Sunday, 27 December 2009

Count your blessings and how to tell that someone is not gay....

I am back from all the Xmas visits. Dinner with my brother and his family was nice and my sister in law cooked a fantastic dinner with duck breast in porto sauce. It was nice to talk to my nephews a bit more than usual. My sister in law's brother was also there and his life is really in a mess: he is 58, no job, huge debts and is depressed. So I counted my blessings seeing this guy in huge problems. Sometimes when thinking about your own little problems it is good to compare with someone who really has issues of a larger magnitude....
The nice surprise on Xmas day was hearing the sweetest man's voice on the phone, even if his (and my) friends had to call to make it happen....
The visit to my mum's place was emotional as expected. My stepdad gave a speech in front of his children and grandchildren, basically a "goodbye for ever" speech, and called me "his 2nd son". His real son also wanted to say something, but started to cry in front of everybody so his sister had to finish his speech. On a lighter tone, my mom had bought a nice G-star Tshirt for the older grandson. I hadn't seen him in 3 or 4 years and was surprised that he developed into a very cute 16 year old guy. He tried the Tshirt on and it fitted perfectly....for a gay bar. He said he found it too tight and asked if maybe my mum could change it for one size bigger. GAY [ ] NOT GAY [ X ]

Thursday, 24 December 2009

A different Christmas

It is 315pm on Christmas Eve and I just got home from work, we closed shop early to give everyone a chance to do some last minute shopping.
Traditionally, my family don't do Xmas gifts so the only shopping I had to do was some wine and chocolates. Nice and easy.
Tonight, I'll have dinner with MA, JE and HE in our favourite restaurant Dynasty. I haven't eaten since breakfast to be able to eat the gorgeous food tonight! I hope I am able to go home after dinner, as they expect more snow and ice-rain from 10pm tonight which might make the roads too slippery for any transportation.....
If weather permits, tomorrow I'll drive to my brother's house to have dinner with his family. Originally the plan was to pick up my mum and stepdad and take them to my brother's, but unfortunately my stepdad is too sick to travel. After dinner on Christmas day I'll go to my mum's place and spend Boxing day there with my mum, my stepdad and his family. It will be a different atmosphere from "normal" years as he is so sick. Nobody knows if he will live another week, a month or maybe 2 months, but it is unlikely it will be any longer than that. On Sunday, i'll witness the final goodbye's between a father and his daughter as she will be going back to South Africa.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Isolation

I got a new computer last week, and of course the old modem (dating from 1874) didn't work with the new computer so I needed to get a new modem and then my landline phone and the Internet connection totally stopped functioning. To add insult to injury there was heavy snow on Saturday/Sunday, it was so bad that it was too much of a hassle to leave the house so I was totally isolated. I must say I enjoyed the solitude: I never read so much, watched so many movies, called so many friends (thank god my mobile phone kept functioning), so all in all I had a good weekend. Today all connections work again and I am enjoying my new, fast computer.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Goodbye Solo

I went to see Goodbye Solo yesterday, the latest movie by American director Ramin Bahrani. I had read a while ago that it was a good movie, but didn't remember the details so I didn't really know what to expect. The story is about a young black taxi driver, Solo, in North Carolina who has an old white man, William, as a regular passenger. The old man asks Solo to drive him up to a local mountain, "Blowing Rock", two weeks later: "one way, no questions please, and I'll give you $1,000." Solo smells trouble and tries to develop a friendship with William, who clearly doesn't like the attention and tries to get rid of Solo. However, Solo keeps trying, and more or less forces William to open up a bit. In the mean time, Solo has problems with his girlfriend and we see William often in the local cinema where he spends a lot of time with a young guy who sells the tickets.
Finally, Solo, accompanied by his stepdaughter, drives William to Blowing Rock, where he says goodbye to William (telling his stepdaughter "William is meeting a friend") and stares blankly in the distance suggesting that William jumped off the rock to commit suicide.
The film was a bit too arty for me (none of the stories has a head or a tail), and on the way out I picked up the local movie magazine that had an article raving about the movie ("the ultimate movie about friendship") and explaining how "one can not force friendship on somebody" and "you have to let go of even your best friends". Oh well.
After the movie I had dinner with MI and we discovered the best restaurant ever, Morlang on Herengracht. Their Indian lamb curry "rogan josh" is the best ever and the Tarte tatin is to die for. We will be back!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Emotions

The weekend in London was good. I stayed with AA and got to meet his latest bf WO who seemed to be a nice guy. On Saturday we went to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the Musical, which was great fun - especially the costumes were excellent and the songs and jokes were hilarious. One of the songs was "Both sides now" by Joni Mitchell and listening to it I suddenly missed the sweetest man a lot and wished so much he was sitting next to me.....
On Sunday I visited MT and PE in their home in Roehampton, and when I arrived in Amsterdam around 8pm I choose to have one beer with the gang.....until suddenly it was 1am and I took a taxi home. A good weekend.
My stepfather is not doing well. Normally I don't speak with him on the phone often (my mother always picks up the phone when I call), and I was surprised when suddenly he called me last night. After some chit-chat he said that he had dreamt that he was on his death-bed and that he was talking to me, and he repeated the words he had said to me in his dream. I think it was his way of saying what he wanted to say to me (the dream story was just an excuse), and for the first time I could hear tears in his voice. In return, I said the words that I wanted to say to him before he dies, and it felt a bid surreal to have done it over the phone. I could feel that it won't be long until I am actually sitting at his death-bed. His daughter will be arriving this coming weekend, I will pick her up from the airport and take her to my mom's and stepfather's place. It will be quite hard to see somebody dear slip away from life.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Pilipinos

Yesterday was gay movie night again, and the movie was Connie and Carla, about two girls who dress as men who dress as women. The movie is ok, nothing special, but I liked the Filipino character and especially his accent. I think Filipino accents are among the cutest in the world. It helped that we had 6 Filipinos in our group, and while having beers after the movie we had a lot of fun replacing all f's for p's.
Tomorrow I will be going to London for the weekend. I am looking forward to seeing AA, MT and PE and especially to seeing the musical Priscilla for which I have tickets. I just hope this guy will not be next to me on the plane........

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

An example for all of us

Today, Ramses Shaffy (born 1933) died. He was a popular and much-loved singer and actor throughout my youth, and most of all he was a bohemian with a life-long love of life. In his own words, he "had a little bit too much love" and he "loved alcohol". I was happy to see him two years ago in a very emotional and fragile performance on Amsterdam's Rembrandtplein. He was extremely charming, positive, full of life, curious and friendly. The comments today from other Dutch singers, and average people on the street, say it all:
"he lived"
"he didn't care about yesterday or tomorrow, he lived today"
"all of Amsterdam was in love with him"
"i think we would all have wanted to swap our lifes with him"
May he rest in peace.
This song "Zing, vecht, huil, bid, lach, werk, bewonder" translates as "sing, fight, cry, pray, smile, work and admire"

Monday, 30 November 2009

Thin people more likely to be depressed

The Dutch Central Statistics Bureau reported today that slim people are more likely to be depressed than others. People who are very fat are also suffering from depression, however not as much as thin people. According to the study, the happiest people are slightly overweight males.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Joseph and the amazing technicolor dreamcoat

I went to the musical Joseph and etc. yesterday and it was great. For some reason, the Dutch translations of the typical Broadway / Westend musicals are always very good with many contemporary jokes and puns in the texts, and this time was no exception. Add good acting and good dancing and a rather homo-erotic scene (not noticed by most in the audience, I'd say) in which the Egyptian pharaoh admires Joseph's well-sculpted body, and a perfect evening was guaranteed.
On Saturday we had our annual family dinner to remember my dad who passed away 16 years ago. It was good to be together although this time it was strange to remember my dad in the presence of my stepfather who we all know will most likely not be with us this time next year.
Went out with the gang on Friday night and had a great time. Fortunately, these days I know when to stop drinking alcohol and switch to water....
In other news, one of my bosses today mentioned (for the first time) the words "pulling the plug" in relation to the company. Either a miracle will happen or this game will reach its end-stage rather soon.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Ralph wins Youth Euro Vision Song Contest

14 year old Ralph from the Netherlands won the Youth Euro Vision Song Contest which was held in Kyiv, Ukraine, tonight. We haven't won the real one since 1975, so this gives some hope for the future.....

