Sunday, May 27, 2007

English for Business Purposes, Advanced Level

You think you understand English pretty well? Forget it! The language is way more subtle than you think. The British are so dexterous in hiding their true meaning that the foreigner is bound to be led astray.
Here is a guide to help you in your dealings with this strangest of peoples!


All dogs are called Max. Have you noticed? Truly, all dogs are.
So when we got our new dog from the animal shelter his name was . . . . Right, his name was Max.
The first thing we did was rename him, and now he has been Tazi, or Swiepo for a long time. These names have their problems too, but at least they are not common.
A few years after we got him, Tazi ran away in the woods near our house. I crisscrossed it various times: no dog. I went home, went back to the woods and called his name: “Tazi!!!” and went home again.
Then I got a phone call from a vet nearby. The dog had been crossing a road and had been hit by a car. So they had brought him to the vet’s practice. Not much wrong with him, could I come and pick him up.
The vet asked for his identity papers. From his tag he did not know what his name was. So he had just tried a few on the dog.
“Buster,” he had called, “Rocky, Max!”
Bingo! Tazi had looked up expectantly.
See? All dogs are called Max. Even our own.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Den Haag aan de Taag

Half tien in de lobby
Wat gaan we doen?
De tram
knarst rinkelend om de bocht.
Thé wijst uit het raam,
Terwijl E leunt op zijn stok.
Waar gaat het heen?

Voor de bocht
is er de weg zonder enige bocht,

volgens Pessoa.
“Ik neem de bacalhau,”
zegt Jan op het terras.
De wind kolkt
de rode wijn
in de glazen.
“Wat is het ergste
dat gebeuren kan?”
vraagt San.

Fado’s in een café.
“Ik ga niet mee,”
zegt Mauke, denkend
aan brede armen
gehaakt in elkaar.
Rob lacht naar
de dames in
zwarte gewaden.

Vasco da Gama
Ging van Berlijn
om de Afrikaanse bocht.
Die weg was voor hem de weg.
Wij houden het bij bica
uit kleine kopjes.

Voor Brasileira zit Pessoa
en staart naar de tram in de bocht.
Hier eindigt niet
de tocht naar Lisboa.
De Taag stroomt
langs de kromming
van Haagse herinnering.

Monday, May 07, 2007


The traditional way to cook spinach is to dump the washed spinach in a cook pot bit by bit, and let it shrink over high heat. When done, it was chopped to pulp with an axe and served with a creamy sauce.

I prefer to stir fry a chopped onion in olive oil, and when soft and translucent to add the (chopped) spinach bit by bit and stir until done. Adding crème fraîche is optional.

Delicious with new potatoes, served with a knob of butter, and a hard boiled egg.

Friday, May 04, 2007

The Rain

They’ve taken away the rain.
Where is it?

Not in the diminishing ponds,
reflecting the blue sky.

Not in the clouds.
For they, too, have disappeared.

Where is the rain?
What have we done?

We’ve driven our vanity.
We’ve dressed ourselves in pride.
We’ve travelled to faraway lands,
where life was simple.

But we have learnt nothing.

So now they’ve taken away the rain.

And yet we are blinded
by the dazzling sun.