Saturday, July 28, 2007

Memories and decisions...

I`m watching television, a documentary about (street) children in Manila, The Philippines. They live on the garbage of the local landfill. They search through the garbage the whole day, looking for salvageable material. Those that do not work there, the real street children, sniff some kind of chemical substance, and remain high the whole day, on the streets or even the local cemetery. The camera focuses on the face of a "high" husband of two children. They live in a tomb on the cemetery, together with his wife who is 19. That look in his eyes. It breaks your heart.

Two french priests do the best they can with their local organisation. They provide shelter, food, and for some, education. With their limited supplies they try to improve the lives of those children.

That made me remember my experiences in India. For three weeks I stayed in the field and interviewed farmers, or village-people. These are the ones that become the people you see lying under the viaducts of Jaipur, eventually, since living in the field is no option. My work there was about a project developed by the government to secure a livelihood for the people in the country-side, and to keep them from moving to the city, where their life will not be a lot better.

I saw how they lived, in those small and simple, but generally idyllic villages. It was easy to observe that a lot of development work already went in them. There I saw the children, wearing simple clothes, and relatively clean for my standards. I still find it strange how "down to earth" I was while I was there. I just played games with them, was not really surprised by the conditions in which they lived, while they are so much different from those in which I grew up. I did not find it strange. I accepted it. Maybe I realised that these children did not really have it that bad compared to those living on the streets of Jaipur, begging for money. Living in the country-side is often seen as worse than living in the city. Maybe it is easier to gather a livelihood (from the landfill) in the city, when the conditions are horrible. When there is a major drought in the country-side in Rajasthan, there is not much left on which to survive I can imagine.

One of the games I played in one of the villages, was an imitation game. While my boss was handing out some pay for the grown-up villagers, I was just being bored together with the children who started to sit in front of me, and of course, stare. So I decided to imitate. First the staring. Nothing is more fun to make one of those little ones blush. Then I started to imitate how they sat with their hands. For the first minutes they didn`t really get it, but after that the frowns started to change in smiles...and it was just having fun. Indian children however get rowdy soon, so the parents chased them away after a while, leaving me with a young bull.

All this made me realise a thing. My goal in general is to help and advice people with the expertise that I got. But do I want to do this in a business consulting job, where I help the organisations that are already wealthy (relatively speaking)? Or do I want to help the people who are really in need? Question is if I can help them? I think this is an argument often used by the western people...I want to, but I cannot. Why not? Because it demands a major sacrifice on part of your own life. You need to move, your income will not be that high, your work could be harder and proably become your life. Then again, you still need money to buy that ticket, visa, your own food. NGOs and other nonprofit-organisations are not the most wealthy.

Isn`t working for personal wealth/development very selfish? The alternative is to work for others people's wealth/development..and with it your own. Then again, the handpalm-reader in India told me that I am a selfish person. And that I will have two women in my life. On of which I will marry. So what should I do?

I`ll just go and watch Cpt. Kirk at 2:50am on BBC2. Maybe that will give me the answers I need.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The kitchen-prince

The last month felt like two weeks. India is still fresh in my mind. Or maybe just Swati's house. Maybe this is caused by the easy communication I can make with people still there. When they leave the country however, the India as I know it, will be gone.

I have been cooking with a lot of pleasure in the past two weeks. I`m starting to get the "feeling" for it and even openned the cooking-book for some experiments. Some went very well, while others were ok and edible. We`ve been eating a lot of potato's, even more meat (I`m really a carnivore) and of course other vegatables. I didn`t buy that much stuff though, because the refrigarator still had a steady supply of food which has been gathered by my parents. They really buy too much.
This tuesday they will come back, and I will again have some more time for...jobhunting.

About one week ago I had my first little ruenion with a guy (from Afghanistan) who also lived in Swati's house. We talked about the chicken house, girls, what happened after he left Swati's house and of course the future. We did this on a nice terrace in Heerlen, under the comfort of a few beers. I already got a nice invitation to come to Amsterdam, and there are also some vague plans to go to Koln to visit other ex-Swati's house members. I cannot wait!

Another thing I`m looking forward to is Lowlands. I need a festival. I need live music. I`m especially looking forward to sleeping in a tent again after such a long time. After I came back from India my priorities have kind off changed. The television has really decreased in popularity, and even the computer is having a hard time. My guitar is the only winner. Most of the time when some music is playing, I'm stopping with the stuff that I was doing, and picking up my guitar to join the music.

It's cool. But it does take up a lot of time. Time flies when you are having fun..I guess ;)

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Another saturday night, and Close Encounters of the third kind was on television.
I dimmed the lights in the room, and sat down to watch this beautiful movie. I like science fiction. It kind of opens your mind. It dares you to dream of the "impossible". The makers of this movie relied on their imagination to come up with that unforgetable tune with which they communicate with the other lifeforms. They communicate through different tones. Luckily they didn`t speak english like the lifeforms I saw in the original series of Star Trek. I`m rediscovering those as one of the best series ever made for television.