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

An involuntary emigration from Singapore (or: not all Singaporeans are sweet)

In the 1980's, Mr Chang Ming See (now 56 years old) emigrated from Singapore to the Netherlands. He met a girl who became his wife, and after a while he started to rape her and beat her up badly. His wife went to the police and after a while Mr Chang was sentenced to 3 years in prison for serious domestic violence.
In the mean time, his wife wanted to divorce him and she was supported by her employer, a middle-aged Dutch couple, Jim and Jannie Schuiten who were running a sailing boat rental service in the Dutch province of Friesland.
On 23 August 1995 Mr Chang, after serving his sentence, went to the Schuiten house and murdered the couple with a knife. He stupidly left his watch at the crime scene, and this watch could be traced back to Singapore which made the work of the police easy. He was arrested a few days later and eventually (in 1997) sentenced to 18 years in prison for double murder. He appealed and in the Dutch idiotic legal system of the 1980's and 1990's (laws have been changed since) he was released (!) until his case could be heard at the High Court. Of course he disappeared and for 12 years nobody knew where he was hiding.
The two sons of the murdered couple never gave up and were constantly urging the authorities to keep looking for Mr Chang.
A few weeks ago, he was found in Malaysia (apparently he made a phone call to a Dutch friend that was monitored), and yesterday the Malaysians put him on a plane to the Netherlands where he will have to serve his sentence.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Bullshitters

It is becoming very clear that many bankers have lost their jobs and are looking for ways to pay the mortgage and continue to have an extravagant lifestyle to which they have become addicted. My linkedin-account is getting many requests of former colleagues and friends-of-friends who are unemployed and seem to be desperate to find a job. I hate those people that would not even speak with me in the good old days because someone else was more important for their career, and are now sending me messages full of honey and asking me how I am and "we should have lunch soon."
My bosses have an unsual talent to attract these people who I call "bullshitters". In most cases they have never done anything useful in their professional careers and their only talent is - you guessed it - bullshitting. Our office is becoming a temporary refugee camp for these people and as permanent staff we are amazed how they are (ab)using the facilties to pick up their careers at our expense. I have warned my bosses but they think they know better so I have to endure these bullshitters until the shit hits the fan.
So I have another reason to be glad to currently work only 3 days a week - a schedule I could easily get used to and would be a nice interim - step to retirement. I am so glad now that I always lived below my means so when I lose my job I wouldn't really care. It is always good to have some fuck you money.
In other news, the trip to Istanbul was wonderful and this time the city made it to my top-10 of great cities. After my two-day work week last week, on Thursday I went to Paris which is now my #1 favourite city. ZA from Taiwan was on his first ever visit there so I re-discovered all the highlights of the City of Lights - the Louvre, we climbed the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré Coeur, the Arc de Triomphe - you name it. Add the French food and a nice new gay bar "Raidd" with a real shower cabin with cute strippers.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Going to Istanbul

Tomorrow morning I will be going to Istanbul for a long weekend. I have been there before in 1991 (?) with EW - I don't remember much of that visit, and in 2001 (?) just one day for work - that time I remember I had "met" someone on gaydar and he came to my hotel. He was very young and cute and we talked for a long time, I think he wanted something but I decided he was too cute and young for me.......yes, I know it sounds unbelieveable......
Anyway, this time I want to see all the monuments and mosques and churches and palaces, and fortunately the weather forecast is good (20-22C and partly sunny) so it will be fun to just walk around.
Just in case I checked the gay Istanbul website and read the following:
Despite the caricaturized historical image of Turkish men in the western countries as dark-skinned men with big mustaches and big bellies, Turks are actually very European looking and beautiful race, definitely more white then the Spanish if not Italians or the French. Do not be surprised to see blond men with green eyes, if not many. Turkish people have no language or ethnic connection with the Arabs except the religion and its cultural influence. In fact Turkish people are partly hybrid because, various nations lived together under Ottoman Empire rule such as Bulgarians, Serbs, Greeks, Jews, Arabs, Kurds, Georgians Armenians etc and its been a land of immigration because of its geographical position like a bridge between Asia and Europe. Probably for that reason Turkish men are admired internationally by gay men from various nations including Americans, Europeans, Arabs, as well and Japanese and other nations of far eastern Asia. Especially the new generation boys and young men are very attractive who grew up with the pop images of private televisions. They know how to wear and how to act very well, even if they come from poorer families.

And one of the gay bars is described as follows:
Originally a she-male club, but definitely not a typical one in comparison to other ones in Istanbul. Words are not enough to describe this 5 storey bar/club. Packed with a compilation of transvestites, semi-transvestites, male prostitutes, queens but overwhelmingly with hundreds of horny young boys ready to screw anything (call them bi or straight) coming from ghettoes of Istanbul especially on Saturday nights. Some gay men who like such rough boys would also go here comfortably. Watch your wallet and do not expect to be highly esteemed. It can be really fun to see the place once, because it must be one of its kind in the world most probably.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Män som hatar kvinnor

I was discussing ways to save some company money with my bosses, and I quickly volunteered to work a bit less, so from now on I will only work 3 days a week and have every Wednesday and Friday off! Great!
Today I went to see the brilliant Swedish movie Män som hatar kvinnor ("Men who hate women"). It is based on Stieg Larsson's famous novel and it didn't disappoint.
The movie tells an intelligent story: a journalist and a troubled young female hacker works together on resolving a 40 year old mystery involving a disappearance, murders, Nazis and a dysfunctional family. The films story is very exciting and puzzling (for those that haven't read the book) and the pace is steady with some really tense situations. The investigation part of the story is excellent. Although it is 2.5 hours long it is never boring.
The parents' guide on IMDb gives some clues about what to expect:
Lisbeth Salander is forced to suck an older man´s cock.
Lisbeth Salander gets anal raped in an extremely brutal scene.
Later in the film we find out Lisbeth Salander is bisexual when she wakes up with another woman, full nudity is seen of Salander including her breasts and buttocks.
In one scene, Salander is trying to dominate Mikael Blomqvist by forcing herself onto him while getting penetrated, breasts visible.

A man gets a dildo plugged up his ass while trying to shout, then he gets a message written on his body with lots of blood streaming out.
There´s a flashback seen twice in the film where Lisbeth Salander burns a man alive, the second time we see the man burning to death.

Highly recommended movie!

Sunday, 1 November 2009

This is it!

I went to watch "This is it!" yesterday and I must say I was not disappointed. OK, the movie has probably been edited to show the "best" of MJ, but what comes across is that he is a very talented and professional artist and musician, and a genuinely nice guy.
Despite having numerous assistants and directors to help him with everything, MJ is clearly in charge and tells his people what he would like to change and improve. Furthermore, having his track-record and success he could have become lazy but instead he wants things differently all the time, saying "this is why we have rehearsals".
He also appears to be very nice and patient with everybody, a bit too soft for me (saying "I love you" and "God bless you" every two minutes) but watching this still I was convinced that he was a good person.
Go and watch it if you can.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Whatever happened to romance?

