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Father's day and Women Driving in Saudi Arabia - a week later!

Last weekend, Saudi women got behind their wheels and drove. It was also my father's birthday, as well as father's day in general. I had just come back from Algeria and Spain with many things to say .... I was writing faster than editing, and with so much going on, I scattered my words all over the place .... So I left them.

I had wanted to organize a demonstration with art-installations, showing support to Saudi women and their right for autonomy. I even wrote the announcement: where to be and what to do and why.
"You'd probably need to contact Saudi women here first" a friend advised, "to not get suspicious eyebrows." She told me I'd have to start the campaign by making a logo and clarifying a statement, and putting it out.
It sounded like a lot of work .... I thought for a minute: I had only 5 days to do this, and had just come back from Spain, with a play to rehearse and a book to edit and laundry to do ... weighing the options:
I am artist, and not cut out for organizing demonstrations.
We do what we can, in the way we can and the place ...

I follow up on news
On an internet site, a woman warns against the terrible consequences of letting women drive. In gist, she says:
"What women don't realize is that this is a trick, they will end up driving and having to do everything, instead of being driven and taken care of. It will make their lives more troublesome, burdened with having to do shores. Owning a car is as expensive as having a driver, so you won't be saving anyway!"

My father and I laugh about this together.
My father taught me how to drive, before I reached driving age. But I nonetheless had to take compulsory driving courses. So I spent them learning how to drive while smoking, eating, changing gears, talking to the instructor next to me and her boss in the back ... while parallel parking. Now, I'm a better driver than my father.
"A parent wants his children to be better than himself" he always said.
Today, my father likes it when I drive him to places.
We talk about everything .... from politics to dreams.

Cars and Dreams

In dreams, driving a car is a common motif. Sometimes the car is going too fast, sometimes too slow, sometimes not working, sometimes going uphill and sometimes down, sometimes it's a truck or bus or bicycle.
Is the car yours, is it a taxi, is it rented?
What the vehicle is is indeed very important, but perhaps the more important question is:
"Who is driving the car," said the caterpillar.
Who is in control of the vehicle?
Is it you? Is it someone else, are there several people taking turns, is it someone you know or someone you don't, is it the Grim Reaper?
No one driving at all?
How mysterious ....
Fog ... it's a hybrid between a person and a frog behind the wheel; or maybe it's your tenth grade English teacher?

The car is you, it is part of your consciousness, it is your vehicle, could be your body, your physical manifestation on the road of life. It is unique to the individual; its the mode of transport; it is also movement.
In the old times, people might have had more dreams about riding their horse, donkey, or camel .... camels ...
Camels are quite spiritual you know, but then, so are all animals.
They spend their time marveling in their god's creation. Oh, the birds .....

The birds, they sing .... early in the morning, in the suburbs of Amman , or on the shores of the Mediterranean ... they get so excited when the sun comes up. It happens every morning, but they sing like it's the first time, they never seem to take it for granted.

On the last Friday in Algeria, into the morning of Sabt, the first bird sings. it sings and sings on its own for a while, and then is silent. For an instant, it's as if no one heard it ... but then, from all sides, sounds start ... each one on its own, and then conversing.
More and more wake up.
The Sun is up. Open your eyes.

سبحان ربي الذي خلق
Subhaan rabiy-al-lathi khalaq

In Algeria, it was all green and lush. My eyes were washed.
In Amman, I had left my plants on the roof in the care of my father.
After two weeks when I came back, I found them blooming. He has green thumbs, it seems, my father. But he also gives them 2 times as much water as I do.
I must be drying the poor things up.
I do have a history ... Twice, in my life I have managed to kill cactus - out of negligence, too little water, and then too much, a shock of sun to dry them, or simply - my worst offense, forgetting to put them into soil - but I didn't have time!
I killed cactus, of thirst, but of the last batch, the two big cacti survived ... one of them is even flowering.

Cactus ... they tell me my grandmother used to fix broken bones by wrapping two pieces of hot cacti on either side of the break. It apparently worked. They say she used to practice Arabic folk medicine ... None of my aunts learnt from her. Now it's gone.

How did I end up here ...... oh yes, the cactus.

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De Paardenbloemkamer

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Mijn eerste Nederlandse-talige publikate.  De eerst van een serie fabels.
"De Paardenbloemkamer"
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The book is the fruit of a wonderful project by the Lionsclub Venlo, aimed at encouraging children to read and write... and most importantly, to imagine.
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The result, a wonderful book full of imagination. Venlo might be a little city, but it it's een stedje with big ideas.



Photo from the book launch in Domani, Venlo on 23 November, 2016 with Tristan Thijsen (our idea-maker) and Floor Kurstjens (illustrator)


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