A'dam stuffPosted by Jens A.W. Sorensen Thu, October 18, 2012 05:14PM
I admit it!
I struggle (not hard enough some will say) to conquer the Dutch language.
However hard I try to graph the logic (they keep telling me there is one) it
seems to be a losing battle. I am of course aware that just because you lose
one battle you haven’t necessarily lost the war. But this morning I discovered
that the Dutch language war has become even harder to win. They have simply had
the immense cruelty adding another 1.500 words to the Dutch vocabulary – words
that you’ll be able to look up in the ‘Dikke van Dale’, the most respected of
Personally I think that the approximately 240.000 Dutch
words that already exist (according to the same Dikke van Dale) are more than
enough – thank you very much. Why anybody would want to add words like
‘vlaggenschipwinkel’ and ‘woedselwoestijn’ to a vocabulary that already have
words like ‘verantwoordelijkheidsgevoel’ and ‘schubvleugelig’ is totally beyond
me. But what do I know being a native speaker of the much easier Danish
A'dam stuffPosted by Jens A.W. Sorensen Fri, October 12, 2012 12:18PM
the people of The Netherlands voted against the EU sceptic parties in the
general Dutch elections (see a previous post on this blog) and today The European Union has been awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize. If it gets much better you’ll have to wake me up. About time the
economically distressed bloc of 27 countries gets something to cheer about.
prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, which was created by Swedish industrialist
Alfred Nobel and first awarded along with prizes for literature, physics and medicine
in 1901, is given to the EU because the union has been a forerunner for more
than six decades contributing to the advancement of peace and reconciliation,
democracy and human rights in Europe. Personally I’m blessed enough to live in
a EU country of my own choice that gets all the benefits from these six
decades. If I were to put just two tags on life in the Netherlands 'peace' and 'freedom' would certainly be appropriate.
It is also
worth remembering that the EU ranks as the world’s leading provider of aid for
poor nations, with national governments and the central Brussels authorities
donating around 86 billion euros yearly (€ 4 to 5 billion annual in the Netherlands). In my opinion it’s still far from enough and
I personally agree with critics saying that the aid is spread too thinly,
reflecting conflicting national priorities. But this is not the moment to be
critical (there’s another day tomorrow) – today lets drink a toast to good old
Europe and congratulate all of us with this fantastic achievement.
A'dam stuffPosted by Jens A.W. Sorensen Tue, September 18, 2012 02:25PM
Yesterday I received an e-mail from the Expatica
Communications B.V informing me that my blog has been nominated for their ‘i am
not a tourist’ Expat Blog Competition. According to the Expatica homepage I’m
one of the many witty, informative, and even touching bloggers that the
international community in the Netherlands is fortunate to have in their midst.
This is why they have decided to celebrate us bloggers who add a little colour
to expats international experience, and bring expats a little closer together
with an Expat Blog Competition.
It’s of course a great honour and privilege to be nominated
for such a prestigious competition. But as anyone that has watched the Oscars,
or the general election in the Netherlands last week for that matter, will
know, it’s not quite enough being nominated if by the end of the day you end up
with empty hands, or without a seat in the Tweede Kamer (The House of
Representatives) for that matter. So I’ll have to ask you a big favour (thought
he never ask I can hear you think) – please click the below link that will take
you to the page with the nominees – then scroll down until you spot the man
with the hat – et voila – just click ‘Submit your vote’.
By now you’ll be thinking ‘what’s in it for me?’ Actually,
the award for winning the ‘i am not a tourist’ Blog Competition is a
magnificent creative writing workshop with the fantastic Amsterdam Writing
Workshops! So you see it’s a win-win situation. I get a course in creative writing
and you get a (more) professional and interesting written blog.
