A transition phase

With quite some effort he stiffly unlocked the rusted but still living gate. Hereafter I expected him to stroll up his sleeves, gain some extra air and tighten his muscles wherewith he would supposedly prepare himself for the mighty operation of ‘opening the gate’, but the protrusion of his two fingers followed by some minor force was enough to make the gate glide open in a matter of seconds. Surprised I looked up, his unruffled happy face stared right into my face, and then into the face of my friend José who was standing just a knuckle joint away from me; “Are you coming or what?!” were the words that came nonchalantly out of his mouth. While that phrase was flying through the air in the process of reaching José’s and my system, he had already taken off into the large dried up field headed behind him and in front of us, casually he was walking after the aged fences that lined the gate. José and I immediately searched for each others eyes to see what we thought about the situation, but unlike usual I could not read his mind, not even bits. As a matter of fact, in that twinkle of time I saw all of a sudden nothing more but two friends that just graduated from high school, bewilderedly realizing that they were standing somewhere in the desert of Jordan, facing some stranger who offered them a cup of Arab coffee. We both knew that this trip had forced us to be more thoughtful about which person to listen to, which person to follow and especially which person to trust, but we also knew that at this point we’d rather surrender ourselves to the naive and irresponsible us, and just blindly follow the man.

Usually when I am trying to explain myself for a stupid action I underwent, I have to think for a while myself, because at the moment of defending or clarifying my action I don’t completely remember why I did what I’d done. But I guess that the excuse I gave myself back then, for surrendering myself to be naive and irresponsible, was because of the exhausted state me and José were in, plus the fact that we actually felt okay with this stranger. In that instant we full-heartedly believed that we were unable to purport our mature, grown-up selfs. Around a week before, we had our graduation and farewell to the boarding school and its people which we lived in and with for two filled years. These happenings were emotionally loaded and, unconsciously but consciously consumed untold piles of energy, which affected me obviously emotional but surely also physical wise. Besides that, the travel till then through Jordan had eaten up lots of our strength since we were living on not much more than canned food. The situation in which we were in was confusing, and I can say now that traveling from this unsettling point through a new interesting country, which in the mean time fed us up with the challenge of our newly learned skill as ‘being responsible’ and which above that by surprise also fetched us with a culture shock, made it even more confusing.

Anyway, José and I ease-fully nodded one by one confirming our befogged state and the agreement of following this man, who by then already had been vanished from our sight.

In reality it took only a few seconds till we decided to follow the man. We entered the land and curiously looked around to see what this place was all about. When we got sight of the man, we saw that he was not alone. The man we knew for relatively longer than the other said, while walking in our direction: “Look this is my friend Omar, he’ll make the best coffee in Aqaba for us!”. We started to talk with them and figured out the man that invited us was named Eyad. He brought us some white plastic chairs and encouraged us to sit down. I was struck by Eyad and his excitement. He was so energetic and enthusiastic, he couldn’t stop moving and talking, and just kept on explaining about the place we were at and the coffee that was being made. We asked him some questions and full delight he answered them, having a cigarrete in between his index finger and his middle finger. The field we were at was the playground of an old public school, which laid in the outskirts of the City Aqaba. The locations of this school was if to be described; in a desert between two opposing sandy mountains which were both clearly visible from the schools point. It was 7 o’clock in the afternoon and the temperature already decreased to a more bearable comfortable and soothing degree. We all sat down when Omar came back with a plate filled with Coffee. The created convention begun a bit awkward, but as the time passed it became more delightful than ever expected.

The sun slowly went down and the sky turned from beaming the fields yellow and orange, to beaming it purple and dark blue. The fields looked rather mournful, somber, and maybe even sorrowful when the sun completely buried itself in the earth. The literal atmosphere indicated the fact that another day had passed and that the night was preparing for awakening. The air was filled by words and laughter from the conversation that run and for a moment I overlooked the situation, which felt so extremely controversial! These two Arabs who were suffused by happiness though knowing myself that living in this area wasn’t the easiest job at all! Throughout the passing moments Omar was shyly listening and sometimes adding some comments or asking some questions. Eyad was telling great stories, of which one was about how he made more trees out of one tree because he just loved this specific tree and he had found a genius way to multiply this tree. José was sprightly interrupting and responding on Eyad saying how this globe could be saved from deforestation if this method would be applied. Eventually Eyad showed the tree he created himself from this special tree and hereby pointed to these two lonely trees in the corner of the playground, they were surrounded by a billion grains of sand that all together formed the bare land. He was so happy that for the rest of the evening that smile was permanently placed on his face.

