It’s been a while! and I do feel guilty.
My excuses?? I’m tired, which is a common phenomenon after an international move; finding new routines and getting used to the new environment is exciting but also exhausting. But that’s not the main reason for not writing my weekly blog.
The moto of the International Feelgood Academy is “enjoying our differences”, well I’m not enjoying all the differences here comparing to my life in Qatar; Regularly I’m flabbergasted about the Dutch, their ways of doing and I feel very irritated.
I can’t think of anything possitive to write about without becoming nagging and complaining. Even if I think I’ve got very good reasons to be irritated and why I think it should be different (at least it would my life a lot more easier).
Because it’s my profession, I know that this is an important aspect of the disintegration stage and it’s necessary to let go of the old habits and routines and become aware and open to new ones.
When I’m in a calm and wise state of mind I can put in perspective and I know I will get there, but the reality of life makes that I’m not always such a calm and wise person. However, this is a stage that will pass and that I’ll get used to it and find routines that will suit me. I’ve done it so many times now.
Emotion wise this stage is not a very comfortable stage, emotions like anger and irritation -and maybe the need to fight them- , do cost so much negative energy.
On the other hand this stage is irreplaceable in personal development; The irritation and the anger you might feel about certain topics and ways how things are being done, do show things you value, things you appreciated -or not-, ways you like -or not-. Things you would never discover when you would stay in the same good old comfortzone.
a very simple example is -in my case- camping. I hate the smell of others poo, the dirty toilets and long hairs in the drain (everybody bold!!), it made me realize how much I don’t like to be confronted with things other people leave behind and interfere with my sense of smell and touch (ever had long hair stuck between your toes??). So I realise why I do prefere a clean environment. That doesn’t mean we won’t be camping anymore, but we will choose a campground with personal sanitary.
I won’t bother you with my irritations and opinions about life in the Netherlands but I’ll keep you posted about the process and the things I’ll learn from it.
Today I was late, got lost, stuck in traffic, food burned and the children got grumpy too, instead of a bit understanding and compassionate. I learned that there is a bridge which opens every hour and rush hour starts at 5 pm, my oven is a hot air oven which is hotter than I expected.
It was one of those days, nothing – even the simplest of things- worked out as planned and expected.
“I want to go home, I want to go back, where life was not so complicate and I got the feeling life run more smooth; Where I knew how to use the oven, where I knew where and how to avoid traffic, where my children were at ease.
I can’t go back – I know-, but still I’m temporarily homesick.
The first half-year after a (international) move seems to be one concatenation of those days in which nothing seems to work like you’re used to, there’s nothing you can do without thinking and every single little core seems to cost a lot of energy. Specially when you’ve got a family to organise and look after! Don’t be surprised if you’re tired a lot and got less energy, it will take about a year.
Not everyone does understand what you’re going through and why you seem to get upset about small things. People who moved (internationally) and know what a culture shock is will recognise this, they know it’s not the big problems but it’s the amount of daily little struggles.
This struggle makes you want to go ‘home’.
In culture shock terms, we call this the disintegration stage. Lost the ‘old’ ways, lost routines and not found new routines yet.
The days you feel completely lost will become less as you get used to the way things are organised and find new routines.
In time I will get used to the oven, in fact it’s much easier when it cooks faster and more constant; I already know that I should avoid that bridge and found some short cuts.
I know I will get used to my new environment and even will appreciate the way things go here. But I’m not there yet.
Oops, Within the first week with my new car I received 2 traffic tickets for driving too fast. Yep, it’s a small and fast car, -the first time not a family car-. It accelerates easy and is very silent so I don’t hear on the motor how fast I drive, which I could tell with my previous cars.
Traffic rules and all rules in general, are pragmatic agreements in behaviour to keep everybody save and comfortable. When everybody knows and follows the rules, situations become very predictable and you can’t make stupid or strange mistakes.
I’m a bit rebellious and it took me almost 50 years to acknowledge that there’s some good in rules.
