and palm trees.
Talking with NGO-workers, for example, who are explaining the complexities of Malaysian politics and the need for more transparency. And then, at lunch, the Indian woman of this group starts going off on Muslims and how we have to stop them from taking over the world. Right...
Or the couple, Chinese Malaysians, of which the woman speaks and writes Cantonese and English fluently but no Bahasa Malaysia at all. And the man speak and writes English and Malay perfectly but only speaks (and doesn't write) Cantonese. They commute into Singapore daily from Johor, on the southern tip of peninsular Malaysia.
Or Malaysian politics - which seems like a complicated maze as well. Current Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi is under heavy criticism after his party lost heavily in the general elections in last March (though they still have a majority in parliament). He's apparently sometimes compared to a Malaysian version of Gorbatsjev - opening up the country but currently risking his own position as a result of that. He's inherited many big issues from previous PM Mahathir Mohamed (also known as Dr. M). Although he built up the country so it now has 6%-plus annual economic growth things such as corruption and non-freedom of press became normal throughout the country. He also left the country with a heavy car-dependence. Obsessed with creating a domestic automotive industry, he heavily protected this industry and promoted individual car ownership. Now, in a time of record-high oil prices, Malaysia is also suffering. With the country dependent on cars, fuel subsidies were finally mostly removed last week causeing fuel prices to rise with 41%. Combined with the worldwide increase of food prices and an expected big hike in electricity prices next month, Malaysians are not a happy people right now.
This moment is an interesting time to be in Malaysia - not only for the ecnomic and political situation but also societal. The Indian and Chinese part of the population (making up almost 40% of the total population) is seeing the country transformed into a more Muslim-state, and the local Malay population (also called bumiputra's) gets advantages on all kinds of things: from favourable interest rates on mortgages to entry into government jobs and so on. At the same time, all population groups in Malaysia claim that the beauty of the country is that different ethnicities can live together peacefully. Yes, but only to a certain extent it seems. There's a lot of frustration hidden underneath that surface and it will be interesting to see how that will change in the coming years.
June 09, 2008
Of course, it's also not Europe. Something in between, though I'm not sure what.
Or I've just been looking in the wrong places so far, I hope to discover that during the rest of the week.
June 08, 2008
And also: my room is on the 20th floor and looks out straight to KL Tower and the Petronas Twin Towers! Pretty amazing view, pictures to follow of course.
Work starts tomorrow - last night was spent catching up with a Malaysian friend and his family who I met 13/4 years ago in Australia. Great way to get introduced to KL and Malaysian food, and of course to see an old friend again after 10 years. Today, more good food with a colleague and her family at lunch. A few work things that didn't go so great, which is why I'm now at a computer, but will be off to do more sightseeing soon.
June 03, 2008
A hundred reasons clamour for your going. You go to touch on human identities, to people an empty map. You have a notion that this is the world's heart. You go to encounter the protean shapes of faith. You go because you are still young and crave excitement, the crunch of your boots in the dust; you go because you are old and need to understand something before it's too late. You go to see what will happen.
The above is from the introduction of Colin Thubron's Shadow of the Silk Road. Possibly pretentious but I do recognize a lot in it - why do I travel?
The book started off in Xian, and the first 80 pages detailed the 2,5 weeks that I travelled two years ago to Dunhuang in Gansu province in China. But he continues on, and at the moment he has just arrived in Kyrgyzstan....
I wonder when I will be able to continue that journey out of Dunhuang. I would love to know what is beyond those dunes.
May 27, 2008
The week in KL has now turned into a slight dilemma though. Going there is part of my job - because I have Malaysia in my set of countries. Except that as of the day I return from KL, that isn't the case anymore. Oops. I think my colleagues in KL might not be very impressed with the news.
Oh well. My manager agrees that this is what happens, and I'll just have to make sure to write a good trip report for my successor.
May 26, 2008
The instant VJ'ing was usually much more interesting but the consultant in our group kept saying how they could save so much money by being more efficient and just taping it. Was fun to figure out what the girls were trying to visualize though.
