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Will Rockanje Ever Be Monaco?

May 30, 2015

Today, May 30, 2015, and tomorrow we’re having our annual motor cycle races here in Rockanje. The community council must have thought that it would be easy to compete with Monaco. However, there are some minor differences. Rockanje is as rural as Monaco is sophisticated. Monaco organizes their Grand Prix in such a way that spectators don’t need to use public space as a public toilet, and Rockanje doesn’t give a shit about such trifling matters.

Parking your car (normally free) costs €3.50. Entrance to the spectators area (public road) costs €13.50 for both days. I can’t take my dog Boris to the woods and the sand dunes where I usually walk him. Access denied, unless I pay €13.50. Private enterprise has taken over rules and regulations for 48 hours.

Another road block near my house. I have experienced more freedom in East Berlin.

The private organizers of this yearly event try to make as much money as they can, so public toilet vehicles are out of the question. Instead, the inhabitants of this part of Rockanje are “compensated” for the noise and inconvenience with urine and feces from the spectators. This is next to my house. May it rain soon and plentiful.

Of course, it’s completely against all rules of pollution control to organize these “fun races”, not only because of the environmental pollution the motor cycles cause, but also because of the many cars and motor cycles from the spectators. (No, Rockanje doesn’t have a train station.)

As you can see on this map, there is no way I can walk to the woods and the sand dunes, one of the real attractions of this area.


The Van Der Wijck name in Indonesia – Nothing to be proud of

November 21, 2013


The Van Der Wijck Fortress is a Dutch East Indies bastion which was built in 1817 and 1818. The fort is located in Gombong, about 21 km from the district Kebumen, Central Java, or 100 km from Borobudur Temple, Magelang. The name of this fort comes from one Captain Van Der Wijck (he never used his first name), who was the commander at the time. The fort is sometimes associated with the name David Cochius Frans (1787-1876), a general who served in the western region of Bagelen.


Van Der Wijck established his name by “silencing” the Acehnese resistance. In fact, this was pure genocide. The Royal Dutch-Indies Army (KNIL) regarded Van der Wijck a military officer with a “distinguished career”, because supposedly he was capable of winning the war in Indonesia. In 1827 the Van der Wijck fort was a military barracks with the purpose of dampening the strength of the troops of Prince Diponegoro. At the time of the Diponegoro war, around 1825-1830, Fort Van Der Wijck was not only used as a defence bastion, but also as a fortress of logistics and a KNIL military school.


When Dutch colonization came to an end, Fort Van Der Wijck functioned as a military school for the Japanese-trained Indonesian army. In 1940 Suharto became the new commander of the fortress. Later he would become president of Indonesia. The renovation of the fort started in 1999, with permission from the military.


Today the fort Van Der Wijck is a tourist attraction. There is a miniature train on the grounds, and apart from the grim history, which will be the subject of  a film by Garin Nugroho, Soegijo Pranoto, there is the architecture. In the whole world there are only two octagonal fortresses: one in Australia, and the Van Der Wijck Fortress in Indonesia. The octagonal shape is similar to the Grand Mosque. When viewed with the Islamic compass, the proper fortress doors are facing the Qiblah.

Despite the horror which took place here, the Van Der Wijck fortress is now a family-friendly place, with a swimming pool, a children’s playground, a hotel, and musical performances.


Haji Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah (1908–1981), better known as simply Hamka, was the Sumatran-born son of a devout Muslim who viewed local traditions as hindering the progress of religion – his father’s opinions influenced his. After a trip to Java and Mecca beginning when he was sixteen, he became a religious scholar in Deli, East Sumatra, then in Makassar, South Sulawesi. During these travels, especially while in the Middle East, he extensively read works by Islamic scholars and authors, such as those by the Egyptian writer Mustafa Lutfi al-Manfaluti, as well as Arabic-language translations of European works. In 1935 he left Makassar for Medan, North Sumatra, where he became the editor of an Islamic weekly magazine, Pedoman Masjarakat. It was while in Medan that he wrote Tenggelamnya Kapal Van der Wijck, which was inspired in part by the sinking of an actual steam vessel in 1936.


The movie Van Der Wijck will be released soon

Hamka wrote Van der Wijck as a critique of the discrimination against mixed-race persons prevalent in Minang society at the time, as well as the subservient role of women. Originally released as a serial, Van der Wijck was republished as a novel after favourable popular reception. Described by the socialist literary critic Bakri Siregar as Hamka’s best work, the work came under fire in 1962 because of similarities between it and Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s Sous les Tilleuls (Under the Limes; 1832).


