The title of a rather cheesy song by a Swedish girl called Emilia that was a big hit somewhere in the late nineties. More than ten years down the line it still pops up in my head every now and again. In spite of being a big girl these days, it still is a big, big world too. Which I find hugely fascinating yet intimidating at occassions...

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Frida & Diego

Frida Kahlo started to fascinate me at the time when the movie "Frida", about her life, was a big hit. Firstly because I found her paintings mesmerizing, secondly because I had a hard time comprehending why such a beautiful, passionate and talented young woman would put up with the likes of Diego Rivera. Ever seen a picture of the two of them together? There you are! Their unlikely union has been compared (by Frida's disapproving mother..) to that of an elephant and a dove...

Meanwhile, we've all moved on in a life and all have gained experiences that we didn't have before... Perhaps we could have don without some of them... Let me say that I now am more inclined to understand a love affair that seems destructive, but yet carries on in time. But still..
Visiting an exhibition at the wonderful Pera Museum in Istanbul on both of their works, underlined for me that Frida most certainly deserved a movie about her life. Over twenty years her senior, the number of painting he made over time (approximately 140 paintings and a similar amount of drawings) was far bigger than hers. Not in the least because Frida limited herself to the subject she knew she was expert at: herself.
Looking at the Gelman Collection (Jacques and Natasha Gelman were avid collectioners of Mexican art) the reverse could be concluded. Far more works by Frida Kahlo are on display than Rivera's. All of them depict a stage from Frida's life: from family ties and her prevailing love for Rivera via physical pain through the bus accident she was in at the age of 18 (and miraculously survived) to psychological pain caused by her inability to have children.

Looking at her paintings I couldn't help but admire her: all of them have her trademark, are clearly recognizable. Yes, she's a surrealist but yet it is so simple and clear what the works signify...
What I didn't know but learned at this wonderful exhibition is that in the last years of her life Frida didn't paint so much anymore. Her health problems caused her to be tied to the bed which inspired her to start drawing. This allowed her to easily work out fantasies in a spontaneous and direct manner. Also she started keeping a diary. Not a chronological one, but a depiction of her life at the time. The year before her death Frida was left devastated by the amputation of her foot, that had started to be gangrenous. It cause her to create the following:

The caption: Feet, why do I want them if I have wings to fly?

Frida's death transformed Diego Rivera, literally a monumental man into a sample of "sadness and physical detoriation". As being said, "behind every great man there is a great woman" and for Diego and Frida this certainly rang true: he died within three years after her.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Hamam - The Turkish Bath

What to do on a rainy day in Istanbul? Go to the Modern Art Museum! Topkapi Palace! Shopping in the Bazaar! But today was exceptionally dreary. In fact, it made not want to go away more than 100 meters from the house. And what did I spot within that distance from the house? A tiny little hamam that was also catering for women. Very low key and inexpensive as I'm not finding myself in a touristic area. So I decide that this place is where I'm going to spend my afternoon.
Upon entrance, this is pretty much what I see:

Only this place is tiny, like I said, and there's NO MEN in there. It's females only. All the ladies beckon me to come in and one of them explains me what the prices are. Ten lira for the hamam and another ten for keşe (washing) and massage. From previous visits I remember I have to keep my knickers on: first occasion I -unknowingly - walked in exposing myself and this was NOT appreciated.
An old lady takes me to the steam room where I'm left for a while with a plastic bowl. Immediately the heat is going to my head so I automatically start pouring luke warm water over myself. I observe these days it is allowed to expose one's privates: a couple of women are not wearing their underwear and nobody seems to mind at all. I'm surrounded by women who busy themselves with washing their hair, scrubbing one another's back, clipping their toe nails and chatting a lot! The ceiling is high so it sounds pretty loud..
When the old lady comes back in she invites me to lie down on the hot stone in the middle of the room. As soon as I'm on my back she starts to scrub my skin with a rough wash cloth. This is not for the tender hearted: she's rubbing so hard that the skin peels off in little black rolls. This is a quite familiar phenomenon for hamams: people usually can't believe they're that dirty, but usually they don't clean themselves that thoroughly... Front, back, legs and arms. After that, she washes all the dirt and grime away and I'm left by myself for a while again. She comes back asking the other women in the room for some shampoo; you're supposed to bring your own here which I haven't done. She makes me sit in front of her on the floor to wash my hair. This makes me laugh: back to the days where I was a very little girl with my gran! Than back on the hot stone again. Time for some soft washing. I like this bit, as they use lots and lots of foam. It is collected in a long, hollow washing cloth after which you disappear under it! I love the traditional product that is used, a soft green soap smelling of roses. I'm being washed and while some of my muscles are being squeezed. She leaves again and this time doesn't come back.. When I decide enough is enough - after all, how much heat can a person take? - I find her near the entrance. We're finished. Somehow disappointed about the massage, though I should be ashamed of myself: an old lady like that doing such labour in that temperature! Ofcourse I leave very clean and very relaxed.

