Hot pants and the golden girls

I am cycling through the shopping street as I head back home after a meeting. The big posters with “last days of sale” on shop windows make me slow down. I look at my watch, I still have a small half an hour before my daughter returns from school. I quickly enter a shop I like, I scan through the last pieces of sale but there was nothing left for me.

As I want to get on my bike again I see that H&M still has lots of sale items. Well, why not, I nod, entering the shop. There are not many people inside, it’s quiet. I look at a few nice blouses, a skirt, but nothing really that suits me. For the sake of trying something on I take an oversized sweater and look at in in the mirror. It doesn’t look bad. Do I really need an oversized sweater? No, actually. But still I take off my scarf and my jacket and in front of the mirror I pull the sweater over my head and look at it. Meh.

A few steps from where I stand two golden girls walk around chatting loudly: “Look dear” says one, “these are really sexy”. And the other ones replies “oh, yes, they are sexy. They are hot”. There is nothing wrong with my hearing, is it? And I turn around and look at them.  I see it right, two old ladies, all grey hair and grandma candor over their faces. They must be in their 70’s. I peak at the sexy clothes they are discussing and I see a rack full of shorts. What on earth to do with a rack full of shorts in wintertime, I wonder. But I can’t help smiling a bit, and I am also puzzled by those ladies.

The ladies look at me and continue “they are nice, sexy, hot pants, don’t you think?” they ask pointing to some white lacey pants with pearls on. In a reflex I smile and respond amused,  ” yes, they are”, and I turn around giggling inside and looking at my sweater again.

“You should try them on!” they giggled. I freeze. Are they really talking to me? I try to ignore it but they continue. “You should enjoy it as muck as you can, honey, you can still wear it, you know”?

Are they freaking kidding me? Did they just suggest to me to wear shorts? Me? I mean, I don’t have at all a negative body image, but hot pants? I am not 18! I am not skinny! I am sure they are not even in my size. I am lost for words. I turn to look at them again, they are giggle-ish and smiling. My mind’s working hard. I start calculating. They are in their 70’s, so they must be old hippies, flower power, free spirit, free love. Yep that must be it. And I give them a wink and half of a timid smile as I still don’t know who to react.

“Oh dear”, the chatter further as they start walking away, “anything but this biiiig sweater. You are still young, beautiful, so dress to impress. Don’t hide in sweaters. Show yourself. Flaunt it! Otherwise you will regret it later”.

I try to say something back like ” but I do, I will”, but they are gone. I take down the sweater and hang it back. I wasn’t going to buy it anyhow. I cycle back home and very amused I laugh about what just happened.

But home again I go straight to my closet. I take a good look, luckily I decluttered recently and gave away lot of clothing. I take a good look and decide: this years shopping is going to be about dressing to impress. I am going to flaunt it, baby 🙂


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21 years later, back to my first love

It was as if my body remembered. Every little muscle reacted, every little movement was a call to be more alive. I felt the rush, the joy, the unbelievable charm and grace warming up my body. I felt like the little girl that I used to be. I stared at the wooden floor at first,  not knowing if I was foolish of just happy.  And then I embraced it all.  As in a dream, but real.

Ok, there are mirrors everywhere and I could not pretend to be anything else then a hippo. I felt like a hippo, big and heavy and stiff. No swan what so ever. Except for when every feeling and movement started to come back, I started to believe again that I will be a swan soon. Or at least a goose. It will be a hell of a job to get a little bit more in shape, but I am over the moon.

I am over the moon that I’ve started ballet again. The last class I took was about 21 years ago. I mean…what….21?! I had to check it twice, doubting my math skills. But yeah, it has been that long ago. And ballet is still my first love. Happy to be in love again!






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Craiova, revisited

A few weeks ago, I visited Craiova for the first time in 6 years. The last time I was there, my daughter was just as tall as my hips, I finally saw my best friend from primary school that I haven’t seen in 19 years and my granny was on her dying bed.

She didn’t recognize me, my granny. She thought I was my mother, spoke to me lovingly, reassuring me she always knew I was so nice. Ironically, they hated their guts, my mum and her mother-in-law. But then again, my granny thought she was 9, and she was waiting for her parents to come and pick her up and bring her to guitar lessons. Walking the streets of the city of Bălți. The disarming devastation of Alzheimer. Her hallow eyes and grey cheeks. Death was so near. My daughter could feel it, I saw it in her mimic and the distance she kept. She held the future, my granny was almost gone.