Yesterday there was an episode where Kirk (I envy William Shatner, he kisses a new enchanting girl every episode), McCoy and Spock got kidnapped by some species. In the dark room they find a girl lying on some kind of sofa, and they assume that she has also been kidnapped. Then Kirk becomes the first subject to be "tested" by the aliens. The interogate him and hurt him incredibly with some kind of device. The aliens admire Kirks strength and give him compliments. They however do not answer the question why they are doing this. He gets dumped back, heavily injured, in the black room where his shipmates are and where the girl is.

Suddenly, the girl moves to Kirk, and with some kind of power removes his wounds. In this process she transfers them to her body, where they finally heal. She however feels the pain that he was feeling (perfect opportunity for overacting, and so it is done ;)). The aliens come in the room and announce that they need another subject, who will be subjected to even harsher threatment. McCoy uses his medical equipment to put Kirk and Spock to sleep, and thus sacrifices himself for his shipmates. The girl (who by the way does not have any vocal-chords) looks at all this with amazement.

McCoy is being tortured, close to death. Somehow Kirk and Spock manage to enter the torturing room, together with the girl, who they are trying to save. They see McCoy, and want to help him, but the aliens won`t allow it. They are testing the girl. They are testing her species. They want to see if her species is already so developed that they are willing to sacrifice their lifes for somebody they care about or love. Why do they want to do this? Their solar-system is on the verge of collapse, and they can only afford to transfer one species from their solar-system to a save distance. It was all a test. However, in testing the girl for "Empathy" the aliens lose their own sence of "Empathy". Something that Kirk makes them realise with the usual speech.

So those aliens where not simply evil. They just used the humans as test material. Maybe it was a bit un-ethical, but hey, they took a random sample and accidently Kirk and his friends passed by. There goal was actually relatively good. To test ot to learn another species to care for others of her own (and in this case) other kind. I like it when t.v. makes you think.

Back to Imagination.
I don`t like labels. Labels are created to organise things in your mind, but sadly, labels are also often associated with a lot of preconceptions. As in that famous "good" versus "evil". My opinion: What is good or evil lies in the eyes of the beholder. Labels cause your mind to be closed about something. It might be an easy solution to organise data in your head, or to remember things, but it definitely isn`t always right. Just look at the music industry. There is no other place where there are so many labels. You`ve got Indie, Pop, Rock, Hardrock, Metal, Gothic, Deathmetal, Country, Alt Country, Alternative, Disco, Trance, Dance, Alt Rock, Britpop..etcetc. The sad thing is that some artists are labeled in a certain genre and thus are expected to create that certain kind of music. If they don`t, they are getting a considerable harder time with their fans and with their record-company. Look at Bob Dylan when he started playing electric guitar, look at U2 and their Discotheque. Finally these artists use their imagination to start something new, to radically change something, but part of the audience had different expectations. U2 now returned to getting old on the same sound they invented almost 25 years ago. Dylan didn`t give a sh*t and pushed through. Luckily.

Maybe I just don`t like preconceptions. Maybe I don`t like closed minds.
But do I have an open mind?
The only thing I know is that I like to use my imagination.

They are out there. Somewhere.
She is out there. Somewhere.
You might call me mad (another label).
But without the imagination of others I could not have posted this blog.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Gut Feeling

Is not only just a feeling, but also a great song from a band called "Devo" which I just discovered. It was written by the guy who later wrote the theme of the Rugrats. Yes! THE RUGRATS! This man is obviously a genious.

But back to me. Ahum. Me. I have a gut feeling. And it is not a pleasant one. It is one like this: "I should do something, I should do something, I should do something, I should do something, I should do something, I should do something, I should do something. But what am I doing now? Ah, what I do now is also valuable and necessary, but I feel like a should do something! About what? I don`t know! I want to go looking for a job! Yes that is it! But what do I want? Do I want to find a job in the Netherlands and settle down here? Or do I want to find a job in a foreign country? But Paul, finding a job in a foreign country is a little bit more complicated, and you don`t like complications. Well, then I`ll just have to bite through it? But the money Paul? You`ll probably barely have the money to finance the trip to that possible foreign country. Well, I still have some money left, a one-way trip to any destination should not be a problem. I can buy the ticket back there.

But then you still have to find something. That something is already clearly defined in my head. Maybe I should put it on paper one of these days. I`ve got quite a lot of points. But shouldn`t you be demanding? Why settle for something you don`t like, when you can have something you do like? Why not try at least? Or scan the option of doing it?

Welcome to an average discussion inside my head. Usually ends up in, "don`t worry, it`ll come, eventually", "relax", "Why not?", "We'll see, time will tell".

Sunday, July 01, 2007

One week evaluation

I`m home for one week now. I`m starting to adjust.

The first week I went to a Genesis concert in Dusseldorf. It was an amazing concert. There were dozens of moments where I just felt like crying, because it was so beautiful, so perfect. Let me explain why I had such strong emotions. You`ve been a fan from a band for 16 years, and never you had the opportunity to see them live. From 1992 till 1998 it is basically the only group you are listening to. In 1994 one of their main members decides to quit because it was impossible for him to combine his solo and group career together with his private life. Then they get a new singer and bring out a new cd in 1998. It was well received in Europe, but in America it crashed, together with the tour. They decide to put the band to sleep. Reunion talks had been going on for years, but when Phil Collins decided to have his Farewell tours, hope decreased even further. Then in June 2006, suddenly, there is a reunion. And I got some tickets for that concert. Finally you don`t have to watch those old DVDs lying in your shelf, you can see them in person on stage.