Message on gaydar:
"I am top xxl. 020-6978XXX"
Needless to say no reply from me.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Contact at the highest level


You may have missed the news that the Dutch Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, is on a two-day visit to Singapore and was hosted to lunch by Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong.
Mr Lee spoke the following words: (excerpt)

SPEECH BY MR LEE HSIEN LOONG, PRIME MINISTER, AT OFFICIAL LUNCH HOSTED IN HONOUR OF PRIME MINISTER OF THE NETHERLANDS HIS EXCELLENCY DR JAN PETER BALKENENDE , 22 OCTOBER 2009, 12:31 PM AT THE ISTANA BANQUET HALL

The bilateral relationship between our two countries is a strong and longstanding one. The Netherlands was among the first countries to recognise Singapore's independence and establish diplomatic relations in 1965. We are also indebted to Dutch economist Dr Albert Winsemius, who provided invaluable and wise advice on economic development and invest­ment policy for many years starting in the 1960s, even before Singapore became independent. On the occasion of Prime Minister Balkenende’s visit, I am pleased to announce that we will be naming one of our public roads after Dr Winsemius, in recognition of his contributions to Singapore.

Today, Singapore and the Netherlands are linked in many ways. Our economic relationship is robust and deep. The Netherlands is our third largest European trading partner. It is also our second largest investor, with over S$50 billion worth of assets in Singapore. This is a remarkable figure, showing that size is no impediment to achieving a considerable economic impact. Almost a thousand Dutch firms operate out of Singapore, adding to our economic vibrancy and diversity. On our part, Singapore has investments worth S$3.1 billion in the Netherlands.

Beyond the economic and security spheres, our people-to-people ties remain strong, anchored by a significant Dutch community in Singapore. Many Dutch citizens contribute to our economy and society, just as Dr Albert Winsemius did a generation ago.

May I now invite you to join me in a toast to the continued good health and success of Your Excellency Prime Minister Balkenende; peace and prosperity for the people of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; and closer relations between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Singapore.

It is funny that he mentions the "significant Dutch community in Singapore", but chooses to ignore the equally significant Singapore community in the Netherlands. He could have said: "there is also a significant Singapore community in the Netherlands, many of whom are gay men who for various reasons choose to move to the low countries."

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Dutch hope, hamburger with pesto and Spanish in Singapore

Some time ago, MA asked if I wanted to join him and a group of friends to a one-time performance by Freek de Jonge, the surviving half of cabaret duo "Neerlands Hoop" ("Dutch hope") which was very popular in the 1970's and to whose shows I went many times during my high-school years. The theatre was filled with hard-core fans mostly in their 50s and who seemed to know all of the songs and sketches by heart. De Jonge did a great job mixing the old show with contemporary jokes and we all had a good time. I still remember vividly that once, I was on the first row of the theatre in The Hague for one of their performances (must have been around 1978), and he spit in the audience as part of one of the sketches. We all found it very funny then....... but then, these were the wild 70s when we all had long hair and we all dreamt to be free and happy forever.
On Friday I joined MA and HE for drinks in April. HE's ex-bf XX was also there and from the moment we met I could feel there would be drama. XX was drunk and way too touchy-feely with MA and myself, I guess it was his way of getting closer to HE who tried to keep a distance. In the end, there were tears and XX ended up in MA's bear hug for a good 10 minutes. After April we went to Exit Bar and then to Exit which was surprisingly empty. I had had enough but MA wanted to end the night with french fries and he also ordered a hamburger with pesto (??) which we shared and which I regretted the moment I put my teeth in it.
Yesterday I met up with JA who was on a short visit to Amsterdam. He is very happy in Singapore although he lost his job there and is currently looking for something new. I hope he can find something decent soon. Fortunately, he got his PR in Singapore within 8 months after moving there so he has time to make his dreams come true.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

A stable mouth

I went to the dentist this morning and after running through my mouth he commented: "looks good, you have a stable mouth". While he was doing his thing, I was thinking if he could see traces of oral activities that I sometimes perform, any dentist reading this please let me know. I have had the same dentist since 1988 - he is my age and we basically are getting older together and most times when he asks "how are you" I reply: "well, six months younger than last time".
The comment about the stable mouth came back to me when I read a link that CO posted on Facebook about a new acronym: the Tired's . The article is about young professionals who have their mid-life crisis in their early 30's, "The mid-life crisis is coming earlier and to a broader range of professional people. Once it was the overworked bankers aged 45-50 but now it is happening to lawyers, journalists, teachers and doctors in their 30s"
The two things ("stable mouth" and "mid-life crisis") put together made me reflect on my life: I have (so far) never been down enough to have a mid-life crisis but on the other hand my life is rather stable now - not many really new experiences or adventures. Some friends of mine are adopting babies, making radical career changes, are experimenting with all kinds of drugs, are turning monogamous overnight or are doing other strange things, perhaps I should make an effort to also do something radically new?
Stamp collecting, anyone?

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Nick and Simon

When i was cycling home last week I suddenly heard a lot of girls screaming so I asked someone what was happening. He said "Nick and Simon are performing here tonight" and I thought to myself "who the heck are Nick and Simon". Turns out they are two young musicians who are very popular with the teenage girls, and ofcourse I had never heard about them...... I went to the concert that night and I must say they did a good job and one of them is quite cute. See for yourself.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

OMG: my former boss in the PAP propaganda team

In the Straits Times today: a letter by my former boss who I always thought as a reasonable man......well, apparently he has decided he needs to be elbow-deep with the Sing government......

SINGAPORE may introduce legislation requiring employers to allow part-time work, and carry the cost. As a Dutch citizen whose country has such laws, may I sound a word of caution?

Singapore has built a successful economy partly by holding people responsible for their choices while supporting the needy. In many Western economies, people push the consequences of their decisions on work-life balance, family size and the like to other citizens via welfare, unemployment benefits, childcare subsidies, long paid holidays, long maternity leave and part-time employment. Labour becomes expensive and inflexible. The associated high tax rates remove the incentive to work hard and take risk.

Singapore cannot afford to fall into this welfare trap. It would lose its competitive position both as supplier of goods and services as well as employer of world-class talent.

Putting the burden on employers is unfair. Having children is a personal decision. As part of the national birth rate, it is perhaps a topic of public policy. But never is an employer more than an innocent bystander.

Therefore, if the workplace becomes an instrument of public policy, the cost should be borne by the Government. That cost is considerable: Capital (machinery, office space) is used less efficiently if tasks are shared between staff.

Another cost is lower flexibility of part-timers. People work part-time because they have other commitments they either must or want to honour.

To have sufficient capacity, an employer will need more full-time employees when using part-timers, as opposed to asking full-timers to work longer sometimes and take time off later as compensation.

Finally, why seek higher birth rates as the reason? The world population is already too large. Global warming, food shortages and pollution are problems partly caused by population pressure. Ageing populations are not an evil to be battled. They are an unavoidable adjustment process to reduce the world population.

Take Singapore. A population of almost five million is already an ambitious target. What is the purpose of making a large part of the population semi-redundant so they can grow the population, mainly to grow an economy which we have first shrunk by allowing people to work part-time?

A smaller number of fully employed people must be the better option.

Wilfred Frederik Nagel

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Filial piety

I was procrastinating at work today, and surfing randomly when I remembered expatsingapore.com where I sometimes hung out before and during the early days of my time in Singapore. I stumbled upon this post and started thinking about the difference between Western and Asian relationships between parents and children.