A few days after we left she died. I didn’t feel the need to go back. My childhood friend and I had no magic to share anymore. And my other friends all lived in Bucharest now. Craiova became the stranger I called friend almost 20 years ago back then, and we only shared sweet memories of distant past.  But then it came knocking at my door last April, in the form of an exchange student who stayed with us for two month. Alexandra lives and studies in Craiova, and her stories made me feel that vibe again. She was enthusiastic about all the renovation works, the festivals, the terraces. So this summer, while on our holiday in Romania, we went just for one day to visit her, and the city.

It was bloody hot. And I mean, boiling. You couldn’t walk the streets without fainting, and as we arrived we stopped for a few hours at the first swimming pool entering the city. The sticky sweat and so familiar accent everyone around me was talking threw me back in time. When I was my daughter’s age now, spending almost my entire summer break at the swimming pool with my friends, just going home to hide from the heat, read something and then hit the streets again to play with the same friends. Gosh, that was such a different era. The communistic scarceness, the imposed water shortage that kept the pool water to long unfiltered that usually turned green, hardly any use of sunscreen. And the fun we had though and didn’t get sick, the summer that never seemed to end and in the last weeks I couldn’t wait to start school again. And now I looked at all the kids playing, talking, laughing. The same fun, but in crystal clear water. I looked at my daughter playing in the pool with her dad. This was her reality of summer in Craiova.

As we later entered the city center, after so many years I didn’t, I couldn’t help recalling the first time I visited Craiova after I left for The Netherlands. It was 1997 and back for the first time in Romania since 1990. It was another me visiting, it was another city I found. I was 20, completely evolved form the skinny 13-year-old, all Dutch-ed up and talking with a funny accent my friends would laugh about. Reconnecting. Searching. My grandparents would look at me in disbelief that was me, still talking to me like I was 12. Me looking around ecstatically, finding pieces of my identity.

But I remember I cried. After the first few days of talking, remembering, hugging and laughing,  I remember clinging onto my boyfriend’s neck and crying my eyes out. I cried because in the city I didn’t find the romantic picture I painted in my mind all these years. Romania was struggling  in the 90’s with breaking from the past, tearing all the walls down and trying to build it all up. And it was a mess. Literally it was. After the perfectly manicured surroundings I grew up in Holland, the devastation after the communistic fall was horrible to see. The old buildings were ruinous, the streets broken,  the communistic flats depressing. “Mercur”, the old shopping mall in the center, was more of a messy market place. And they didn’t even bother to take down the Christmas decoration, in September they were still half hanging from the ceilings. The people were moody, the streets were dirty, the services were bad, the mindset was down. I cried, just to process all those emotions. It was a mixed of seeing loved ones and seeing the decay of the city.

And now, entering Craiova, I had a little deja-vu. Gosh, it was still a mess. They are working on the mail street as you enter the city from Bucharest, and we had to maneuver around the wholes in the pavement and the building machines. But this mess was a good one. They are working, they are active, they rebuild and renovate. Some argue that this and that is bad taste. Maybe it is. Maybe here and there it is too much. But who cares, when there are so many nice things to look at. Old, historical building renovated, parks rearranged, flowers everywhere, the old city center almost completely redone and car free. Terraces and pubs and restaurants and people wandering around, enjoying the fresh air of the evening….

Together with Alexandra we visited a few places. The English park in the center, where I would cycle round and round on my bicycle while my other grandmother would sit on a bench and chat. And where years later we celebrated wintertime with one of my best friends Alina, while our kids were holding hands and ran around. An old church that was completely renovated and looked stunning in the sunset. The museum of arts where we could almost touch the Brancusi sculptures and where I saw myself walking around in my school uniform when I was as tall as my daughter. Alexandra managed to get us in a building that was already closed, the “University house”,  mainly used for weddings and receptions, but where I could marvel at the amazing beautiful old-fashioned fireplaces, and so many of them. We had dinner on a nice terrace where the service was good and the food delicious. And then later on we strolled around in the newly rebuild old city center. Where the southern liveliness kept everyone out and about enjoying the cooler summer evening.

There is still lots to be done, believe me. But it is getting done. Slowly but surely. I love the vibe, the youth, the new perspective. I am sick and tired of all the people who keep staring of all the wholes that are not yet fixed and all the things that are still wrong over there. Of course they still are. It takes time. And a change of mindset and mentality. 25 years after the “revolution” and  a new vibe is almost palpable. I love witnessing it. Not only in Craiova. But hey, even in Craiova. I am secretly planning on going back just by myself, on a less hot day. And walk the walks I used to walk. And visit some graveyards….