Thursday, 5 August 2010


İ surely am a sucker for books with a good story. Books in general are indispensable in life. Books are one's best friend: at a very early age İ learned that with a book, you're never lonely. With age, İ seemed to loose the ability to loose myself in a story a bit. Why? Perhaps age. The world around holds astonishes me far less than it used to. And so does a story. With some exceptions. İsabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Yashar Kemal, to name a few. And İ have to admit that the first two episodes of the Harry Potter saga had me under their spell. That is, until İ got fed up with Quidditch...

Now Bliss. İ got a hold of this book by Livanelli in Çeşme. İn a country such as Turkey you can't be too picky when looking for a non Turkish book, so İ though "why not?" And a good choice it was, especially since one of my goals for this vacation was read, read, read. İ couldn't put this one down!

Livaneli is not famous for his writing alone, but also as an accomplished musician and film director. A politically engaged one for that matter. During the coup of 1971he was incarcerated and after that lived in exile in Sweden, France and Greece for years, only to return to his native country Turkey in 1984. To my (Dutch) opinion this isn't a political book, but it's undeniably there all the time: political contrasts between people. As an independent member of parliament Livaneli must surely know what can/cannot be said.

Meryem is only an innocent fifteen year old girl when her uncle, a prominent leader of a dervish order first rapes her and then, as the leader of the clan, sentences her to death for shaming the family. His son Cemal, suffering from posttraumatic stress after returning from fighting the PKK during his militairy service in the far east of the country is appointed to carry out the act. İnitially he doesn't see any problem in acting out this honor killing, but at the 'moment supreme' finds himself unable to do so. There's nothing left to do for the two of them but to flee together.
This takes them to the Aegean Coast where this strange duo, that absolutely cannot communicate with one another meets the professor. He manages to get Meryem out of her shell, but also represents a world that causes for Cemal to withdraw even further within himself and his memories. The three main characters will influence one another's destinies in a way that none of them could have imagined. Personally, İ found it very gratifying that the one that didn't seem to have a life ahead of her ends up as the only one living in bliss.

Read it! İ will definitely try and get a hold of the film upon return..

Thursday, 29 July 2010

I`m dreaming of spring...