For a moment I wondered around, not following the conversation. I understood that the scene we were in was one of weirdness and unknowing. I understood that the scene I was in was a definite transition phase, where the instant moment felt utterly strange and undefinable, the past seemed almighty sweet and memorable, and the future sounded bright, but hinted nothing else than mystery.

 

Puk de Roij

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On a rock

A companionship so rich, on top of a view idem rich, seeing Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel being affiliated by the red sea. I can doubtlessly say that this picture reflects the worth of this EMIS trip.

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Friends in the desert. Carlos is enjoying the view on the edge of the fulfilled rock, where Mantas is standing next to him suddenly realizing an odd composition of enthusiatic kids are striking a pose. Damir is catching a butterfly (I’m still not sure if it was an actually butterfly, or an imaginary one), Jose is tensioning so his biceps will be seen, Michiel seems honestly grateful behind which I am coordinating the wind direction.

The perpetual journey of my candlelight

I am laying in my bed feeling like a candle, again, a candle that was lighting the evening and is now lighting the night. A strange but known and always unexpected situation visualizes in my head. Someone is about to approach me; notably is its tired and firmed mouth positioned in an oval shape, as if this mouth is up to something. Full denial I know the naked truth, the truth that this person will soon take a deep breath, and herewith will fill its lungs with air, to blow it eventually in chunks towards me. I know it, I know that it wants to take away my light, my light that is so lustrous and steady. Though this plight did not ensue yet, I think about it. And hereby I wonder mostly where the smoke, my smoke, or after-product of this situation, will flow. Which direction it will follow and whereto it will disappear.

I am laying in my bed knowing that soon I will leave this place, my bed. Soon I will stand up and take a shower, soon I’ll brush my teeth and go out of my dorm, soon I’ll pack my suitcase and fly somewhere else. Educational wise in terms of middle school, we and I are closing up. The same thing in terms of social life, since here at EMIS everyone will go its own direction, and each and every candle will be blown out. The smoke that will arise will smell like memories and will go up in dust. Right now thinking about it makes me yearn, makes me long and makes me remorse times that have been. I am still here, I am still laying on my bed, but actually right now, at this specific moment thinking about this, I have left already.

I am laying in my bed and strike the pillow that is settled next to me, feeling the textures it encompasses. Having analyzed each and every unit of ‘Song of Myself’ from walt Whitman made me actually wonder how I entered this world, why and what I will be and how I can be. We start our journey in the place we are born, sleep a night over and the next day we are lighted again, suddenly we are toddles, then infants, teenagers and become adults. But why after every venture someone needs to blow out your and my candle light?

I think that the person forthcoming my direction wants to go to sleep, because it’s late, and the night is tired. I feel the breeze coming inward where reluctantly I first let my fire oppositely bend from the air-blow its mouth hatched, yet eventually I let myself deafen.

Laying in my bed I let my fire dissolve into smoke and try to get grip on it. It is floating around; frustration and sadness arise inside me. Still after-burning, my wax is deforming, and besides that, I became one day shorter. Leisurely I after all fall asleep, keeping in mind that tomorrow I will wake up. It will be a different evening, a different night, and likely I will light different people. I hope my dreams will soften the idea of letting go because eventually it will just be a new start and the evening may be just as delightful.

 

›Puk de Roij‹

 

 

Coast to coast

You know that you are hiking when sweet biscuits with tuna becomes tasty. With four (Sheldon, Jonathan and José) we hiked the coast to coast that starts in Nahariya and ends at the sea of Galilee. As someone told me that when hiking one tries to apply the primitive lifestyle where mankind moved itself in order to survive. Then realizing how bad we currently are at that and we are all settled down somewhere.

Because this trip was somehow an unorganized impuls and we had actually no clue what our plan was, each one of us wrote something the hour before we started the hike where we had to say how the trip would turn out. I wrote:

Besides, behalve

At the end we are salved.

Nor good or bad

If any won’t bled.

In a bed of rental

where we all get mental,

shaken and eaten,

until we’ll be heaten

For one to move on

and reach this horizon.

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De grens van de Gazastrook en Israël

Twee Israëlische jongens op de voorgrond, de Gazastrook op de achtergrond.

Langzaam naderend de grens tussen deze twee niet onaangetaste landen. We reden door een ooglijk mooi en droog gebied met z’n drieën en ik vroeg me af waar dit land voor gebruikt zou worden als het niet afgezet zou zijn als veiligheid voor Israel. Zou het land vol staan met amandelbomen, vijgenbomen of misschien dadelbomen, net zo als het beschreven wordt in de bijbel. Het heilige vruchtbare land waarvan ieder ander zich in zou willen bevinden, het land wat op de navel van de aarde woont. Deze plek wat in de bijbel Palestina wordt genoemd heeft tegenwoordig verscheidene namen en verscheidene staatsvormen. Niet zonder problemen leven de mensen onder deze staatsvormen, en niet zonder problemen wordt er nog steeds om de benaming en de inhoud daarvan gevochten. Een land vol geschiedenis wat al eeuwenlang worstelt om hetzelfde principe.