Oh well. The rest of the night was lots of fun, so it's all good.
But anyway - I bought a guide book to Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, because well - even if I'm there for work, I'm still there for six days which in my mind warrants the book (not that I've actually looked at it yet of course).
Except that I'm not actually in KL for six days.... out of the preliminary five day working schedule, I think I'm only spending 1,5 days in the city itself. Very excited, although to be fair I think meetings in the city for an extra day would be more useful workwise. I've been a good girl and suggested that to my colleagues as well. We'll see what happens.
But still - I really should've bought the full-on Malaysia guide apparently.
May 21, 2008
May 17, 2008
With summer coming up and everyone asking what my plans are for the summer (none) I am slowly starting to think of some new travel plans. Unfortunately the Malaysia trip offers little chance of doing much touristy (although an old friend is coming up to KL for the weekend with his wife and kid to meet me, yay!) and I don't want to go away during the schoolholidays and high season in July/August.
But: New York & Washington DC and surrounds at the end of September/early October.
The more I think of it, the better this is sounding.....
Now I just need to wait for my finances to sort themselves out and to know whether or not I'll be travelling by myself and I can start contacting my friends there to see if they'll be around. Hurrah!
May 12, 2008
According to my friends, I am officially 'old' as of tomorrow. To aid me in my seniority I have been given the above 'rollator' (sorry, my English doesn't include a proper word for this walking aid). Do pay attention to all the details though....
May 09, 2008
One of my favourite places in my house is a tiny little covered patio thing at the back of my house. Except that I never use it for much more than storing junk. And for parties. So am making it look nice-ish again which is reminding me how I really should use it so much more. Don't you love the red of this huge lantern that's there?
May 06, 2008
I have to admit that I think I've written a kick-ass letter and that probably I needn't even try so hard but this was actually fun! (Who'd have thunk?)
Hopefully this will work out. If not, ah well - I love my current countries and current job so that's okay too.
That sounds sickeningly good, doesn't it. Yuck.
May 05, 2008
Although it turned out not completely as we expected, it tasted pretty good. Maybe next time a smaller baking tin, more mascarpone and real dough.
Unfortunately not really suited to what I need it for. But at least I have a yummy dessert after tonight's dinner!
May 04, 2008
Late discoveries like this always make me realize there's too much that I want to do. Aargh.
Here in the Netherlands we have had our own Golden Week this year - Queen's Day, Ascension, a Friday in between on which my company closed down, a weekend, and Liberation day tomorrow where government employees still have the day off. Six days in a row - talk about a Long Weekend.
What I did? Nothing. And it was bliss.
Spent Queen's Day being stuck in the house trying to get better from a bad cold but the days after that were spent lounging around Amsterdam. I love wandering through the city and every time I'm there it strikes me how much variety of things to do and of places to go there is. Were it not for work being in the opposite direction I might actually consider looking for a place there... (that, and the fact that I can't afford this city).
Breakfast outside in the sun, shopping and discovering new fabulous shops (and not being able to decide what to buy therefore not buying anything which I now regret), Hoegaarden and good conversation, good movie (if you're interested in a story about how immigrants are part of - or rather not part of - Western societies, It's a free world is pretty good. Very timely and realistic), and so on.
Back home, shopping for fresh flowers (I love this time of year), fresh food - trying out new recipes at home, chilling out, reading books, and getting excited about next week's party. Wheee.
April 29, 2008
So, what has been happening:
* work is great - the event I mentioned in my previous post went pretty well; the project I've been working on for the past few months is finished, but I'll be continuing with it in a project management role; and am going to apply for an internal vacancy - very similar to what I do now but it's bigger and better, obviously.
* weekends have been relaxed without major events. Quite good actually.
* and I'm now on the eve of a six-day weekend. Bliss. Three holidays coinciding and a weekend in between makes for almost a full week of doing nothing. Well, I'm sure it'll fill up soon enough with a dj-gig of Simian Mobile Disco, helping friends in their new house, and mostly just hanging out in the city (although I don't know which one yet).