I’m sure you are ready to vote for me and Adamblog now –
just click the link below! If you not yet ready, you can vote (for Adamblog)
until the ‘i am not a tourist’ Expat Fair is held on the 7th October 2012 in the
Beurs van Berlage in the heart of Amsterdam.I would like to vote for Adamblog to win the Expat Blog
A'dam stuffPosted by Jens A.W. Sorensen Thu, September 13, 2012 11:45AM
By winning 39 seats in yesterday’s general election in the Netherlands Diederik
Samsom and his PvdA party was for me the great winner. OK – Mark Rutte and his ruling VVD won
the election with an amazing 41 seats, but that was predicted more or less all
along. Samsom is for me the great winner because just a month ago the polls
predicted his party to win only 15 seats. Now it will surely be in the
government and he himself has emerged as a candidate for becoming the next
winner is also the Netherlands, because the result is a reinforcement of Dutch
support for Europe. Although both the VVD and the PvdA have lashed out at the
EU status quo in the campaigns, they have never questioned the membership of
the Eurozone – or the EU for that matter. Not like the PVV and the SP that
became the elections to greatest losers. The support for Geert Wilders'
anti-immigration and anti-Europe party PVV dropped by a shocking (for him and
his party) 43 percent. The party now ‘only’ holds 15 seats and it gives me
great pleasure to write that they will play no role in the coming coalition.
The socialist party (SP) kept their 15 seats, but still had a horrific
election. Only a month ago the polls predicted Emile Roemer and his EU sceptical
party to become the biggest and himself to become the new Prime Minister.
‘last minute’ (was it?) shift away from the SP and PVV shows clearly that the
Netherlands' are committed to its continuing relationship with Europe and to
keep the Eurozone's fifth largest economy closely allied with the economic
powerhouse of Germany. It also shows that the Dutch voters want to return to
the centre and to end fringe politics.
Maybe there’s a chance after four elections and five different governments
in only 10 years, that the coming coalition will be able to rule for the maximum four years.
If VVD and PvdA can only agree an alliance, they will have 80 seats, a
majority in the 150-seat parliament. But it’s more likely that both parties
will feel more comfortable in each others company if there is a third party (or
maybe even a fourth) involved. Time will tell – but please have some patience –
last time it took 127 days after the election to form a government. What I can
tell you already now is that the next Prime Minister in the Netherlands will
either be called Mark Rutte or Diederik Samsom.
A'dam stuffPosted by Jens A.W. Sorensen Wed, September 12, 2012 08:48AM
Finally the big day has arrived. The day for the Dutch citizens to vote in the general
election and to decide who’s going to govern the Netherlands for the next four
years – depending on their ability to find a constellation that can make it
work for that amount of time. Recent history will tell you its not going to
happen. The last 10 years we’ve had four general elections and five different
governments. Anyhow, I’m not really going to talk about the possible outcome.
What do I really care? I can’t even vote. Yes, I do live in Holland. Yes, I do
pay tax in Holland. Yes, I do put up with the laws in Holland (and keep them
for the most). Yes, I do know quite a bit about the Dutch political system
(using the knowledge professionally). Actually I do my outmost to be a good and
worthy citizen of the Netherlands and Amsterdam.
However, all that amounts to very little when it comes to my
(human) right to vote. But you’re Danish you may think. Surely you can vote in
your own general election. No I can’t. If you want to vote in a Danish general
election it’s not enough to be the owner of a (legal) Danish passport. You have
to live in the country or at least have a strong connection to it (could be
property I suppose). So being a Dane living in Holland also disqualifies me
from voting in Denmark. Had I been the other way around (Dutch in Denmark) I
would have been able to vote in today’s Dutch election. As long as you only
have a Dutch passport (and not dual citizenship) you can live anywhere abroad
(more than half a million Dutch voters actual do) and still vote (only around
10 percent do).
12 and half million Dutch citizens will today have the
possibility to vote – but only around 75 percent will use this constitutional
right to have their say in the future governing of the Netherlands. In Denmark
almost 90 percent use this right whenever there’s a Danish general election.
Yes, I come from a nation that takes these matters very seriously and therefore
it’s not easy for me being disqualified from using my (human) right on this
election day in the Netherlands. If you have it, use it!
A'dam stuffPosted by Jens A.W. Sorensen Mon, September 03, 2012 02:27PM
Yesterday morning before going to church I was on the radio
(that's the Danish Broadcasting Corporation) talking about the upcoming Dutch election to
the Tweede Kamer and especially about a campaign in the Netherlands urging
people to vote for the pro-marijuana political parties (or cannabis parties) in
an effort to change the much talked about law that restricts sales of cannabis
to foreigners. The law, already effectuated in Maastricht, will from the 1st
of January 2013 effectively transform all local coffee shops into private
clubs. This means that they can only sell to people with Dutch residents that
carry a ‘cannabis card’. That’s a very serious threat to the existence of most
coffee shops as their main income is generated from selling to tourists.
