Saturday, 28 April 2012

Wrong message

Ladies, keep your men at home! Instead of letting them go to Ukraine for the Euro 2012 and meet half-naked Ukrainian girls give them a draught beer dispenser. The one you can get for free if you let the Nederlandse Energie Maatschappij supply your home with electricity.

That was the message that the NLE was trying to send with their TV-commercials. And this message caused a slight diplomatic unrest between Ukraine and the Netherlands. According to the Ukrainian authorities this is offensive to Ukrainians and sends out the wrong message to people in the Netherlands.

I tried to Google images of ´Ukrainian women´. Julia Timoshenko appears on the top. Yes, that´s what NLE should have talked about. A political prisoner who allegedly was beaten up by the prison guards. That sends the right message.

Or the measles outbreak in Ukraine and the increased risk of contracting measles during the European Football Championships 2012. So do get a vaccine. And while you´re at it also do get vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and polio.

Maybe mentioning the outrageous hotel prices would be less offensive. And the lack of budget airlines. And the fact that you will be charged tree times the price for everything if you don´t speak spotless Ukrainian or Russian.

Oh wait, Ukrainian women are not an issue anymore and the diplomats have something else on their hands: explosions in Dnepropetrovsk. Officially nothing is known about the organisers of the explosions, but the rumours say these maybe protests against the Timoshenko case. The circle is round.

Ukraine is ready for the Euro 2012 and you are welcome. Or sign a contract with the NLEnergie and get your beer dispenser.

PS on a bright note: you didn't forget to guess, did you?

Monday, 23 April 2012


The great guessing circus has started now that everyone knows I am pregnant. Asking about the gender of the future baby is a winner, but trying to predict the gender is a good second.
“Are you nauseous? It’s a girl.”
“Do you crave savoury foods? It must be a boy.”
“Your belly is not pointy. It’s definitely a girl.”
“You look too beautiful to carry a girl. You’ll get a boy.”
“Do you think it’s a girl? Then probably it’s a girl.”
“Are you convinced it’s a girl? Then it should be a boy.”
“Low blood pressure? Girl.”
“Constipation? Boy.”

 Even though it all sounds like a load of, you know, nonsense people seem to enjoy guessing. Assuming you might like that too I set up a poll (on the right side of this blog) in which you can try your prediction skills. You can do so till May 7th. Then I expect to know the gender of the baby (if all goes well) and will publish the results. If you feel you need more information to make an educated guess, feel free to ask questions in the comments section, by e-mail, phone, in person, on Facebook or Twitter. Ready, steady, go!

 PS According to my analysis it’s a girl. The father refrains from commentary.

Melanie – Brand New Key

Monday, 16 April 2012

English accent

Somehow at some point in time I must have passed through a secret magic door. Or maybe I ate something magic. Maybe my aura has changed since I’m pregnant. But something definitely happened and now all new people I meet assume I don’t speak Dutch.

My phone rings.
“Met Alexandra Mirskikh.”
“Goedemiddag, U spreekt met M. van de Jansen Makelaars.”
“Oh, I am sorry, I will speak English!”
“Oh, u spreekt wel Nederlands?”
“Oh, Ik hoor ZO’N Engels accent! Vandaar.”
Moi? English accent?

People address me in English even if they met me before and had a whole conversation with me in Dutch. Apparently I don’t sound convincing. The biggest problem is not even that people speak English to me. The problem is that they are all Dutch and their English is, well... Dunglish. I constantly need to translate that back to Dutch to understand what they actually mean.

A couple of weeks ago we were visiting a house we’d like to rent. We had a very nice chat with the two young property agents, twenty minutes all in Dutch. After we expressed our interest, they told us we had to sign a document confirming our intention to rent. They’d send us the form that we could fill in and return. Fine. Two hours later I find the document in my e-mail. In English, of course.

“Hereinafter to be referred to as ‘lessee’, that he/she is in expectation of the written agreement based on the model ROZ incl. terms and conditions, by signing this acceptance form has accepted to, per 01/05/2012 renting the following residence...” Help! I need extra English classes. I let Google Translate turn it to Dutch and it made perfect sense. BTW, the one who was to be referred to as 'lessee' was called 'tenant' all through the rest of the document.

The form went on describing the conditions of the rent. I was almost ready to sign when I saw this: “Extra terms: crane in toilet will be installed.” Oh no! Please! I don’t want a crane in my toilet! A faucet will do just fine.

I had an appointment this morning and even before I could greet the person I was meeting she asked: “Do you speak Dutch?” Oh please, despite that detached expression on my face I am not that foreign. I’m just pregnant.

I was losing all trust in my Dutchiness when I walked into the local pharmacy this afternoon. It was very busy. There was one Turkish man, one Moroccan, a Turkish woman with a fat child, an Indian lady, a Polish guy, two Surinamese girls and some Asian boy (could not place him). I killed the waiting time by trying to guess where the woman behind the counter got her weird accent. There, in that pharmacy everyone assumes that everybody can speak Dutch. And it all works out just fine. Very reassuring.

Thursday, 5 April 2012


Last Monday I brought my cat to the vet clinic for castration. Yeah cruel, sad and stuff. But I think it would be best for all of us (my cat included) if he is castrated. The animal was meowing in his cage. He looked scared and stressed, but I held strong. I handed the cage over to the nice lady who told me I could pick him up after noon.

I left trying to mind my own business and not think of how unhappy my cat was over there. I felt sorry for him, but at the same time I felt I was doing a very good job caring for my animal. I also ordered them to take care of his ears and to cut his nails. I felt quite content. One hour later the clinic called.
“You brought your cat for castration this morning.”
“Yes, I did.”
“Well, we cannot castrate him, because he has no testicles.”

I guess I still need to learn some things about cats.

Devendra Banhart - Santa Maria de la Feira

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