Oh, and did I mention my worktrip to Malaysia is booked? Woohoo!
April 13, 2008
Tuesday is mostly when all of that is happening.
* the last week or so in the office has mostly been taken up by the preparation of Tuesday's event - something that came up last minute, officially speaking isn't really part of my actual work and I think just about everyone thinks I'm crazy for continuing to think I/we could pull this off. It's one of the biggest things so far which I've had to do, and despite all the negativity of the last week I think I've managed to put together a great programme. Hopefully my inbox tomorrow will be filled with lots of emails of people attending and there won't be any cancellations of speakers. *fingers crossed*
* when I come home from that event, I will suddenly find my house occupied by a temporary flatmate - my boyfriend. I don't think I've ever really lived in such close proximity with someone else (because my house really is tiny). I'm probably overanalyzing it, and I really do look forward to it, but well - it'll be an interesting experiment!
This meant having to find out how well my Japanese has kept up after 2,5 years, going on three, of being out of Japan and not having had any significant Japanese language interaction aside from an occasional afternoon. Well, not as well as I had hoped, but also not as badly as I had feared. So it's a mixed positive, I guess.
As a ticket to Japan is nowhere in sight, I'll have to make do with a weekend in Duesseldorf sometime in the coming months for some shopping and what is supposedly the best ramen in Europe. Yumm!
It also reminded me of some of the peculiarities of Japan - constant apologizing for things that cannot be helped, very conservative ideas about relationships, work, travel etc. A reminder of why I don't want to live there long-term. And a reminder that I need to install Japanese language software on my computer again (long long overdue) so I can communicate with friends in Japan again.
But it's always fun to see your own town through someone else's eyes again - the pretty canals, the mostly smiling people, the relaxedness of Dutch cities (well, at least these last two compare favourably to Germany apparently!).
April 05, 2008
Apart from meeting one friend for coffee/wine this afternoon, and lunch tomorrow with cookie, I am spending my time on (lots of) sleeping, reading the paper and books, (a little bit of) studying, writing some things down which I can't seem to say, sorting out photo's from two years of travel, slowly preparing next week's presentation, cooking, etc etc.
April 02, 2008
What do I consider home? That one's easy - the Netherlands. Despite having lived in different countries, and fully expecting to move abroad for some time again in the future, I can't imagine the Netherlands not being my home.
Why do I feel that so strongly though? And I do feel 'at home' at other places too, so what do I need in a place to make it feel that way?
Questions that I've mostly only thought of in relation to Japan and why I couldn't live there long term: because I don't feel I fit in to Japanese society.
What I need to feel at home somewhere, to feel a sense of belonging is having people I care about and who are important to me close by, a comfortable lifestyle, an open society but most of all I need a society that I feel a part of, that I can actively participate in through associations, debates on current affairs, politics but also by being respected for who I am and for being 'me' in that society.
March 29, 2008
It had been going pretty well, slowly moving through that stack, and keeping away from bookshops. Until last week.
I am now the proud owner of Colin Thubron's Shadow of the Silk Road, which had been on my wishlist for a while, and De Russische Kater by Laura Starink - after having seen her speak in a very interesting debate on contemporary Russian politics a few weeks ago.
I vaguely remember claiming that my Russia-fascination would be done with after my last trip to Russia exactly a year ago. I guess that hasn't happened huh. Oh well. Am now off to Amsterdam to see a documentary on Anna Politkovskaya to keep up the theme.
March 27, 2008
I just wrote a rundown of all the different things I did today to give you an idea of why I love my job. Boring, I know. But, since I recently discovered that this blog is not nearly as anonymous as I thought it might be, I won't bother after all. You'll have to take my word for it that it's fun and exciting.
And the best news of this week: my work trip to Kuala Lumpur is pretty much fixed! Woohoo.
March 25, 2008
March 23, 2008
I just checked into my bank account and noticed that they've re-transferred more than the amount they asked me to pay back to my account claiming I overpaid them.
I should do the right thing and find out what's going on, I guess?