Therefore, for most coffee shop owners and their customers
the election comes at just the right moment. With one foot in the grave they’ve
been given a lifeline. If only the cannabis parties can get a majority (76
seats out of 150) to form the new government, then everything will be well.
Unfortunately, at the moment (nine days from election day) the polls gives the
majority to the parties that voted for the law in the first place. And there
are more bad news for the campaigners, because the two biggest cannabis parties
– the Socialist Party (SP) and the Labour party (PvdA) are not that keen to
work together in a future Dutch government. There’re simply to many issues on
which they do not agree. May I humbly as an expat not being able (read: allowed)
to influence the proceedings with my vote (but I can pay tax) suggest that the
leader of the SP (the Honourable Emile Roemer) and the leader of the PvdA (the
equally Honourable Diederik Samson) meet over a nice cup of coffee (or two) and
a joint (or two) in one of the still legal coffee shops (could be in Amsterdam)
to settle their differences. It’s well known that a friend with weed is a
A'dam stuffPosted by Jens A.W. Sorensen Thu, August 23, 2012 05:29PM
the Canadian singer-songwriter, musician, poet, novelist, prophet and, dare I
say it, guru Leonard Cohen and his band gave us almost three and a half hours
of pure musical pleasure at the wonderful Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam. A
mature audience, although a little subdued in the beginning, ended the concert
on their feet and with both arms raised towards the sky while their hands applauded wildly. The
concert started at 8pm sharp (as announced in the program) and at 11.45pm we
reluctantly had to let a still peppy Leonard and his fantastic band leave the
stage. Thank you to the Amsterdam council for letting the concert continue
beyond the allowed time limit, which is normally 11.30pm. Leonard Cohen’s
catalogue of songs is substantial, so although he gave us almost four hours of
music, there’s always room for discussing if the set list was the right one. But
with around 30 songs (sorry, lost count) there were plenty to satisfy everyone.
Every song performed with amazing professionalism and with the feeling that Mr.
Cohen and his 10 friends in the band love the music and the songs as much as we
do. Let's leave the run-of-the-mill stuff to others, shall we?
there are plenty of reasons why the concert last night was special. A concert I
shared with a couple of friends and my beautiful wife. First of all Leonard Cohen’s
music holds a special meaning for both of us. One of the first presents I gave
her after we met in March 2009 was the album ‘I’m Your Man’ (which I was and
still is) thereby introducing her to his music. A few months later we travelled
to Antwerp to see him play – the next day we got engaged (the diamond city is
not a bad place to buy rings). Secondly the concert was in the city where we share
our wonderful and blessed lives and having it at the Olympic Stadium it will be hard to find a more beautiful venue in Europe. Strangely enough the next concert on
the tour is in Copenhagen at the Rosenborg Castle (another beautiful venue), where
I heard Leonard Cohen in 2008 just before I made the decision moving to Amsterdam. So in
a way you can say that with the concert last
night in Amsterdam we’ve come full circle (me and Leonard). Somehow I have the
filing that this will be my last concert with Mr. Cohen, who’s after all
turns 78 on the 21st September. Should he make the decision to stop touring
after the last concert in New York on the 20 December (concert number 56 since
the tour started in Ghent 12th August) I doubt anyone will blame
him. So long, Leonard.
A'dam stuffPosted by Jens A.W. Sorensen Tue, August 21, 2012 03:54PM
entrepreneur and journalist Alexander Klöpping has instigated a campaign to
stop the paper phone book being automatically distributed to every household
(around 7.5 millions) in the Netherlands. Dutch telecoms law actually states,
the company has to do this. In a country having the most broadband
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants in Europe I doubt very much that a decision
by the MP’s to change the law will start riots in the streets. Personally I
haven’t used a phone book for more than 10 years. When did you last use one?
it was just a question of time until it (also) finally dawned upon the
authorities that the traditional phone book on print was made obsolete by
the internet years ago and that no one really wants it. It’s interesting
however, that a journalist is helping with the realisation that it’s a waste of
paper to print and distribute it. You may ask (and I know that the younger
generation do) when the same realisation will hit the traditional newspaper in
print (yes, it's also called a newspaper online)? Please don’t ask me to give you the answer to this one. I’m just a humble freelance journalist that can’t afford to write for the
newspapers (print or online) anyway.