Quote:
I am Chinese but have never really embraced my culture. Having lived abroad and now in a relationship with a Western man and having friends from all over the world, I am no longer fully in touch with the Chinese values.

I am getting married soon and recently I had a quarrel with my mother because she was upset that I hadn't thought about booking accomodation for the entire family for the wedding (my family live in Malaysia). I would have paid anyway but because I didn't want to create an expectation, I wasn't going to say anything until the bill was presented.

She then brought up the fact that I had never given my parents a cent despite the fact that I "earn so much". (Conveniently forgetting the expensive presents when I visit (admittedly not often) and me giving her every single cent in my savings account after taking out only enough money to cover living expenses for a few weeks when I decided to move abroad for work. And she reminded me that so and so booked the entire resort for their family when they got married....

I am upset of course with her implying that I was an ungrateful daughter but I'd like to find out whether I have broken a tradition or failed an obligation - and whether this would apply in a Western as well as an Eastern culture.

Frankly, my fiance's parents would never have expected us to pay for them to come and they are flying in from Europe and they even offered to contribute towards the wedding expenses, but we said that there was no need although we were grateful for the offer. They are a lot less well-off than my parents. But then again, maybe they are an exception rather than the norm...
Unquote

My first reaction was that the poster's mother is a terrible bitch, however reading the other posts in the thread I remembered the differences between Western and Asian parents, and the concept of filial piety that is so important in Asian (especially Chinese) culture. In somewhat general terms, filial piety means to be good to one's parents; to take care of one's parents; to engage in good conduct not just towards parents but also outside the home so as to bring a good name to one's parents and ancestors; to perform the duties of one's job well so as to obtain the material means to support parents as well as carry out sacrifices to the ancestors; not be rebellious; show love, respect and support;display courtesy; ensure male heirs, uphold fraternity among brothers; wisely advise one's parents, including dissuading them from moral unrighteousness; display sorrow for their sickness and death; and carry out sacrifices after their death.

I also remembered that my friend ED is thinking about getting a girlfriend; and AR has recently proposed to his girlfriend - even though they are as gay as Elton John. I suspect (no, I know) the influence of the parents is definitely there.

I am not going to judge them, or others when they act according to what apparently is such a strong culture influence.

My mom and stepdad were here this weekend and I spent two full days of "quality time" with them. They accept me for what I am, and for that I love them and will always treasure my time with them, as long as they live. Money doesn't come into the equation - my parents had my brothers and me because they wanted to have children, not as some kind of pension fund for their future.

Again, I do not judge other systems, but in my cultural context I am glad I was born in the Western system.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Cycling weekend and 50th birthday party

The annual cycling weekend took RE and myself along the banks of the River Rhine to Düsseldorf. The weather was perfect for cycling and as usual we had a good time. Düsseldorf turned out to be a very nice city with lots of good modern architecture, and nice people as it is the fashion and media capital of Germany. Here is a picture of the morning sun on the Rhine near Xanten.
Yesterday HE celebrated his 50th birthday (the first to turn 50 of the core members of the gang). It was a good party and even though is was Tuesday we all drank too much. I vaguely remember chatting up a very cute, drunk, young Italian tourist who was agressively taken from the scene by his angry and jealous girlfriend.

Monday, 17 August 2009

A missed opportunity

I was having a good time at JI's party last Saturday when CA suddenly called me over and said "there is someone here who wants to meet you". A cute young Asian guy smiled and said "don't you remember me?" and to be honest I had to think long and hard...his face looked familiar but I couldn't immediately "place" him. Turns out it is GA - someone I worked with when I was at XYZ Bank in Singapore - he did a small project for me at the time and we met just a few times at work. I never knew that he was gay and suddenly 4 years later we meet at a party in Amsterdam. He now works for XYZ Bank in Amsterdam, and I was also introduced to his bf. As MA said: another missed opportunity.

Monday, 3 August 2009

The curious life of Ferdi E.

The news this country talked about today was the death (in a traffic accident) of Ferdi E. The man became famous in 1988 when he admitted the kidnapping and murder of business man Gerrit-Jan Heijn, brother of supermarket magnate Albert Heijn whose family owns the shops where most of the country do their daily grocery shopping. In late 1988, Ferdi E was sentenced to 20 years in prison and psychiatric treatment. He was declared "no danger to society" and released on parole in 2001.
At the time he committed his crime in 1987, he was enjoying a disability social security payment. This payment was stopped when he was sentenced guilty. However, according to the laws valid in 1987/8, the social security payment should not have been stopped. Some clever lawyers offered Ferdi E assistance to get his rights, and the courts awarded him € 350,000 in arrears payments. Even here, this raised a storm and the law was changed so that prisoners could not keep their social security payments and leave prison as a rich man. But Ferdi E got to keep his money and bought a nice villa in a village in the East.
Today Gerrit Jan Heijn's widow, Hank Heijn, offered her condolences to her husband's murderer's family, saying "it is always sad when a widow has to miss her partner, and children their father. This is true for Ferdi E's family as well." She is the hero of this story.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Joy, sadness and a bit of everything

Life is so strange sometimes. Last weekend was full of joy with several dinners, parties and a BBQ at my house on Sunday. Then on Monday we got the news that my stepfather has indeed been diagnosed with uncurable lung cancer, and the doctors expect he will only live another 6 to 9 months. I can't imagine how he must feel, given the fact that he feels quite well at the moment and he and my mum have so many plans. They said that they are planning to live on "as if nothing has changed", but of course that is impossible.
Last night MT from London was here as he had a job interview in Amsterdam this morning. Apparently the economy in the UK is much worse than here and he would move back to Amsterdam if he gets a job here, even if it would mean being separated from his partner PE.
And, last but not least, today it is exactly 3 years after I met the sweetest man. There was talk that I had to go on a business trip to Asia and I could surprise him the 2nd weekend of August, but yesterday I learned the trip was cancelled. Sh!t. Well, hopefully soon I can travel Eastwards again.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The U2 concert

Yesterday I went to the U2 concert in the Amsterdam ArenA. It was GREAT. It all started with a warm-up act by a band called Snow Patrol (find their song Shut your eyes on Youtube) which was already very good and bringing the atmosphere to the stadium. U2 played for more than 2 hours and it is amazing how the band and especially Bono can create a "bond" between the audience and the performers. FANTASTIC. I went with MA, FR, CR and some of MA's friends and we were comparing this concert to Madonna and the verdict was clear: U2 is 20 times better. Madonna is just a well-oiled money machine - here with U2 we got 20 times the fun and experience for half the money. A great night out!
Above is an old video of one of their best songs "One love" which they also played last night. Below is a video from last night with "Vertigo".