I even bought a book about the ‘etiquette’, social rules, how to behave in social situations. And believe it or not, even I think it makes sense when you read about the history and the logic behind some of those stupid ‘rules’.
For example; ‘combatting’ the stairs in man/woman situation, a man should be ahead of the lady going up and behind going down so he can’t peek under the skirt. With the steep stairs in the Netherlands and the short skirts girls are wearing, I understand. In countries where women are covered, you won’t find those rules and the rule will rather be that the man goes behind the woman up the stairs and in front going down to help her in case she stumbles over the long clothing. Or When kissing is part of the greeting ritual, you start with the right cheek. (that would avoid painful collisions).
In traffic situations I do believe some rules are good and do make sense; don’t drink and drive or speed limits within urbanborders. I even think sometimes 50km/h is too fast, when you consider how many un-overseen situations with children, animals and bikes can happen. I really think there should be more control in these situations.
But no, there are automatic speed camera’s, who don’t consider the situation but only the procedure; when I drive during the holiday season at night 116km instead of 100km.
This has nothing to do anymore with the benefit of rules, to keep people save. It’s only about follow rules and procedures and making money.
I will get used to that just like I got used to the unpredictable driving with the multicultural driving styles in Qatar, but I’m afraid I will find it hard to accept that I have to follow procedures in case the rules don’t make sense.
Some of you might know that I’m an visual artist besides my work for the International Feelgood Academy.
I like too share a problem with you. I have made an art work called ‘defending traditions Qatar’, in contradiction I want to make an artwork ‘obstructive traditions Qatar’, as I was/am convinced that traditions are obstructing and restricting.
But I’m stuck. very STUCK.
What are traditions obstructing? Growth? Development? I can’t find any visual prove of that.
A tradition is retaining to a habit, custom a ritual thats being past on from generation to generation. Traditions are important for a cultural/national unity, as it’s rituals/rules are known to people it’s helps to identify with a group. It maintains a social stability.
Because traditions are been passed from generation to generation it seems very conservative and conservatism is obstructing growth and progress. But as generations change also the customs and rituals change and renew constantly.
It’s the compulsion of confirming to group-behaviour that’s been associated with traditions that obstructs personal freedom and individuality. That is something different then supposing that traditions are obstructing growth and development.
Here comes another thought, out written.
Traditions confirm a social identity, confirm a group/society, who are holding on to certain ways, certain customs. People belong to that group or don’t.
Not everybody feels connected or is included in certain traditions and related groups. The stronger people hold on to certain traditions the more they obstruct new input/ possibilities of change/of growth that comes with other people. They’re telling that when you don’t join in, you’re left out, you’re rejected. And that’s exactly what I’m trying to visualise!
So, “wham bham thank you mem” I’ve got the solution for my art work. It’s not going to be called, obstructive traditions but, rejecting traditions
I hope you were able to follow my thoughts.
Writting all the mixed up thoughts and trying to make sense really helped me. Please enjoy the artwork and I will share ‘rejecting traditions as soon as it’s finished.
Yesterday we were on the souq. (The souq is a traditional version of a shopping mall or a market hall.)
In ‘our’ souq we’ve got a ‘pet’ section.
“And oh my heart broke”. The way these poor birds and animals are being treated; In the heat, in to small cages, animals which aren’t pets or are becoming extinct.
I would love to buy them all and give them a better live.
Now my children are already so wise that they know that we can’t take them to Europe as they’re forbidden, that the birds would die here anyway in the heat and that the merchants would acquire replacement immediately, no matter from where.
They’re soooooo wise and responsible and won’t have the good feeling of having saved that one big turtle and let it roam in our garden.
It’s interesting to see how people react differently on that animal souq;
A good friend of mine avoids the animal souq. Another goes on the barricades. Tourists come and amaze themselves and taking pictures. Locals buy there their chickens and other show birds, boys get a pet to teach them responsibilities.
