Posts Tagged ‘Amsterdam’

I’m so excited! It’s the 1st of July, and officially the start of the #31Days31Writers – mid year edition! Why am I super excited? Well, so I’ve been all over the place this past month, and by the 26th I wasn’t sure I would still be able  to pull this off. But, here we are, and I’ve got such a spread of voices from around the world I’m mega excited!

We start with my friend Yama! Yama was our designate driver the night we went from The Hague to Amsterdam to see the Red Light District; he’s a fantastic, super brilliant guy, and it’s my privilege to start the month with a voice from Afghanistan!

 

Hi there,

First of let me start by saying: You look absolutely stunning today!

My name is Yama Akbari. Born in Afghanistan, living in The Netherlands. Student and business owner.

What I’ve learned in the past 6 months is that life is so incredibly difficult to plan. I’m not much of a planner anyway, I usually take things as they come. But I decided that needed to change a little (a part of growing up maybe…). Didn’t really pan out the way I wanted. I planned to focus more on my studies, but ended up working way more than studying. Was really planning on staying single, instead got to know someone I really could not let go of. This made me wonder: Why do I suck so badly at planning my life? I came to the conclusion that life is pretty much ‘unplannable’ for the most part when I started thinking about ‘planning’ on a larger scale.

For example, who could ever ‘plan’ the following: a kid born in Kabul in 1990, wanting to leave for the gym on the 30th of June 2014 (should have been studying for his exams, shame on him) would remember; promising a very inspiring Nigerian girl he met at a conference in The Hague, to write a few words for her blog. Crazy right? But kind of beautiful at the same time. Imagine the string of events that had to take place before this moment. Unfortunately, a lot of those events weren’t as joyful as this one, which leads to the second thing I learned in the past 6 months: Andre 3000’s fashion sense isn’t the only thing that’s spot on, his cryptic life lessons are as well. On the Outkast song ‘Ms. Jackson’ he sings: ‘you can plan a pretty picnic but you can’t predict the weather’. I finally got it Andre, you keep on spitting mad truth and dressing dapper as hell!

That brings me to what I’m looking forward to for the second half of this year .. Not really easy to say after all of that ‘life is crazy and unpredictable’ stuff. I am actually thinking about what I’m looking forward to while writing this sentence and I’m realizing that it’s such a blessing that I’m not sure what to look forward to (huge smile on my face right now). All those unplanned moments of joy; that feeling of relief when everything turns out well after a moment of uncertainty, an unexpected phone call from an old friend, coming home and getting served your favorite meal, being the best at something very random and useless, witnessing a cute moment between two lovers, stumbling upon a family of ducks swimming in a pond (I’m running out of ideas..), seeing an old lady feeding those ducks and making sure the weakest one gets as much as the rest. All I’m planning and looking forward to (apart from studying and working, duh) is actually enjoying and appreciating all those little unexpected moments of joy.

I urge you to do so as well. Even if it’s something very unexpected and random. Let’s say: a guy from halfway across the world, at the start of his post on this blog, complimenting you that you look stunning without even knowing what you look like …

 

Yama.

Screenshot 2014-06-30 23.43.40

This is my final post from The Hague, and will be a mash-up of places we went, things we did, and even though there’s an overload of photos, there’s a video (or two) too!

In case you didn’t catch them, parts one and two are here and here.

This video was made by Royce Lyssah Malabonga just before her presentation on her home country, The Philippines!

The day before we left, we went to the Grote Markt (a market that has a large sit out area that the pubs in the area use) and there was a band playing songs from all over the world. It was so much fun! We danced to music we didn’t understand, lol.

It was so much fun! Singing and dancing to songs we didn’t know, and all the yelling! Guess what? I was chatting to Paulien about the number of bicycles in The Hague and if she ever forgets where she’s parked hers. She said it wasn’t really about forgetting but about them getting stolen, and that bicycle theft is the biggest crime in the country. Bicycle theft? We’d take that here over Boko Haram, the ‘unknown gunmen’, and the kidnappers in a heart beat!

Anyway, a few pictures from our day out at Peace Palace!

Outside peace palace! Thanks to Director Chris for the fabulous photo!