P.S. “Mercur” was closed for renovation. It’s as old an I am, it was about time…

P.P.S. There was of course a big downside. On the place where our house used to be before they knocked it down, after years of just an empty plot of land in the middle of the city, now a hideous very modern all glass building has risen. Surrounded by old architecture. Very odd. Well….some taste ….

P.P.P.S. It was really too hot to even take pictures. So I didn’t have many to choose from. But take a look here:













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Crossing thought Bucharest

Today I was in Bucharest. Our car has broken down so we had no car anyhow, but actually it is much better to use a cab in the city then your own. Firstly, the cab driver knows the way much better then I ever will, secondly you reduce to 0 the chance of getting your car scratched, thirdly…it is much better for your mental and emotional health. 

So we got into a cab. The driver was this rather short, rather too heavy guy. He didn’t look happy. He didn’t say much. We were relieved when he turned on the radio. The radio station was one with good music (of course, our taste) and he immediately asked if we liked it. We were glad to say yes. 

And then as he started manoeuvring the car into Bucharest traffic, while I was sitting in the back with my daughter, we both couldn’t take our eyes off his…well….what was it…his little altar?! His whole dashboard was full with little icons, crosses, pictures of saints or popular priests. It was impressive I must say. Kitch, but impressive. 

But what was more impressive is that the guy made three times a cross every time we passed a church. Now is this according to good old orthodox Christian belief that you should cross yourself when you pass a church. But the funny thing was l that we were going through some area where there were many, many churches. Some of them I couldn’t even see at first, hidden behind old communist buildings. But the driver was to over consumed with making crossings, even if he needed his hand to use the gear, or turn the steering wheel, that I could not miss the churches anymore. And I could not start feeling very amused by this funny-ridiculous car ride through Bucharest. 

After I while I dropped my husband an daughter to the swimming pool and I continued my ride to another place. I was still fascinating with all the cross-making that was going on. I asked him to pull over to buy some pretsels. And then he told me he hasn’t been eating any bread what so ever in 3 month. I looked rather puzzled looking at his posture. And then he confessed he’s on a diet and has lost already 15 kg. Ditching sugar and carbs helpt, he said, but also praying a lot and going to church too, he confessed. 

I guess I am not going to try this diet. 


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Ramandan time

I was sitting in a busy café, crowded with mostly tourists, reading a magazine while waiting for someone. The table in front of me empties and a minute later an older man sits down. With a friendly face he orders a cappuccino. He’s wearing what I think it is a djaballah. He smiles, I smile back.
As I continue to read my magazine he gets his coffee, drinks it and stands up to leave. He greats me nicely and wishes me a good day. I do too. And I continue reading.

Just minutes away the table is again welcoming an older Muslim man. Not a friendly face this time, so we don’t great. I begin smiling at the coincidence. And I wave away a judgemental idea of them in this touristic café. I was there too. right. This guy orders a hot chocolate. I raise my eyebrow…a hot chocolate on this warm and sunny day?

And as he finished his hot chocolate rather fast and leaves the café, I smile even more. It’s Ramandan time….right 😉


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(no) TV nights

Yesterday evening I was very tired. Tired and feeling like not being able to think or do anything at all. So I switched on the TV and looked up for something to see. There was absolutely nothing interesting. Out of boredom I watched a (bad) film, and later on NCIS, and I just kept on watching and wondering why I am doing that.

In the past weeks I have been too busy to watch any TV. A few times I sat next to my daughter as she wanted me to see something together with her. I actually liked that, to see what she likes, and what her (pre-)teen series are all about. But except a documentary and a program that I have kept to rerun, I watched no TV. I did not even miss it.

I am not saying that I am banning the TV from our lives. There are still good films and programs when you feel like it. But there is so much more to at night… Now I am working (an procrastinating by writing this blog) and listening to my daughter practicing the piano!

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Eurovision and the 10 year old


This morning my 10 year old was very excited: “Mum, Eurovision was really great. Did you see any? Who won?”

“I didn’t see it, honey. But…Nobody won yet, only a few countries went on to the final on Saturday” I said. “The Netherlands is out, but Romania and Belgium are through”.

“Oh, too bad for Trijntje, but oh yes, Belgium has a very nice song. And Romania too. ” And she is showing me the songs on youtube. “The little boy was there on the stage, the song is about children left without parents, which is really sad. And that makes it beautiful though”, she comments on the Romanian song.

“And Russia has a beautiful song too, really nice. Can I now also be for Russia too? Because the song is really beautiful, and then I have again 3 countries to hope for.

Right…let’s exchange The Netherlands for Mother Russia. Why not 😉



P.S. Oh yes. Two out of “her” three countries . Aren’t we just rich to have to many …. hahaha… we just adopted Russia too!


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