Monday, 20 July 2009

Marriage, bars and dances

The weekend was quite nice. It started with ED having a stop-over in Amsterdam (just like in December last year) and us having lunch on Friday. This time he was telling me that his parents are putting a lot of pressure on him to get married, and he might give in. "After all, I have been dating men for 15 years and never found real love, so why not try with a woman?" I asked him if he thought it would be easier with a woman and he said "no", but anyway he would consider having a wife, making some children and "leaving the house every other Saturday to fuck some guy." Oh well.
Friday I went to the recently re-opened, and renovated April Bar. I must say I very much like the new decor and it was amazing how many guys turned up all weekend to see the new bar. I ran into dozens of acquaintances that I hadn't seen for a long, long time. Around 2am we all went to Rouge, and when they closed at 3am GO put pressure on me to join him to Cockring. We had a nice conversation there, and I cycled home a happy man after 5am.
Saturday was the day of the annual Colombian / Latin party celebrating Colombia's independence day. Thousands of Colombians who live here gather every year, and wow, those Latinos know how to party. OS, as usual, was dancing non-stop and was extremely popular with the Latin women, and I also tried to dance to the Latin beats. One woman I danced with tried to teach me how to dance better: "just move your body as if you are fucking me". Hmmm.
Yesterday was the day that I said good-bye to BY, who had been staying in the house since early June. He is now an illegal immigrant struggling to get his paperwork in order, and I thought that hosting him for 6 weeks is enough. He has another friend where he can stay so I don't feel too bad about asking him to leave. In the evening, another round of catch-up with long forgotten people in April, a good Thai dinner in restaurant Bangkok, a night cap in Rouge with the gang, and home exhausted and ready for the new week.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Greenland

I am feeling a bit strange today. Bored with everything. I just want to be alone, go far. Maybe hiking for a long while in Greenland, or something like that.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The MJ memorial

So this was probably one of these nights that half of the world was watching the same thing: in this case the Michael Jackson memorial. After 20 minutes I started reading the newspaper, only watching now and then with one eye, which means I found the whole thing extremely boring. And melodramatic, pseudo-religious and non-honest. ;-)
And anyway, can someone explain to me please why all these black people are so proud of a man who spent half his life to look white?

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Bad news

When we went to Portugal, we all noticed that my stepfather was short of energy most of the time. He had trouble walking more than 100 meters or climbing the stairs in the hotel. So when he was back home, he went to the doctor who sent him to hospital where they did some tests and today he got the prelimary results: one of his lungs is operating at only 25% which is caused by either asbestosis or cancer. His entire career he was a load manager in the port cities of Rotterdam, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, and he was exposed to asbestos for more than 30 years. The doctors will do another test next week but it is not looking good. He jokingly asked the doctor "will I ever celebrate my 90th birthday?" (he is 83) and the answer was a clear "no". The doctors will only tell him their prognosis after the upcoming tests, but I am afraid it won't be very long.
He is a good guy and I hope he won't have to suffer much.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Hot in Sitges, hot in Amsterdam

Pffff - it is very hot here and humid. If felt like Singapore when I was cycling home today.
The trip to Sitges was nice. The weather was perfect, around 25C and sunny. Unfortunately, WI had an infection in his shoulder and hand and he had to visit a hospital on Friday, and was feeling bad for the remainder of the trip. Still, we had drinks every day with the gang, late Spanish-style dinners and clubbing until 3am for some of us (like me) and until 8am or 9am for the wilder members of the gang. I liked Sitges which is small enough that you can walk everywhere and big enough that there is a wide choice of bars, restaurants and clubs. And the sea was very blue, the sand very white and the waves very big.
On Sunday we went to see the Barcelona Gay Pride parade - the venue for the after-parade party and events was particularly impressive.
All in all a good trip.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Going to Barcelona / Sitges

Finally! Tomorrow (almost) the entire gang will fly to Barcelona where we will take a train to Sitges, which is the gay friendly beach resort 30 minutes South of Barcelona. There will be some 15 close friends and some 10 fringe friends, so we will be taking over town for a few days. I am looking forward to spending time on the beach, in the bars, eating tapas, visiting the sights of Barcelona and forgetting about work until Monday.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Mixed feelings about China

I am back in Amsterdam after a quick day-flight today - only 9 hours 20 minutes. The project in Tangshan was weird: it is all very old-fashioned there and even our Beijing-based interpreters and assistants were amazed how provincial and backward everything was. There is not much to see or do in Tangshan, and the best hotel is only so-so with inadequate airconditioning, so I was happy to go to Beijing on Friday. Via Facebook DE found out that we would be in Beijing the same day, so I met up with him and his friends WO and RI. They showed me around in the gay-yuppie area of Beijing which was very nice. The modern Chinese are creating a fusion culture just like their counterparts in HK, Singapore and Taipei. We had a great fusion dinner, followed by drinks in a bar called The Boat which is on...a boat, and some clubbing at Beijing's only gay club Destination. As I read before the BJ guys are indeed very reserved, at first I thought it is me, but also WO who is very cute and 20 years younger than I didn't get the attention that he would get in -say- Singapore.
I may have to go back to Tangshan soon. If that is the case I will try to spend a full weekend in Beijing and finally see the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.
But first, my family will be here tomorrow to celebrate my birthday prematurely.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Going to China

Another last minute business trip, this time to Tangshan, China. Later today I will fly to Beijing where I will meet with two colleagues and will go by car to Tangshan. We have a small project there and it is our task if we can get a business plan together to turn it into something big. We will be joined by a few translators / interpreters from our Chinese partner firm - we will see how difficult communication will be but I fear the worst.
I am afraid there won't be any time left to see the Great Wall or other sights - one day I must return to China and actually see something!

Monday, 8 June 2009

An unexpected visitor


Yesterday was a nice day. First, I went to see the World Press Photo Exhibition where some 200, mostly impressive, photos were shown. Here are two of the winners in the category "sport". After the exhibition we went to see Terminator Salvation (the only movie for which tickets were available that we could squeeze in between the exhibition and the happy hour), which was not as bad as suspected.
After a quick Thai dinner the entire gang met in Soho and moved to Rouge after the happy hour ended. Suddenly, BY walked in who I hadn't seen in 2 years. He more or less disappeared from Amsterdam and I found out yesterday that he has been living in Spain. Officially, he is still together with his Dutch ex-boyfriend and he came to Amsterdam to do the paperwork which will get him a Dutch passport soon. Yesterday he had just arrived from Spain (by bus!) and he was looking for a place to sleep, so unexpectedly we have a guest in the house for a couple of days. Well, BY is a nice guy so don't mind him occupying some space here - for a while. I jokingly asked him how many months he is planning to stay, and fortunately he said "just a couple of days".
In other news, Singapore Airlines is running a promotion: only € 599 for a return ticket. I should make some plans soon.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Miscellaneous news

1. A team of Australian military cooks has been rushed to Afghanistan after troops deployed there complained about the Dutch food they are being served. The Dutch are in charge of the mess and the Aussies are less than happy about the food. There have been so many complaints about the Dutch food being “tasteless” and “not fresh” that the issue has been raised in the parliament in Canberra.
At a special defence budget hearing, Australia’s military commander air chief marshall Angus Houston commented: “It’s not Aussie food, it’s European food. People have been quite strong in their views about the European food”. Senator David Johnston said, “I think it was an insult to them. The least they could expect when they are deployed for six months is that they can eat proper food”.

2. Childless men tend to be happier, according to research by the Dutch demographic institute NIDI. Fathers have less time to spend with their wives or doing their own thing, which they experience as a negative factor.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

A sunny day on the beach

I spent most of yesterday on the beach with the gang - it was a national holiday here (the last one until Christmas!) and the weather was perfect for sun, sand and sangria. We had been partying on Sunday night, so most of the gang fell asleep which gave me a chance to read my book while keeping an eye on a group of boys playing football.
Sunday night finally DAZ came to the bar - ever since he is playing dad to his two children he hardly comes out. It was good to catch up with him and getting to know his boyfriend who turns out to be a nice guy. Also, TD who used to be my hairdresser before I knew OS made an appearance. It is amazing how he can look like 35 when he is in his early 50s. Me jealous.....
So now it is work with no special holidays until Christmas. Well, I have some 4 weeks of vacation left this year which will be put to excellent use.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Bingo

It is a beautiful weekend here, weather-wise, so when KE called yesterday afternoon if I wanted to join him at Spijker Bar my first reaction was no. Come on, it is not like it is always sunny here so why disappear into one of the darkest bars on a sunny afternoon. On second thought, however, it has been such a long time that I was in Spijker I decided to join him. They had a bingo game on so we all joined and played. Bingo is, of course, normally associated with old ladies in retirement homes, but it was also fun to play it with a group of gay men.
After the game ended, we decided to enjoy the sun some more on a terrace. One of KE's friends, KH joined. He is a nice Irishman - just one negative about him is that he talks with a lot of saliva leaving his mouth......
When I got home SA called and came for a few drinks (the Porto freshly imported from Portugal served us well). An unexpectedly nice day.
Now I am waiting for MI from Toronto to call - he is in Amsterdam for only 4 hours this morning (he is boarding a cruise ship here) and it would be great to see him after... what? eight years?