We bereikten een gebied binnen 20 kilometer van de Gazastrook. Dit betekent dat elke beweging die we maakten op camerabeelden staan. Deze camerabeelden worden gemaakt vanuit de lucht door vliegtuigen die geen piloot bezitten. Het maakt niet uit wie je bent, na een verdachte handeling zal er toegegrepen worden. Ik werd kriebelig van de gedachte dat ik werd bekeken, en borden als; “Pas op vanaf hier kunnen afgeschoten bommen vanuit Gaza het gebied bereiken” en “Je bent vanaf nu kwetsbaar voor scherpschutters” versterkte een ongekend gevoel. We reden aan de Israëlische zijde, naïef en benieuwd als ik was. Geen mens was te kennen op een soldaat na en ik kreeg het er warm van ondanks de 32 graden celsius die al in de lucht hing.

We parkeerde de auto en liepen naar een “viewpoint”. Daar lag het, ik kon een deel van de Gazastrook zien. Een stadje wat hand toereikend leek, zo dichtbij, en toch onbereikbaar. Gedachtes kwamen in me op, maar ergens wist ik niet waar ik aan moest denken, of waar mijn gedachtes me naar toe brachten. Het eerste wat in me opkwam was de vraag of dit wel echt het gedeelte is in de wereld waar we in Nederland zo veel van horen en toch niks van weten. Het lag er rustig bij, net zoals Israel er op dat moment rustig bij lag, en ik probeerde me voor te stellen wat de mensen die daar wonen aan het doen waren. Ik herinnerde mezelf aan het beeld dat ik voor me zag een tijdje geleden als ik aan de Gazastrook dacht. Ik zag stofwolken, drukte op de straten, schreeuwende volwassenen en kinderen, gewonden, mannen met een imago, kapotte huizen en al het ander wat wij op de televisie zien. Ik probeerde dit beeld in het rustige land te plaatsen waar ik naar keek, ik ben de Gazastrook namelijk niet ingegaan.

Geen bevooroordeeld bericht wil ik meegeven als een buitenstaander in het Israel-Palestina conflict, alhoewel mijn ervaring niet onkenbaar is en het mijn blijft. Geen verhaal zal men leiden tot een volledig beeld van deze situatie. Toch wil ik iets meegeven. Dat wat ik geven kan, mijn verhaal en gedachtes.

Iets meer dan een jaar geleden ben ik naar het Midden Oosten gevlogen met in gedachte begrip te vinden voor het conflict dat zich er afspeelt. Er zijn meerdere conflicten gaande hier, maar het meest verdiept ben ik in het Israël-Palestina conflict vanwege de missie van mijn school. Ik leef met Palestijnen en Israëliërs samen op een internaat en ben langzaam een mening gaan vormen. Iets algemeens wat ik tot nu toe kan uitsluiten over mezelf en mijn oordeel is dat hoe meer ik denk te weten over het conflict, hoe minder ik eigenlijk weet. Ik raak gestrengeld in een web van feiten en persoonlijke verhalen waaraan geen uitspraak recht zou doen. Een mening is snel gevormd en dit is een reden van het extreme dat te vinden is in deze wereld. Een geloof heeft iets wonderbaarlijks mooi, kan je steun en een hou vast geven, maar zodra iemand anders iets tegenstrijdigs gelooft en dit niet wordt geaccepteerd is er een conflict geboren. Niet noodzakelijk hoeft dit uitgesproken te zijn, maar het kan een factor zijn dat bijdraagt aan iets zoals het conflict.

Ik hoop dat ieder die de krant leest of de televisie aan doet in Nederland te horen krijgt van situaties die dagelijks afspelen zonder enige conclusie te trekken. Iets wat onmogelijk is. Zoals mijn engelse lerares altijd zegt: “Everything is biased.”

Puk de Roij

23.08.2015

Time is running like forest. Forest gump.

Trees flashing by, but standing on the same place.