Outside peace palace! Thanks to Director Chris for the fabulous photo!

Lunch at peace palace... Lots of greens, a lovely brown bread sandwich, and apple juice! Yummy but I was hungry soon after!

Lunch at peace palace… Lots of greens, a lovely brown bread sandwich, and apple juice! Yummy but I was hungry soon after!

Ice cream galore! (There are one too many ice cream pictures - I had only one!)

Ice cream galore! (There are one too many ice cream pictures – I had only one!)

Nigeria, Botswana, and Uganda represented!

Nigeria, Botswana, and Uganda represented!

And a few more!

Miss Colombia!!

Miss Colombia!!

Dinner at an Italian place (don't remember the name now... Just know that my pasta and salmon was fab!

Dinner at an Italian place (don’t remember the name now… Just know that my pasta and salmon was fab!

My dear Kaushalya from Sri Lanka!! Thank you for taking all the amazing photos!

My dear Kaushalya from Sri Lanka!! Thank you for taking all the amazing photos!

I know I've used this before but I had to use it again! Nigeria's the best country, warts and all!

I know I’ve used this before but I had to use it again! Nigeria’s the best country, warts and all!

Now, some of the boys had been to Amsterdam the evening before (and I didn’t know, sob), and even though I had moved my ticket forward by 12 hours, it didn’t look like I was going to make it to Amsterdam to see the sights (including the Red Light District)!

I had given up, when Yama came over and asked if I still wanted to go. Yama is from Afghanistan, but has lived in The Netherlands for the past 15 years. He’s a data and securities professional, and loves fashion too! Of course I still wanted to go but time check? 10pm!

Silindile and Charity were up for it, and so we left! Had to get back to hotel studio to get his car (and Lord knows how we passed our tram stop), but by 11pm, we were driving to Amsterdam! With Kaushalaya, who had woken up, heard we were going, and jumped in the car!

We played music all the way, ranging from Ice Prince’s Oleku to DJ Cleo’s Bafana Bafana, whoop!

Like Yama warned, I was disappointed with the Red Light District. Not like the women weren’t in the windows or anything, but (and I’d hate to sound judgmental), I wondered how the women (and men, and transvestites) felt each night after ‘work’. Happy? Sad? Invaded? Was a very sad thought.

We had chips from the best spot in Amsterdam (thanks to Yama), and then after looking around a bit, it was a drive back to The Hague! Got in about 3.20am, and everyone just dropped into bed!

Massive thank you to Yama for driving us there, buying us drinks (and those extra juicy strawberries Charity picked out), and for being the perfect host, and gentleman. Thank you!

Four musketeers... Silindile, Kaushalya, me, and Charity! Photo credit: Yama!

Four musketeers… Silindile, Kaushalya, me, and Charity! Photo credit: Yama!

Really fancy hotel... most beautiful in the whole of the country according to Yama!

Really fancy hotel… most beautiful in the whole of the country according to Yama!

Midnight fries baby! Best spot for chips in Amsterdam, again according to Yama! I think I agree!

Midnight fries baby! Best spot for chips in Amsterdam, again according to Yama! I think I agree!

 

Selfie before we got into the car for the drive back to The Hague. Time check? 2am!

Selfie before we got into the car for the drive back to The Hague. Time check? 2am!

We all woke up late (of course), and it was off to The Concordia for our closing session. Nooo!!! We didn’t want to go! After a couple speeches and thank you’s (including the Director’s weird but very sweet dream about the participants, Ban Ki-Moon and a marriage involving me and two of the guys, lol), we received our certificates of participation, signed our big eight (signifying our happiness rating out of 10), and Hope XXL Triple A Summit was officially over!

This isn't the end Paulien, we will do you proud!

This isn’t the end Paulien!

Big thank you to Paulien Boone, Chris Vaan De Ven, Koos, and all the other organisers for their overwhelming hospitality! To the staff and chef at The Concordia, thank you for the amazing meals, yum, yum, yum!

To all the new friends I made ( I won’t list names so I don’t offend), it was an honor meeting you, and I look forward to hearing marvelous things about you!

I had an amazing time!

Next stop? Russia? Siberia? The Himalayas? I honestly don’t know yet!

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