It's an animated movie after the graphic novel with the same title of author Marjane Satrapi. It recounts her life growing up in Iran after the 1979 revolution, and coming to Europe for highschool. Great insight to a major historic event from a personal point of view.
While I enjoyed the movie I think the very simplistic drawing did harm the presentation of the story as a movie. Although I haven't read the book (but a friend of mine apparently has it) I imagine it to be much more powerful on paper. Even though less is sometimes more, I feel that on screen you need more visual power to convince the viewer - and this is one of those cases.
Especially the beginning of the movie felt too much like a documentary and too slow-going to really catch my attention. Maybe this is also because the beginning describes a period in Satrapi's life when she's still very young, and things seem to be moving faster as she gets older. And I started to enjoy it more as the story continues as well.
It is a very interesting part of history though, and I love the way that this story shows a little bit of that. And it has made me interested to know more about the actual happenings and history of this part of the world. Nevertheless, I do think I'll like the book better.
March 16, 2008
Reading this review, on the recently discovered blog Neojaponisme, about the new winner of this year's Akutagawa prize in Japan made me realize that I still have a shelf of Japanese books to read.
The book reviewed, Chichi to ran ( Breasts and Eggs), sounds very interesting. It reminds me a little of a previous Akutagawa-winner, the book Snakes and Earrings by Hitomi Kanehara. The way the new winner appears to be written, and the topic it is on, seems to be pretty refreshing - which Kanehara did a few years ago, but completely differently.
I haven't read any of these books in the picture for over two years. I should really start getting back into it, if I want to be able to maintain my Japanese (reading) skills. The last two years have just been too hectic to be able to focus on books like this. Today felt different. I've been cleaning out my house, getting rid of a lot of things, and it feels as if the restlessness is well and truly gone. Who knows, I might be able to sit down for one of the books from that shelf again. Or maybe really start thinking about a project? Plenty of ideas... which is very good.
March 15, 2008
First time to wear open-heeled shoes.
First time to put away my wintercoat as it's too hot to wear it.
All that combined with strolling the market, buying fresh flowers, olives, yummy food. Planning an impromptu evening with friends, after still being on a slight high from a fun night in the pub the evening before.
March 12, 2008
I don't know if it's just a good day, or if it's the light, or if it's the little things that happened today (dress compliment from a random stranger, work compliments, exciting projects) but I'm pretty much dancing through my house tonight.
Not even the stack of tax letters and various other boring and frustrating administration papers can get me down.
Whereas over the past few weeks I've been locking myself up a little bit, not going out much during the week, early nights and keeping my weeks pretty empty - from now on my agenda is rapidly filling up with loads of fun appointments with friends and events to go and do. And I can't wait. Yay. Looks like I'm returning more to 'me' again.
March 09, 2008
But it was fun. I managed to get off the mountain pretty smoothly on the last day (though not quite the way we were taught), the group of people was fun and the weather was mostly pretty good.
The best part? The amazing views on top of the mountain. Absolutely stunning.
So, on to thinking about a next trip: London in June/July is pretty much definite. Yay.
February 25, 2008
Not until this week did I realize how much of a difference it really makes. Over the past 1,5 weeks I've been doing interviews for a vacancy at our department with my manager. Very fun, but very weird to suddenly be on the other side.
And although I've always taken in the advice I've gotten and tried to keep it in mind and act on it as much as possible during interviews, it wasn't until I could see these tips and tricks from the other side that I could really understand the difference.
# Sitting crossarmed in a corner not moving is not the way to show you really are motivated for the job.
# No one asked questions at the end - I thought that was compulsory? I couldn't believe it.
# Only one person really came across as very confident, well prepared, knowing what he wants and so on. He's definitely through to the next round.
Interesting (and fun!) to do though... and I have lots more inspiration for the workshop I'm hosting in April.
February 19, 2008
February 18, 2008
On top of that, I spoiled myself with a fabulous new cookbook!
Not just on Russian food, but also on food from Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine and... Azerbaidjan.