A'dam stuffPosted by Jens A.W. Sorensen Thu, August 16, 2012 03:27PM
There is plenty to get annoyed about in Amsterdam. We’re not
different from any other big city. I could easily make a long list of the
greatest Amsterdam annoyances – but as no one has asked me to come here in the
first place I rather leave such a list to someone else. I could for example
leave it to our local Amsterdam paper Het Parool (yes, I’m a subscriber) to
make it – which they in fact have done in the latest edition of the paper. It
makes interesting reading.
The idea of making the list in the first place was inspired by an incident in Amsterdam last Saturday. An unknown (not anymore)
gay photographer was about to kiss his boyfriend on a square in the West of
Amsterdam when a nearby snackbar owner (claiming not to be homophobic) intervened
and asked them to stop it and to leave the square. Apart from ignoring the
request to stop, the photographer got so annoyed about the interference in his
love life that he decided to arrange a kis-in on the very same square, which
actually attracted about 100 'kissers' last night (but that’s another story).
Anyhow, now Het Parool has made a survey among the citizens to make a list of the 20 greatest annoyances in Amsterdam.Greatest Amsterdam annoyances (most to least):
Men scratching their crotch
Men with naked torsos on terraces
Two men kissing
Topless (females) in the parks
Two women kissing
Men with naked torsos in the streets
Man and woman kissing
Two men holding each other intimately
Two women holding each other intimately
Man and woman holding each other intimately
Topless on the beach
Men walking hand in hand
Women walking hand in hand
Man and woman walking hand in hand
You can make your own conclusions about the list. Personally
I’m very disappointed that ‘Scooters on pavement’, ‘Scooters on bicycle lanes’
‘Bicycles on pavement’, ‘Dog shit on pavement’, ‘Late partying on balconies’,
‘Late partying with open windows’, ‘Littering’, ‘Putting rubbish out at any
time’, ‘Talking in cinemas’, ‘Smoking (too much) cannabis’, ‘Smoking cigarettes everywhere’,
‘Drinking (too much) alcohol’, ‘Putting feet on train/tram/bus seats’ and ‘Loud mobile
talk’ did not make the list. But as I’ve already mentioned no one asked me to
come here in the first place, so I’m perfectly happy for others to compile a
list of the greatest Amsterdam annoyances.
A'dam stuffPosted by Jens A.W. Sorensen Tue, August 14, 2012 05:51PM
Hurrah – Dutch economy has grown in the first two quarters
of 2012; exports are up with almost four percent on the previous quarter and
the retail trade has grown one percent. Does that mean recession is finally
over in the Netherlands? Not if you had asked the 725 companies that went
bankrupt in July (the largest amount in one single month for the past 20 years)
or if you ask the housing market. And certainly not if you ask our local
football club Ajax Amsterdam – according to an unnamed source (probably not the
club’s commercial director Henri van der Aat or financial director Jeroen Slop)
they have enormous financial problems. A fact that has been kept a secret since early 2011 when former chairman
Uri Coronel and former general director Rick van den Boog left behind a
But that’s a football club I can hear you thinking. They
don’t need a recession to have financial problems. And you’re of course right.
But it’s a mystery to me how it’s possible to have financial problems when you
have absolutely no problems selling your ‘product’? Actually, it’s an insult to
the many companies (almost 4,500 the first seven months) that has gone bankrupt
because they can’t (sell their products). Any company, big or small, would
probably think they were in paradise if they every two weeks had the
possibility to sell 50.000 units (tickets) at a minimum price of €50 per unit
(that’s a mere 2,5 million) – not
to mention having around 90.000 customers (members) paying an annual fee for
their membership card (I pay around € 50 for my card). And what about the
income generated from selling the hugely attractive Ajax brand. If the many
thousands replica shirts (€80 for the latest edition) you see at the Amsterdam
Arena on match day or in general in Amsterdam is anything to go by, we’re
talking damn good business here. On top of that they’re constantly selling all
their best players (for millions). Did I mention all the sponsors?
Anyhow, it’s a paradox that a company that generates so much
business still has huge financial problems and that while the number of
companies filing for bankruptcy for not generating enough (business) has
exploded with many more to come Ajax Amsterdam will not be one of them.