Around seven weeks ago I felt my vision freeze. After a few seconds I realized that I was staring at a wall decorated by a clock. Just ticking it, like it always does. No hurry one could say. I hate this clock because every morning it confirms the fact that I’m too late for class. It is at a familiar place in mind but not by view, I passed it a million of times but never gave it a close look. I was thinking about the big vacation laying ahead of me. Somewhere in the past two years I lost my impatience, more because I had to, and I have to say it feels amazing to bear some moments that are capable of turning me insane. Anyway, I told myself: “In two months I will stare at this same clock, again.” Even though my love for this clock is not that strong, this thought gave me some ease. I guess because this place is a simple place, one that I know for sure it exists, and I would return to this place. I knew what I planned for the vacation, but these plans were one big cloud in my head which I couldn’t hold in my hands. The time passed, and the vacation is almost over. Unbelievable. Lately I can’t separate the feeling of what people call vacation and what they call not-vacation, in my head it’s just a bunch of time. One of my biggest struggles in the start of last year was that in my mind there were no beginning of things or periods, and there were no ends. Everything just continued. I didn’t remember when “it” started and when something that I would’ve had recognized as an end once, wasn’t in my experience an end anymore. Last year there were days that I woke up and I had no clue what I was up to this day.

I don’t know why but I have the feeling I’m complicating things right now. I love to complicate things. One thing I saw in my father last summer is that people that complicate themselves with thoughts in their mind from time to time (like him) can think so very direct and simple when it gets too complicated. Like walking through a labyrinth, but when you get stuck and tired of it you just cut a hole in the wall and walk out like it’s the easiest damned thing in the world.

In june my brother and sister came to Israel to pick me up, my heart warmed up with their company. I’m not saying it was cold in Tel Aviv, by then the temperature already raised till far in the thirty degrees. A few days of dutch recognition in Israel and I longed to go home. I finished all my exams with sleepless nights and a bucket of coffee per hour. Some social life was needed in order not to become strangers of the humanity. After saying goodbyes and see you laters in the green village and EMIS I was ready to return home. Of course one should not change from one world to the other abruptly, so an Israeli friend, my haim shelli, came with me to Holland. Her name is Daniel Niv. I saw my family and dutch friends and she saw my family and dutch friends. I can’t recall how weird it was to mix the two different worlds. Dani from Israel and my life in Holland. They know each other by stories but god knows what they pictured by that. For one year I shipped from one country to the other. After finishing a skype conversation I always had to look twice around me to identify the location I was at. Anyway, it was fun with Dani, except for the time she caused me a heart attack. I swear, never put Israelis on a bike in Holland. First of all it is not nice for the bike, secondly it could kill an israeli citizen. Oh and thirdly no one would crash from his motor. If I’m typing anyway, fortly no car would have to decide to make some extra meters through a field in order not to drive over a motor. Dani, remember that I love you no matter what.

Mid July I went to Corse, a French Island. We’ve been there with the family already a few times, but because it is the place to be for the family de Roij, we went there again. No technology for any of the family members which means freedom for all. For one month I could forget my worries. Literally, liter ally, liter in belly. It was hot there, partially because I was there and maybe because my sister was there too, definitely not because my brother was there, and well my parents, never mind. But it was hot. We ate, we slept, we swam, beached (I’m sure this is not a word), mountained (I’m also sure this is not a word), met some cool people and had chilly nights. Some good conversations with my one cell in brain containing brother and sister (I’m so nice) and they let me catch up with some ‘de Roij’ attitudes. Thanks homies. I could kiss my mommy and daddy (I’m a parents kid) and let them know how much I missed them last year (now hoping they will read this post). Bought humus in the french supermarkets, please give me a knife and an address. I’m joking of course, about the knife. I can say I survived one month with my family, and to be honest I wouldn’t mind surviving some more time with them because it pleased me in any way.

Sad that the time is flying like a rocket, but a good thing is that I was for one week with my dutch love Puk, my friend. She has the same name as me, she is born on the same date as me IN the same year, and the crazy thing is that I like to hang out with her. And this my friends is what you call destiny. She is blessed with such a beautiful name.

To describe our first moment together on the airport. We were late, actually I was late, so I checked in since I didn’t do that online like Puk. And yes we had nine (9) kilo overweight, I guess because I had a storage of wasabi nuts in my suitcase for the next few months in Israel. It took some time but finally it was all arranged when she said the gate switched and we had to be on the other side of the airport. One can say that Puk, that looked awfully well dressed like always, looked like she walked through the desert the whole day without drinking water, after we run a marathon through the airport Schiphol. You are still beautiful Puk. It felt like the old days. We were for one week in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and really, I could write a book about what happened to us.

A new year at EMIS (Eastern Mediterranean International School) starts in the Hakfar Hayarok in Israel. I’m excited and afraid. Excited because there is a new load of people coming, this year we will be with around 160 people. Last year was the founding year of EMIS and this year we will continue in a bigger group. I’ll let you know what will happen over here.

Puk