Needed to get back on my own two feet and oh boy, am İ in the right place for that! After getting ill in İstanbul, İ`m not sure if Erzurum`s altitude did me much good. (İn spite of my saviours..) Fact is, that İ started feeling better after İ set eyes on Datça Peninsula again, breathed and felt it`s air on my skin and was able to do what İ like best, pretty much: live outdoors. Which doesn`t explain by far why İ like it here so much and decided to come back after eight years of absence. İn spite of the city of Datça bursting out of it seams: it must have at least tripled behind my back.
Ever smelt pine trees in hot weather? Listened to a deafening chirping cricket orchestra? Stayed in a place that resembles, according to local poet Can Yücel like the "faraway giraffe of Anatolia"? Looked at the landscape and been able to imagine it would crumble under your fingers if you chose to touch it? Which would be impossible, history has proven the place has been there since ages! Besides, Unesco keeps an eye on things as they identified the region as one of a hundred spots on earth in need of protection. Have you ever praised yourself lucky you left your stiletto`s at home cause they wouldn`t survive the cobblestones in Eskidatça, which is called home during your stay? Suffered a wild busride of an hour, just to get there? And then the Blue Voyage, which ofcourse can be taken anywhere at the Aegean or Mediteranean Coast here in Turkey, but which shouldn`t be left unmentioned as it gives me unmentionable pleasure each time İ take one! Can`t wait for the next one.....
Perhaps that next time could be spring.. Spring is apparently the time flowers here burst from under every stone. Explains also why the region is called "Anatolia`s Book of Medicinal Herbs". The weather won`t be as scorching as it is during summer. Yes, from now on İ`ll be dreaming of spring.

Apologies again for the lack of distraction in the form of photo`s. And also for spelling errors, which there must be in abundance as the system only does Turkish spelling. Not to mention the Turkish keyboard...

Thursday, 22 July 2010


"I am the girl of a hundred lists, from what shall I wear, to who I have kissed!" That good old Gogo's song was playing over and over again in my head when I took off to Turkey. (Was also going to add the clip, for all you eighties fans but for some reason YouTube has been banned here...) Didn't really mind the clothes or kisses (double yuk!) but had a loooooong list of places to visit and things to do during my month here. Though I will always, always practice the policy of being flexible about plans when leaving for a certain destination. After all, life is what happens to you while you`re busy making other plans..

Good job I did.
Already on my second day in Istanbul I became quite ill. Woke up before dawn having to empty my bowels, feeling like I wanted to puke (which is quite hard on an empty stomach), sweating like there was no tomorrow and hardly able to carry my own weight.
No worries, these things happen when one's traveling and mineral water works miracles! Unfortunately the next morning, I didn't feel any better. On the contrary.
As I am a firm believer in breakfasts, dragging myself upstairs to the terrace seemed like a good idea. Only two flights of stairs but İ didn`t manage in one go. Gave the poor breakfast girl a fright by making a somewhat zigzaging entrance. Downright freaked her out after İ spilt the contents of my stomach into a plastic bag that she managed to hand me over right in time. Two people had to help me get back to my room, cause İ decided sleeping was a much, much better idea... Don`t remember much of the days after it. Only that İ couldn`t eat, couldn`t walk and sounded if İ were drunk as soon as İ tried to say something. For the record: no alcohol has entered my body since İ entered Turkey.
Had to postpone the flight to Erzurum with one day. Only then did İ feel capable of traveling. Not that İ was better: not by a long shot. My kind hosts took me to see a family doctor who decided at first glance that there couldn`t be anything serious the matter with me. Example of healthiness! İt took only a little bit of blood to reveal the truth: some infections, more than likely caused by food poisoning. İ probably claimed on more than one occasion that this would never happen to me, so İ`ll hereby eat my hat...

Getting back on track by relaxing in Datça. Did some yoga this morning and no, The Dog (a yoga position, google it if you wish cause İ`m on a holiday and İ`ve been ill!) didn`t make me collapse. İ`m doing just fine.
Looks like İ`m back on track.

Monday, 12 July 2010

The Day After.

It's all over now. I feel like having a bad hangover without the alcohol. We're a nation of desillusioned football fans. Any fellow football fan with a heart will understand. Ofcourse we'll be back in a couple of years. Whatever people say about us right now, we're resilient folks. We'll rear our orange heads again, without a shadow of a doubt. Whether they like it or not!
But not right now... Still too busy licking our wounds, so cut us some slack.
Fair or unfair, deserved or undeserved... We're crushed! And what does one do at such an occassion? Time out! Out with the orange! Have a break. And see you in two years or so...

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Yes, I do!

