A friend of mine, the man who introduced me to ulimate frisbee, started the first ever league in Liberia. Years later he would introduce the sport in Trinidad and last I heard he was in Madagascar surely throwing disc with the local population.
Over the weekend I’m sitting down to dinner after the first day of an exhausting tournament here in Amsterdam, and one of the more recent arrivals to our league started talking about his own experience. Having recently moved to the Netherlands from Colorado, he spoke about how confident he was that he wouldn’t feel alone or lacking in things to do since there would surely be ultimate in the Netherlands. Indeed I’ve noticed, just as he said, the fact that in a very short time, he has become a beloved member of the Amsterdam frisbee family.
And that’s the magic that made me want to write today… the global tradition that welcomes you no matter where you are. The social sport that transcends language and culture, giving you that sense of belonging even in a place where maybe you otherwise don’t belong.
Then there’s the typical statement you hear for all team sports… the bringing together of different people from different walks of life.. for a social meetup and sporting competition. Where conflicts are resolved peacefully on the field, and differences are embraced as something to be cherished and shared. Classic explanation of a sport, but as far I’m concerned, the world could use less talk of going to war and preparing to fight allegedly insane and dangerous “enemies” that are – of course – so different from us. If they only designated more parks and fields, and made more funds available for these kinds of activities.. then you’d see real conflict resolution and cross cultural understanding.
But of course, compared to the military business that helps make certain politicians and corporations unfathomably wealthy – encouraging a nonprofit peace enhancing sport is apparently bad business.
After studying, working, and living in the Netherlands for 5, 10 or even 20 years, people are being deported on technicalities and bureaucratic errors. Faced with the choice of fighting or leaving the life they’ve built, many people are finding that there is no fair fight to be had. In this podcast the focus is on the Canadian example, the story of current and former residents. Asking the question, what kind of immigration policies are these?
Thomas here in Amsterdam
Sarah in Toronto
Dutch Immigration Lawyer (anonymous)
I promise this is the last post about celebrations here in Amsterdam. But considering the scale and unavoidable appeal, here’s my official post about Queen’s Day ’07. (cross posted from my sister blog, Trippist.com)
One thing you may not hear about on Queen’s Day is the underlying spirit on the canals. Sure there are lots of drunken people, lots of loud music, tons of crap for sale, and plenty of men peeing in to canals. But what you may not hear about, and what Ive grown to love, is the spirit of sharing amongst boat people.
At some point all my passengers want off, so I pull over and off they go. Suddenly Im boating alone, trapped in the thickest boat traffic possible.. elbow to elbow with all kinds of people partying. And one after another, they all react the same way when they see me and my empty boat. “You’re alone? Why are you alone? You need to pick up people!” And then comes the second phase, “Here, have a beer. Here have this fruit. Here have cheese and cake.” Suddenly I’ve let go of the stick and people around me are pulling the boat along, from all sides, while I eat all this food people hand me.
And that is how it goes all afternoon long. At some point I want to give some love back, and just then – a boat pulls alongside me on the Amstel and asks “Do you have any beer?” I say nothing and hold up a wine bottle, handing it over to them. “Wait” they shout, grabbing my boat to keep me from floating away, “Have some wine with us”, I put the engine in neutral and drink a toast to the Amstel river. We chat for a bit about what canal is good to ride on at this hour, and then I speed away.
You’ll hear plenty of stories about Queen’s Day, and mostly they’ll paint it as one big mess. They’re not wrong. But on the canals, I know a different tradition, and its the real reason I like Queens Day.
Normally I try to provide yee good readers with the occasional story/first hand account of what is happenning in this city of Amsterdam which I so love.
But today, on the eve of the biggest national mess of the year, I was so overbooked that I could not perform my duty as public internet servant. I did not make it to the drag queen olympics ’07. Dammit.
Fortunately we have the internet and Amsterdamers have all sorts of mobile blogging gadgets, even in their skimpy dresses. So full credit to the flickr members who took excellent photos which you can see here.
Myself I hereby vow to be there next year, standing at the finish line of the Stilleto Sprint, or watching them measure distances for the Handbag Throw.
For all the the terrible people who keep trying to change this country and this city, to make it into a bland, conformist, tourist trap. I’m proud and relieved that the Drag Queens are still here and the Olympic Flame burns on. Thank you ladies.