Monday, 25 May 2009

Beautiful Portugal




The trip to Portugal was very nice. The scenery was great, especially the grapevines in the region of the Douro river (where the Port wine is produced) and in the extreme North East of the country, which is very sparsely populated and "rough". Furthermore, every town and village had some nice church or castle, the food was simple but good, the wines excellent and everything (very) cheap. A beer for 70 cents and a 3-course meal with wine for 4 for 60 euro!
Somehow I didn't travel much in Europe during the last 10 years or so, which is a shame as there is so much to see and enjoy here so close to home.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Going to Portugal

In a few hours I will be going to the airport to fly to Porto, where we will rent a car and drive around Northern Portugal for a week. Like last year, I am taking my mom, stepfather and OS on a trip. We'll sleep in Pousadas (historical buildings turned into hotels) which should be nice.
I was sick and tired of work yesterday so it will be good to switch off for a week.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Relationships

Someone sent me this:

Golden rules for finding your life partner by Dov Heller, M.A

When it comes to making the decision about choosing a life partner, no one wants to make a mistake. Yet, with a divorce rate of close to 50%, it appears that many are making serious mistakes in their approach to finding Mr. /Miss. Right!

If you ask most couples who are engaged why they're getting married, they'll say: "We're in love". I believe this is the #1 mistake people make when they date. Choosing a life partner should never be based on love.

Though this may sound "not politically correct", there's a profound truth here. Love is not the basis for getting married. Rather, love is the result of a good marriage. When the other ingredients are right, then the love will come. Let me say it again: "You can't build a lifetime relationship on love alone". You need a lot more!!!

Here are five questions you must ask yourself if you're serious about finding and keeping a life partner.

QUESTION 1: Do we share a common life purpose?
Why is this so important? Let me put it this way: If you're married for 20 or 30 years, that's a long time to live with someone. What do you plan to do with each other all that time? Travel, eat and jog together? You need to share something deeper and more meaningful. You need a common life purpose.
Two things can happen in a marriage:
(1) You can grow together, or
(2) You can grow apart.
50% of the people out there are growing apart. To make a marriage work, you need to know what you want out of life! Bottom line; and marry someone who wants the same thing.

QUESTION 2: Do I feel safe expressing my feelings and thoughts with this
person?
This question goes to the core of the quality of your relationship. Feeling safe means you can communicate openly with this person. The basis of having good communication is trust - i.e. trust that I won't get "punished"; or hurt for expressing my honest thoughts and feelings. A colleague of mine defines an abusive person as someone with whom you feel afraid to express your thoughts and feelings. Be honest with yourself on this one. Make sure you feel emotionally safe with the person you plan to marry.

QUESTION 3: Is he/she a mensch?
A mensch is someone who is a refined and sensitive person. How can you
test? Here are some suggestions.
Do they work on personal growth on a regular basis?
Are they serious about improving themselves?
A teacher of mine defines a good person as "someone who is always striving to be good and do the right". So ask your significant other what do they do with their time? Is this person materialistic? Usually a materialistic person is not someone whose top priority is character refinement.

There are essentially two types of people in the world:
(1) People who are dedicated to personal growth, and
(2) People who are dedicated to seeking comfort.
Someone whose goal in life is to be comfortable will put personal comfort ahead of doing the right thing. You need to know that before walking down the aisle.

QUESTION 4: How does he/she treat other people?
The one most important thing that makes any relationship work is the ability to give. By giving, we mean the ability to give another person pleasure.
Ask: Is this someone who enjoys giving pleasure to others or are they wrapped up in themselves and self-absorbed?
To measure this, think about the following:
· How do they treat people whom they do not have to be nice to, such as waiters, bus boys, taxi drivers, etc.
· How do they treat their parents and siblings?
Do they have gratitude and appreciation? If they don't have gratitude for the people who have given them everything; can you do nearly as much for them? You can be sure that someone who treats others poorly will eventually treat you poorly as well.

QUESTION 5: Is there anything I'm hoping to change about this person after we're married?
Too many people make the mistake of marrying someone with the intention of trying to "improve" them after they're married. As a colleague of mine puts it, "You can probably expect someone to change after marriage for the worse". If you cannot fully accept this person the way they are now, then you are not ready to marry them.

In conclusion, dating doesn't have to be difficult and treacherous. The key is to try leading a little more with your head and less with your heart. It pays to be as objective as possible when you are dating; so be sure to ask questions that will help you get to the key issues. Falling in love is a great feeling, but when you wake up with a ring on your finger, you don't want to find yourself in trouble because you didn't do your homework.

I fully agree with the reasoning after questions 2, 4 and 5, and mostly agree with 1 and 3.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The end of blogging

During the last few years, I was a regular reader of some of my friends' blogs. However, it seems that the fashion for blogging has evaporated as quickly as it emerged.
DA from SF informed me he has closed his blog, he says: "don't have many things to write about and it is time to move to other projects."
Sgboy has password-protected his blog, and it seems that ever since he met his fairy tale (and he supposedly is monogamous) he doesn't know what to write about.
AgentX hasn't updated his blog in a long time, but he is very active on Facebook just like CO from SIN, so these people seem to have replaced blogging by Facebooking.
So that leaves just AR from OZ who is as active as before in blog-land.
As for myself, we'll see.....

Monday, 11 May 2009

The Duke

We had our annual reunion of University friends this weekend and JA arranged a nice walk through the forests in Noord Drenthe, followed by drinks and dinner in Groningen. When he gave me the address of the restaurant, the street name sounded vaguely familiar, but didn't immediately ring a bell. It was only when I arrived at the restaurant that I remembered that this was the location of the first gay bar I ever went to, The Duke. I must have been 18, having just arrived as a freshman at Groningen University, that I dared to set foot in this gay bar. I remember ordering a beer, and when I just took my first sip was approached by a very old man, who must have been at least 30..... memories....
The Duke no longer exists, and we had a very enjoyable dinner at the same location where long ago, I ran away before even finishing my beer........

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Waiting to go home

I am in my hotel room in Tbilisi - it is almost midnight and I am killing time until the taxi will pick me and my colleague up at 2am for our 4am flight via Prague to Amsterdam. I don't know why, but flights from this part of the world always leave in the middle of the night which of course is horrible. If all goes well I'll be in Amsterdam at 9am, a quick shower and to the office again.
I had an OK time here, work was interesting and perhaps we will have a project here. There is a very unstable political situation here in Georgia and on Tuesday there was a rumour about a military coup d'etat which was surpressed. However, I am more than ready to go home and sleep in my own bed again. Not this weekend because we have our annual reunion of Uni friends so more travelling on Saturday and Sunday.....