During the concert I sang every line together with mr. Collins. I drummed on my legs. It was the first concert where I could to this for every, and really every, song. The lightshow was simple amazing. Through every song the background changed according to the mood of the music, and the stage also expanded during the show, making the lightshow even more expansive. The sound was perfect, not too loud, not too soft, and no irritating echo. Next to the mr. Collins also showed himself from his humorous side, trying to speak German to the German crowd. We also had the demonstration of the domino effect and public participation during "Throwing it all away" and "I Know what I like (In your wardrobe).

The food there was also great...I had some Salami Pizza, some french fries and most important..a real german bratwurst!

What else did I do this week...I went out for dinner thursday with a good friend of mine to Valkenburg. We went to a restaurant called La Casa. It was a spanish restaurant, so went went straight for the Tappa's section of the menu. There I ordered the Tappa's del Carne (or something like that), which basically boils down to having every different kind of meat on your plate possible. And it was really a lot. And delicious. I was the only one who finished his plate, completely. The next day the toilet had to pay a little bit for it, but I did not get sick. After the dinner we had a beer in Valkenburg (Limburg has some great places to have a beer, visit me and I`ll show you them), after which we went to my friends home to have some more cheaper beers. We chatted about stuff. I told him about the great people I met in India, he told me about his visit in Cannes, Monaco and San Remo and his job.

Besides going out for dinner I am also preparing dinner myself. I decided that I really have to get the routine of cooking, since well, I might be living on my own on a pretty short notice. I also dread to become a person living of fastfood and microwave dinners, bleh...never.

So I made boiled potatoes with brocoli and some pork-chops on one day. Worked out perfectly

Then I made some Reibe-Kuchen. Worked out perfectly.

Then I made some boiled potatoes with cucumber (in a nice sauce) and some cutlets. Again it was all perfectly spiced and it had a great taste.

Then I made some Macaroni. I learned the recipe for the special family sauce, which does not include tomato ketchup (!). Again it was delicious. I actually want to eat the complete pan, but something tells me I should not.

Last sunday and monday I also went shopping for some good music. The cds I bought are all brilliant. The new White Stripes album is probably the best one. This little disc was made with a lots of fun, and when you can hear this in the music, it is also great fun to listen too. It is perhaps a bit less subtle than their last two cds, but it is again pure rock 'n roll.

I posted a video called "No Pussy Blues" from Grinderman on my I-Like application. I love that song. Just look at his face when I sings the lines of his song. This guy (Nick Cave, Australian, you might know him) is 100% in his music when he plays his songs on stage. He just screams his lungs out in this song..out of anger and frustration. You would actually believe he really had that Blues. The song itself is raw, hard and a little bit sexy, just the way I like it. The rest of the cd is a bit less "in your face", but still very good.

The last cd I bought is from the Queens of the Stone Age. One of my family members, who also listens to a lot of music, called it a weird cd. I kinda see that as a compliment. The band is changing its sound into unknown territory. And still they sound like no other band, they sound like the Queens of the Stone Age. There are a lot of easy grooves on this record, and some pretty hard songs (without compromise) also. Again it is all a bit less pollished than the last cd, which I really like. But back to India.

Most of my stories about India have the following structure. First I start explaining them about all the extremes in India. The weather, the poverty, the life of the rich and famous, the garbage, the smell, the noise, the annoying tradesmen who always and everywhere want to sell you something. Despite of these difficulties, it is however still a great country. Why? Because of the people I met there and the house in which I lived. You can see so many temples, palaces and forts. I will forget those, that is why I made most of my pictures there. The people however, the people who lived in Suati's, Orange house and the chicken house, and the occasional friendly Indians, I will never forget. I believe that sometimes I get too "attached" to people too easily, without it really being mutual. From the outside I might seem a bit.."apathetic"..but that is just my calm outside compusure.

But if you ask me the question: Did you want to stay longer? I have to say no. I lost 15 kgs in 5 months. I practically collapsed a bit after Agra and needed a long rest before and after every bus trip I took after that. The country itself was almost destroying me in some ways. The ethical questions you ask yourself at least every week, because of what you see, hear and smell. It's hard and intensive to live there, and I really enjoyed it, but you should not stay too long.

I`ll try my best to meet at least one (non-dutch, cos there will most definitely be a dutch reunion) person again, just like I did after Korea (see the pictures from Pamplona for evidence). Promising something however is very hard, since I don`t know where the wind will blow me...said in Dylanism.

When I went away in that rickshaw on saturday morning a little tear did role down my cheek. I called that place home for 5 months, I`ve seen so many people leave, and now I am the one leaving. It might not be completely mutual for all the obvious reasons, but damn Suati's, I miss you dearly.