Thanks to the economic recession, fewer people got married in the Netherlands over 2009 than in the years before. That doesn't necessarily mean we favour living together to wedlock these days. On the contrary: surveys have shown that young people still regard marriage as a long term goal. Entering into matrimony is what 75 % of them expect to do at some point in their lives. They just postpone taking the big leap for a little bit longer. Here is a fine example of one of our youngest enthousiasts...

Yesterday was the day our brother got married! Much to my surprise, I might add, though I seem to be the only one. After all, he's the hippie among us three siblings! Isn't the general idea to just make lots of love and be freeeeeee?
What little did I know: tying the knot seems to always have been the intention and here's one couple that didn't want to wait anymore!

Ofcourse, us fervent mockers of marriage really do think this is all besides the point. If you choose to be with another person, why does that necessarily have to be on specific day in your life only? Why can it not be... every other day, from this point forward?
It's quite clear we think this is all rather funny. See us laughing our heads off?

* figures on marriage etc. found at

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

I'm so excited!

"I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it, I'm about to loose control and I think I like it!"
Orange Fever first caught me back in '78 at a veeeeeeery tender age when "we" "nearly" became Champions of the World. If only Robbie Rensenbrink hadn't shot on the post in the very first minute of the match... In the years following, I didn't loose that fever in spite of the men in orange not getting very lucky. In fact, from time to time they were kind of... crap.
So what does a girl do when she finds herself in Paris in '88, where she's working as a "jeune fille au pair" and disappointingly watches her favourite team getting beaten one-nil by the Soviet Union at the very first game? I can answer that! It'll make her think: you're young, you're in Paris... why bother going through the hassle watching a bunch of overrated w****** getting whipped once again?
So she doesn't bother. And lives to regret it! Weeks later, still in Paris, she runs in to this French Prince Charming who compliments her on being Dutch: "Aaaah!! Vous-etes les champions hein!" She wants to start: "Waddaya mean champions, we're always crap".
But then she bows her head in shame. And it still is there. Cause so many years down the line, it seems as if all that glory has never occured. As far as she's concerned anyhow. She promises herself never to miss another championship again. But finds herself being disappointed time and time again. Never mind: it's always enjoyable as long as it lasts. Also, she feels she should support her team no matter what. The Dutch will only do the Polonaise when they're winning, but the Brazilians will still dance the Samba after they've lost. Now who needs that kind of supporters!? The Dutch can't dance, but that shouldn't stop them from trying to learn!
So... we're writing the year 2010. And the Men in Orange made it further into the tournament than they have done for years and years. Finally I feel it: I've caught that good old Orange Fever again. In spite of.. everything! The past, orange not really being my color, the team not being as sympathetic as they used be to and their play not as gracious as it was in the good old days.. But after watching them win five games in a row, singing our national anthem together with kids from all sorts of backgrounds and deciding I don't look as bad in orange as long as I have a tan I finally succomb.
I reckon there's only one group of people back here that will hope from the bottom of their hearts it won't happen again: houseboat owners in Amsterdam... And who can blame them!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Leaving on a jet plane.

Travelling to me is all about the anticipation. To think about a destination, get started on the reading up, do research and make notes on places I'd like to visit.. I draw a little map and take pictures of my trip in my head! Never mind what I'll end up doing,the plan is a loose one. Perhaps I enjoy this preparation part even more than the journey itself. Well... almost.
After all, one's travellings might just end up in a rather stressful manner!
- Will I make it to the airport in time?
- Let me think, did I forget anything or not.. Passport: check. Ticket: check. Creditcard: check. Never mind the other stuff, it will more than likely be available no matter what the destination is... If not, I'll just have to make do.
But than the arrival: it can definitely make the whole thing start off on the wrong foot. There's no impression like the first one so better make it a good one. Consequently: where shall I stay that very first night at my destination and how will I get there? I don't want to deal with annoying cab drivers and certainly don't want to have them drive me around to an unknown destination in the dark of night when I'm shattered by the journey. I think I'm past that...

No worries! Some people like crosswords, I like making a plan. An initial plan. A loose plan. Just to get me started. Than I'll take things from there. Without a doubt, I'll have a great trip.