The Dutch steamship Van der Wijck, on passage Surabaya to Tandjong Priok, capsized and sank in 1936, in heavy weather near Tandjong Pakis, between Surabaya and Semarang. A monument was raised to commemorate the disaster.


Canadian “eh?” originates from the Dutch

March 15, 2013


The Dutch have contributed one word to the Canadian vocabulary, and in fact it’s not even a word; it’s a sound. But how significant it is! The word “eh” has become part of the Canadian national identity.

How is it used?

The only usage of eh? that is exclusive to Canada, according to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, is for “ascertaining the comprehension, continued interest, agreement, etc., of the person or persons addressed” as in, “It’s four kilometres away, eh, so I have to go by bike.” In that case, eh? is used to confirm the attention of the listener and to invite a supportive noise such as “Mm” or “Oh” or “Okay”. This usage may be paraphrased as “I’m checking to see that you’re [listening/following/in agreement] so I can continue.” Grammatically, this usage constitutes an interjection; functionally, it is an implicit request for back-channel communication.

“Eh” can also be added to the end of a declarative sentence to turn it into a question. For example: “The weather is nice.” becomes “The weather is nice, eh?” This same phrase could also be taken as “The weather is nice, don’t you agree?”. In this usage, it is virtually identical to the Dutch “hè?”, the Japanese “ne?” or the Mandarin “bā”. This usage differs from the French usage of “n’est-ce pas?” (“Isn’t that so?”) in that it does not use a (technically double or emphatic) negative.

The usage of “eh” in Canada is occasionally mocked in the United States, where some view its use – along with aboot, an approximation of a Canadian raising-affected pronunciation of about – as a stereotypical Canadianism. Such stereotypes have been reinforced in popular culture, and were famously lampooned in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. Singer Don Freed in his song “Saskatchewan” declares “What is this ‘Eh?’ nonsense? I wouldn’t speak like that if I were paid to.” There are many merchandise items on the market today that use this phrase, such as t-shirts and coffee mugs.

It is often joked about by Canadians as well, and is sometimes even a part of the national identity. For example, a Canadian national team is sometimes referred to as “the Eh? team”. Likewise, at one of their concerts, a member of the Canadian Brass, referring to their arrangement of the jazz standard “Take the A Train”, said that they’d considered calling it “Take the train, eh?”. A classic joke illuminating this: “How did they name Canada? The letters were thrown in a bag, and the first one to be picked was ‘C’ eh?, then ‘N’ eh? and finally ‘D’ eh?”

In the Canadian animated faux-reality show Total Drama Island, one of the twenty-two teens on the show, Ezekiel, is a stereotypical Canadian yokel who uses the term “Eh”, usually at the end of a sentence.

Where does it come from?

“Wat is het koud, hè?” (It’s cold, eh?) is a normal Dutch expression when it’s cold. Just like the Canadian “eh” it’s usually added to the end of a declarative sentence to turn it into a (sometimes rhetorical) question. For example: “It’s cold.” becomes “It’s cold, don’t you agree?”

“Hè?” doesn’t exactly sound like “eh?”, until we move to the south-west of the Netherlands, where dialect speaking people still say “eh?” instead of  “hè?”.

Zeelandic (Zeeuws in Dutch) is a regional language spoken in the Dutch province of Zeeland and on the South Holland island of Goeree-Overflakkee. Commonly considered a Dutch dialect, it has notable differences mainly in pronunciation, but also in grammar and vocabulary, which set it clearly apart from Standard Dutch and make easy comprehension by unskilled Dutch speakers difficult. Linguistically it is a dialect of West Flemish.

The Dutch arrived in North America in the 17th century to establish the New Netherlands colony, but it was not until the American Revolution that an indeterminate number of Dutch American Loyalists entered the British North American colonies. Already considerably anglicized, this group was quickly assimilated into the existing society and masses of immigrants who flooded into the colonies after 1815. Because of economic and social pressures, emigration from the Netherlands grew rapidly at mid-century and in the following decades, but it was directed to the rapidly developing American frontier.

When cheap arable land became scarce in the United States by the 1880s, the Dutch and Dutch Americans turned to the Canadian “Last Best West.” The 2006 Statistics Canada census recorded 1,035,965 (single and multiple response) people of Dutch origin in Canada. The Dutch quickly adopted Canadian culture and traditions, and they have been integrated almost to the point of invisibility.

In the 19th century a lot of people from the Dutch province of Zeeland emigrated to North America. These were hard working people, who were forced to leave their beloved land because of the economical situation, weather related disasters, bad harvests, social unrest, religious issues, etc.

To many immigrants, Canada became their new Homeland, and although they learned to speak English, they kept using their familiar “eh?”.

“We’re now Canadian, eh?”