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Going to თბილისი

I just came home from a nice dinner in Restaurant De Belhamel with CA. The restaurant is becoming one of my favourites and today they had the special fresh asparagus menu which we took. I had planned to take CA to a vegetarian restaurant but this turned out to be an excellent alternative. It had been a while since I saw CA and she updated me about her husband, daughter, job, family and friends. The good thing about CA is that there is no need to say much as she will talk incessantly. ;-)
And now, once again, I am packing my bag for my business trip to თბილისი this coming week. It is a last minute thing, I had hardly any time to prepare so we'll see what happens there. Anyway, it is my first trip to თბილისი which is the capital of საქართველო, so it will be an interesting experience.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

A strange Queen's Day

It was a strange Queen's Day this year. Queen's Night was great, the entire gang was out and we were on the streets until 1am when it got too cold and we escaped inside to Amstel 54. The crowd was good, crowded but not too busy. RM was very drunk and I got to know him a little bit better, LE and his bf ED from Manila were in town - LE sure added a few pounds in the Far East.
On Queen's Day OS wanted to go into town (too) early, we started at De Engel which was fun but not crowded yet at 2pm. Around 430 we ended up at Amstel and one after the other the gang showed up. We should have stayed there but somehow DA convinced us all to move around the corner where there was more "danceable" music. However, the atmosphere there was not as nice and around 730pm I called it a day. Once home, I saw the car attack on TV and only then realized that most Queen's Day festivities had been cancelled. Only in Amsterdam they didn't dare to stop the party as there were 650,000 people in town and they were afraid of chaos should they have stopped the party early.
Picture: Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima watch in horror when a car crashes through a crowd of people, killing 7.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Only in Amsterdam.....

Dutch park unveils signs pointing to gay 'cruiser' areas

A PARK near Amsterdam has unveiled information signs pointing out spots where officials say gay men are known to have sex - so no visitors are taken by surprise.
The signs "clearly indicate what is happening in each zone; also those where gay men are known to practice 'cruising'," municipal spokeswoman Manon Koffijberg said. Cruising is a slang word used to describe the act of trawling for casual sex.

"If you don't want to be confronted by a vision of that sort, the signs allow you to avoid specific areas," said Ms Koffijberg.

The De Oeverlanden park in Slotervaart, southwest of Amsterdam, is known as a place where homosexuals from all over the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe go in search of sex partners. The sexual activities of cruisers, she said, kept mostly to the bushes in the park, and the new signs sought to ensure that they stayed there.

"There are various groups of users of the park; people with small children who bathe on the beaches, those who walk their dogs, gays cruising and nature lovers," said Ms Koffijberg. "Things are arranged so that each group can relax in their own area without intruding on each other."

Well, I am not too sure this is good for acceptance of gays.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Going home

I am at Kuala Lumpur Airport transit lounge waiting for my flight back to Amsterdam, and hoping that the flight is as empty as on the way out so that I can stretch out and sleep. It feels strange to be so close to the sweetest man and not have time to see him, but I am needed in the office as both bosses are traveling and there is lots of work.
Vietnam was OK, managed to squeeze in a weekend trip to Halong Bay which was nice. It was a small project only so I don't think I will go back there again soon.
One of my bosses is in Papua New Guinea and it seems the client is happy with the report that I was so worried about, and will give us a lot more work. Quite a relief for me.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Going to Hanoi

We have a small project in Hanoi and I will be going there tomorrow for one week. It is not my favourite city in the world, but I am still looking forward to eating a lot of Phở and meeting BI ("you are very old and ugly to me") But first, 15 hours on bloody planes.

Monday, 13 April 2009

A brilliant Easter day

It is what we call "second Easter day" today, a public holiday, and the weather is just brilliant. Worked in the garden just now and had a nice bike tour earlier. Went out with the gang yesterday from 7pm until 3am so it was good today was not a work day.
Paris was wonderful, I had forgotten how grand and majestic the city is. We were very lucky with our picks for food and drinks, had the most wonderful Tarte Du Citron and Assiette de Fromages. For some reason SI and I always pick some very touristy place to sit down, and order some finger food and wine, and are having a wonderful time. This time the touristy place was the Jardins des Tuileries, the wine was Rose, and the finger food various French cheeses.
After walking around for two full days we gave up on the gay bars after one quick beer.
Tomorrow one busy day at work, and packing my bag again for a work trip....

Le printemps à Paris 2009





Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Going to Paris

Tomorrow I will be going to Paris! I have a little work to do there, and also will be meeting the wonderful SI from Hong Kong who is spending the Easter weekend in Europe. It has been long since I was in Paris, I should be going much more often as it is only 4 hours by train.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Falling like dominos.....

Good news:
Sweden will allow gay couples to be legally married from next month. Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to recognise same-sex marriage, becoming the fifth country in Europe to do so.
Across the ocean, the states of Vermont and Iowa in the USA have also allowed same-sex couples to marry.
Even Iowa! I am surprised. But very good news. Now if only the larger European countries (Germany, France, UK) would follow the example of the smaller ones, and Obama would be courageous enough to support gay marriages everywhere in the US, we would be making even swifter progress.

Saving on potatoes

Economic crisis everywhere, if we have to believe the non-stop stories on TV, in the newspapers and on web sites.
So a Dutch newspaper did some research and discovered where the average Dutchman and Dutch-woman is saving money. Here is the list of products that Dutch people spend less money on:
1. Potatoes. Potatoes? The staple food here? The crisis must be bad if people are saving on potatoes.
2. Toothpaste. Toothpaste? So instead of spending a few euros on toothpaste these idiots will spend lots of money on dentists in a few years.
3. Deodorant. Yuck.
4. Fish. This I can understand. Fish has become too expensive in this country.
5. Cosmetics. This I can fully understand. Hehe

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Not a good start of the month

I am working on a tedious assignment at work - trying to make a coherent story out of the contributions of 8 people. Alltogether there are more than 250 pages of blah-blah, written in different styles and formats, and it is my task to make sure that the end result is a nice report. Yesterday I couldn't see myself complete the tasks and for the first time in a long while I developed physical stress. I had to escape from the office and take a walk and breath of fresh air to recover a bit. It didn't help also that I am suffering from a cold and am feeling miserable, I hardly got any sleep last night and had to drag myself to the office this morning.
I hope I feel better tomorrow and make some progress on the report, otherwise I know I won't enjoy the weekend.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Bubbles

1. a loud person expressing mostly empty words. People that talk too much but say too little. I was confronted today with two ladies that we work with that are big bubbles. For some reason, they have charmed my bosses (they ain't pretty) and they have cheated us for a lot of money. Am I the only one who is seeing their true motives? I almost said "hey, bitch, fuck off" to one of them today and was barely able to keep my professionalism. They know they can't charm me and they hate me for it. Hehe.
2. a speculative scheme that comes to nothing, or in other words: the economy in countries like the US, Iceland, Ireland and Dubai. After the bubble -caused by living beyond their means- deflated, what are the governments trying to do? Inflate the same bubble with government money all over again. It might even work for a while, but someday the enormous government debt will have to be paid back. At which time the _real_ economic crisis will start. Fasten your seat belts.
3. to display irrepressible activity or emotion. It is Spring, the flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and Life Is Good.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Bush vs. Obama

The attractiveness of Westerners

Interesting news from China: Chinese women are losing interest in foreign men as the financial crisis hits western wallets. A survey by matchmaking website Hongniang.com showed that before the "Lehman crash" of September 2008, 72 percent of Chinese women married to foreigners were happy with their lot, but that figure has since dropped to 54 percent. And the proportion of Chinese women who say they would be willing to marry foreigners has slumped from 43 percent to just 17 percent.
These statistics are probably true for gay men, too. And I expect that thirty years from now, rich old Chinese men will be coming to Western gay bars to pick up cute blond boys. The world is changing.
By the way, 90 kg. Ahead of schedule.