I'm SO excited. Can't wait to try it out. But, in case that doesn't happen (fairly likely actually), at least it will look good on my shelf of other cookbooks with food from various places of the world. Yay!
February 11, 2008
February 08, 2008
My university celebrates its establishment on February 8 (433 years today) and tomorrow I will be attending some of the events organized for alumni. It should be fairly interesting and I'm quite curious what it will be like. At least it's an interesting programme with a lecture on 'The mythes on the influence of Europe' and later on a workshop on 'Presenting with conviction'. Fits right in with some other stuff I've been doing.
More alumnistuff that evening when I have to put some people back on track. Not really looking forward to that though.
But! Sunday is looking great:
* 60 years of Magnum Photos at SMCS
* sushi, or something similar. yummm.
* Putin, Gorbatsjov and anything Russian in between at the Rode Hoed
February 02, 2008
In four weeks time, though, I'm supposed to be in the middle of a lot of snow.... Eek. By some kind of weird accident I'm due to go skiing (or snowboarding, I still haven't made up my mind) for the first time ever in France next month.
Any tips and tricks to not end up like the picture?
(picture from http://www.weaselette.com/comics.html)
January 29, 2008
And how can you not love a film which is introduced - by the director - as: "This is to celebrate really really bad music and really really bad fashion."? Hilariously kitsch and very emotional at the same time.
January 26, 2008
The change going from one movie to another always surprises me.
Yesterday I first saw The best of times, the latest movie from Russian directer Svetlana Proskurina. A thoughtful movie about two women and the love/hate relationship between them throughout their lives after loving the same man.
Then it was time for REC, a Spanish blockbuster and as far removed from the previous film as you could imagine. I had already read a friend's review which made me somewhat prepared. Hilarious horror - gross, but done very well.
Next up today are:
It's hard to be nice
De verloren kolonie
Later this week will be:
881 (my attempt at fitting something Japanese in there, but it turns out to be Singaporean. Oh well, close enough)
Yay, can't wait. So, for now, back to Rotterdam, where I'm being taken out to a mystery restaurant before hitting the cinema's again.
January 19, 2008
This year I seem to have found back a lot more people than usual though. I guess the internet is doing its job.... with finally being on Facebook, having a blog, posting my pics on Flickr, and being on LinkedIn (yes, I'm everywhere) and keeping my very first emailaddress from years ago still active, many of these long lost friends have been able to track me down again.
It's great to 'catch up' and see how they're doing and - in a lot of cases - where they currently are. The best thing about those locations: they're getting closer! An Australian friend is now in the UK and moving to the NL in the summer. Woohoo! A Brazilian friend is living in Stockholm, a Japanese friend is living in Duesseldorf. I guess I have my travelling sorted out for me this year.
Now for the hard part: staying in touch....
Looks like I'll be there at least 3-4 nights, can't wait! Very curious what kind of stuff I'll end up seeing - because I never really know, and it's always a good surprise.
January 16, 2008
January 12, 2008
Originally uploaded by macchi.
So, yes, we also went to Madrid. I forgot about posting about it - maybe because it didn't really leave an impression. Or maybe because I was so overwhelmed by Morocco.
Well, within the time that we had, we didn't do that much anyway. Walked around, stalked the staff at all the Camper-shops, had lunch, coffee, and headed back to the airport.
The area I liked most was Chueca (sp?) - great little shops and coffee places. Really cool.
Would like to go back once to spend a weekend there, do the museums, eat tapas and drink wine until late at night, discover the nightlife - but for now, it's not that high on my list anymore.
January 10, 2008
Instead, and inspired by Ianqui, on January 1 I finally decided I'd set up a 365-photoblog. 365 photographs for 365 days (or well, 366 in 2008 I think). I was very excited about the whole idea that first day - it would give me an opportunity to try new things with my camera, not just only take holiday shots as I do currently, and it would be a project - which sounds kinda cool.
Wisely enough, I didn't announce it right then and there on here. And, that turned out to be the right thing: I've failed the project already. And this isn't even the only resolution I've failed at and it's only the 10th! Gah. Cannot believe myself.