Jack Vanderwyk

A Simple Way To Find Out Who Your Biggest Facebook Friends Are

December 6, 2012


(N.B. Doesn’t work in Safari)

To find out who your biggest fans (or stalkers) on Facebook are, you need to follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to your Facebook.
  2. Right-click your mouse. Select View Page Source.
  3. In this new screen, enter Ctrl key + f key (Ctrl+f).
  4. In the search box that appears enter “orderedfriends”. You will now see a (long) list of numbers, starting with the number that is your most frequent visitor. Copy the number.
  5. Go back to your Facebook and paste the number behind the in the top left of your browser, for instance
  6. Press enter. You will now come to the Facebook of the person who has visited your Facebook.
  7. Repeat these steps to make a list of the people who visit your Facebook regularly. Write the numbers next to the names, so you don’t have to do the search every time you want to check.

Another Indian Summer in Rockanje

September 6, 2012

I’ve been living here for over a year now. The years before I lived in other beach resorts, like Nice (Côte d’Azur), Brighton and St. Leonards-on-Sea. There’s quite a difference between these towns and the village of Rockanje, on the island of Voorne-Putten. Nice is the capital of the French Riviera, where the richest people of the world reside. Brighton is more and more becoming London-on-Sea, where many wealthy yuppies working in the City choose to live. St. Leonards-on-Sea is the place for artists and retired academics. But in none of these places you will find sandy beaches, like in Rockanje.

True, Elton John doesn’t live over the road, I don’t have the same physician as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and when I go shopping I won’t meet Whoopie Goldberg in the village supermarket, but living here is quite affordable and I live very close to the beach.

This is the lawn next to my house during the summer season. Many people from all over the country, even from Germany, visit the beach to catch the sun and have a swim in the North Sea.

The same lawn today, September 6, 2012. Completely empty.

Salsa Beach Club. I haven’t got a clue what it’s like, but it seems to be a nice place for coffee and cake.

Another beach club, called ‘View’. From the terrace you can see the island of Goeree-Overflakkee and the North Sea.

This is my bike. Dutch people call this a ‘granny’s bike’. I have a basket to put in front, for shopping, and picknicks on the beach (maybe next year).

Terra Indonesia

July 30, 2012

This is some soil I took with me from one of my visits to Java in the 1970s.  It means so much to me.

Indonesians are the friendliest people I have ever met. They all remind me so much of my nènnèh, a Javanese woman with French and Portuguese blood.

Indonesia is a country with so many different cultures and traditions, as a result of which people are very tolerant.

Even though I wasn’t born there, I’ve never felt more at home than in Indonesia.

There will come a day when I have to part from this earth. When that happens, I hope to be in Indonesia, the country of my heart.

This is the keris (kris) that was passed on to me by my uncle Maurits when I was a child. During my entire life, whenever I moved to a new house,  I slept with my keris underneath my pillow for a day or two, to make the keris at ease, so it could spread its good spirits through the house and protect me and my family against evil.

My son was born in Jakarta, in 1981, and when he was twelve I gave him his own keris. We were living in Holland at the time, and while he was focusing on Dutch football (Ajax), we still wished each other good night in Indonesian.

“Selamat tidur, Frank.”

“Selamat tidur, Jaap.”

My Mini-Garden (2)

July 22, 2012

A couple of months of sunshine and rain have been beneficial to my mini-garden. Last year’s plants are doing very well, like these hydrangeas, but this year’s hydrangeas are going through a difficult time once they passed flowering. New shoots are developing, but slowly.

Nevertheless, these girls are doing fine, setting an example to their less developed congeners.

These flowers are amongst those I didn’t plant myself, but they are most welcome.

Just like these. I think it’s lavender, but I’m not sure.

And what are these? To be frank, I don’t have a f****g clue.

This is next to my house, over the road. Do you spot the black cat?

My Labrador Boris (Drinka Pinta Milka Day of Tintagel Winds) never barks. Never. There’s one exception, though. When he was still a puppy and I took him home to my place in Nice, in the South of France, I took him for a little walk, where he was viciously attacked by a stray black cat called Mimi. Out of the blue. Boris was on the leish, and neither he nor I saw it coming. Later I had a cat called Boots, and Boris loved her to bits, and he’s friendly to other cats too, but ever since that tragic event in Nice he barks at black cats – once, maybe twice, just to let this potential ‘Mimi’ know that she needs to f*****g back off.
This time Boris didn’t spot the black cat, so tranquility on this Sunday morning was preserved.

My true passion is with tropical and subtropical plants, though. Hélas, they don’t really agree with Dutch climate, so they need to be in the house, at least when temperature drops below 15° C.