Happy ending

Am I the only one who saw the title of this article, and was thinking: I never knew that the allmighty was providing those services?

Sunday, 15 March 2009

A beautiful, full life

I received the sad news that my next-door-neighbour passed away in hospital yesterday morning. Last weekend, suddenly there was an ambulance, a bit later a firemen's truck arrived, and a bit later I saw that the firemen got her out of her second story bedroom window and into the ambulance. Her daughter said she didn't know how bad the problems were, but when I saw her (her bedroom is right next to mine) she looked very weak. Earlier this week I heard that she was "slowly getting better", but on Friday the news was worse and she passed on Saturday morning. She was 89 years old and as far as I know she led a full and happy life. When I moved into this house she was already 73, and she and her husband (who died 3 years ago) were such a fun couple. They had 6 children and I don't know how many grand- and great-grand children, and it seemed they were all visiting every day. There was a non-stop stream of visitors to their house, and when I popped in for a quick chat or we had a neighbourly talk "across the hedge" she often offered some food or fruit. She was also full of stories including some about men that had wanted her when she was young. She will be missed.
Her passing also reminded me of what SO said when he and RE were visiting last week. SO raised the topic "what will we leave behind when we are gone" and after joking that he must have a mid-life crisis we talked about it more seriously. RE and I agreed that there is no real need to leave anything behind: if you have a good life, and you try to be good to some other people, that's basically enough. But SO wanted to leave something more tangible so he is thinking about volunteer work, "doing something meaningful for the world".
I hadn't met the gang for two weeks and I made up for it on Friday night. Was happy to see PA and MC who were visiting from Germany, RO introduced his new boyfriend LA and told me about all the drama of their relationship (mainly caused by LA's ex-bf), and I talked with a Taiwanese tourist who said he "loves Amsterdam because everybody always smiles". Maybe he spent too much time in the gay bars and not enough time in supermarkets, offices and public transport.......

93 kg

On schedule.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Love is in the air

Spring has arrived and love is in the air:
1) RO is head over heels with his new found lover. We (as in: the gang) haven't met him yet, but RO can't talk about anything else. Apparently the object of his desire is attached to someone else so it is not an easy love. I have known RO for almost 10 years and this is the first time I have seen him like this. And this is the same RO that was indiscriminately fucking every slim Asian man that he could lay his hands on. ;-)
2) Sgboy writes that he is totally and completely in love. Good for him! And this is the same sgboy that was indiscriminately fucking every bald man that he could lay his hands on, and if he couldn't find a bald one a man with hair would do, too. ;-)
3) TO from Moscow visited Amsterdam for the 4th time in a year. I spent time with him on Friday and Saturday, but decided to keep a distance on Saturday evening and Sunday as I am afraid he is developing "feelings". He is handsome and nice, but I will never fall in love with him - the chemistry is just not there.

As for me, after all this time I am still feeling the same butterflies for the sweetest man in the world that RO and sgboy must be experiencing for their new loves......

Friday, 6 March 2009

Uncle

Yesterday I had this minor traffic incident on my bike (a young guy had to stop for me as I had priority, and he wasn't happy and shouted something that included "ouwe" (Dutch for "oldie")), and I was reminded that in Singapore I was called "uncle" once (yeah, just once fortunately). And now I read this: "IN THE past 10 years, there has been a trend among service staff to address men over 50 as 'uncle'. I find this very offensive. We all know that 'auntie' and 'uncle' are not terms of endearment when used to address strangers in Singapore. If anything, they have come to denote someone who is old, less-educated, dull, slow-witted, nit-picking, loud, uncouth, parochial, uninformed, pedantic and clumsy, among many more negative traits. Time to do everything I can to look 10 years younger!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Slimming down

OK - it is time to slim down again. Last time I was really slim was in 1996 after TR, my American bf dumped me. I lost 12 kg in about 3 months and went from 94 kg to 82 kg. After I slimmed down, TR knocked on my door to have another chance but 1) he couldn't believe his eyes how much weight I'd lost; and 2) I didn't want him back. Ha!
Now last week I was 95 kg and I must be able to bring it down to 85 kg. (of course 82 would be nice but I am a bit older so let's try for 85 first, ok?) Ten days of exercising and watching my calorie intake got me to 94 kg today - so if I can keep this schedule and lose 1 kg during every 10 days, by mid-June I should be at 85 kg. Just in time for the Sitges trip. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

I watched Slumdog Millionaire tonight. I am not going to give you my review as I am sure you have all seen the movie and have your own opinions. Just two things: the movie reminded me why I don't like India. I have been to a lot of poor countries and I have seen misery everywhere - it is just that in India so much of the misery is man-made. And secondly one must admire Jamal Malik for all he does to be reunited with his lost love. An example to follow.

Monday, 2 March 2009

Research that I would love to do

Who says that economists are boring? Surf to this page, and you are guaranteed a nice read about where the consumers of porn can be found in the US. Of course, the Journal of Economic Perspectives doesn't call it porn but "adult entertainment", but I am sure the researchers had a great time anyway.
I learned a lot from reading this article. Did you know, for instance, that Canada used to have a special visa category for would be adult-entertainers, "who had to demonstrate their skills"? I would have loved to be an immigration officer in those days......
And also Utah has a significantly higher percentage of consumers of porn than other states. Those Mormons seem to need inspiration for breeding so much.....

Sunday, 22 February 2009

My trip to Papua New Guinea

I always like to visit new places even if only once, and never again..... It looks like we may have more work to do in Papua New Guinea (PNG) so there is a chance that I may have to go back. The country has everything going for it: beautiful unspoilt nature, great beaches with snorkeling and diving, exotic culture with many different cultures, good climate. The only downside is the security situation: it is virtually impossible to travel around safely. We met some Australians (PNG is basically (not officially, but in actual practice) an Australian colony) who don´t leave their house except to go to work or the social club. And almost everyone we talked to had had their car stolen or experienced other robberies. I just wouldn´t want to live in a place where I can´t leave my house whenever I want to and to go wherever I want to safely.
We did a trip to the start of the Kokoda trail and were accompanied by 3 armed policemen that the client had arranged.
Work was good, as I said the place is basically run by Ozzies and a few Kiwis so communication was easy and I can´t remember how often I heard `no worries mate`. Some of the locals are well educated but a large percentage of the population `still live in trees` as one of my colleagues commented.
The hotel was nice and the restaurant and the gym overlooked the runway of the Port Moresby airport and the mountains in the background.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Back to reality

I am back home and back to reality. The beginning and end of this trip made me realize what I miss in my life. Sometimes life is not fair.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Going to Port Moresby

Tomorrow I will fly to Singapore where I will spend the weekend before flying to Port Moresby on Monday for two weeks of work in Papua New Guinea.
It is going to be interesting, certainly after reading this:

Rankings of the best and worst cities of the world for expatriates, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, with hardship rating in brackets, by percentage.

TOP 10 CITIES

1. Melbourne (1)
1. Vancouver (1)
3. Perth (2)
4. Vienna (3)
4. Toronto (3)
4. Geneva (3)
4. Zurich (3)
8. Adelaide (4)
8. Brisbane (4)
8. Sydney (4)
8. Copenhagen (4)
8. Dusseldorf (4)
8. Frankfurt (4)
8. Oslo (4)
8. Montreal (4)

BOTTOM 10

121. New Delhi (57)
122. Dakar (59)
123. Abidjan (60)
124. Mumbai (62)
125. Algiers (67)
126 Phnom Penh (70)
127 Dhaka (71)
127 Lagos (71)
129 Karachi (74)
130 Port Moresby (80)