The guys who sell the animals (which are not the merchants!!) have no clue how cruel it is for those pets in the perspective of us westerners, who won’t see animal tragedies in daily live anymore. In case they have some idea, it’s from western television from the petambulance series or pictures of animal abuse in the media, which are not great either.
Then you have the merchants who buy and sell the animals….. I would tend to judge them, but then again they’re only trying to keep up their responsibilities to their wive(s) and the rest of the family, which in most cases is not easy either as there is no social security at all.
I like that animal souq, not because of the animals -I’m to much of a softy- for that. But because all the mixed feelings that it triggers in me, it makes me aware of my own values/thoughts/ convictions/believes, which learns me to see things through in a different perspective. I don’t have to agree but at least I can understand and accept that the world is not always the way I would have liked it and that doesn’t mean that it’s bad. It’s a way of learning to enjoy our differences.
Let me picture a situation;
Me, a white Dutch woman and my dog in a islamic desert country.
In Holland most people don’t have big gardens or yards where we can keep our dogs. So most dogs are inside the house and part of the family.
For the usuall toilet needs, we take the dog outside, into public area’s. Again, there is no space for gardens and yards. Besides Dutch people grow up with the idea that you don’t befoul ‘your nest’. Most ‘good’ dog owners will not allow the dog to do his needs on places where people tend to walk/play or sit and pick up the poo and throw it away in special bags, so it won’t bother not-dog-owners. The rain will flush away the rest.
Now in Qatar. I learned most people consider dogs as dirty and scary, maybe some consider the dog as a friend, but certainly not as a family member.
The stares Dibbles and I get, when I walk him outside on an empty plot of land where he can run free, are very uncomfortable.
It took me a while before I figured out that it’s absolute uncommon for a woman to walk outside alone and then there was the dog! They could not picture him worth to take risks of, yes of what?? I avoid crowded and public spaces anyway, as dogs are nowhere allowed.
And then I saw a guy how he put out his shoes and wriggled his feet in pure enjoyment in that little piece of free grass where Dibbles just…….. well you get the picture. It opened up something in my mind, why do I let my dog do his toilet in public places? I could see the good part of why people keep their dogs in gardens or yards and not train them to do their needs outside.
Yet I’m convinced it’s better for dog and boss to have a walk for at least half an hour everyday. A dog needs physical exercise even more then us humans as they don’t have to work at all anymore to get their food. But I also know not everybody has got the space to keep the dog in the yard.
So there’s the dilemma;
Cultural sensitive as I am, I see and understand why people, who don’t own a dog, don’t like dogs in public/open areas, even if they clean up. On the other hand I also know how beautiful it is to share the friendship and love with a dog. I treasure my walks outside everyday and taking him everywhere I go (In Holland that is and my dog is well trained) He makes me feel save and is my ambassador to other people.
If I would act cultural sensitive I would stop my walks and train Dibbles to do his toilet in a catbin(??), or something like that.
Someway that would be stupid as Dibbles and I would both suffer from not enough exercise and outdoor experience and won’t become a happier and open minded person, as I would hate the whingers who made me imprisson my dog.
So we must think of a cultural smart/intelligent way in which we consider other people as my -wigly toe grass man- but also my needs.
That’s what Cultural Intelligence is about; not just about management, team work and politics, but also about all the small things in life, about living together.
Last week the Dutch (people from the Netherlands) elected their parlement.
Being Dutch, I hardly dared to look at the outcome the next day. I was so afraid for the shock in case one of the right winged parties would have won; Like the shock of Brexit, like the shock of Trump. The shock that so many people are that narrow-minded that they think ugly shouting men are the solutions to their frustrations; That they don’t have faith in democracy anymore.
The ultra right winged parties didn’t win, that was a relief but still they gained!
I’m thaught to live through my fears so I started to explore and try to understand the people who make such choices and I start to understand why.
I do understand it’s frustrating;
When your child needs extra support in school and there is no money for extra support for your child but there is for immigrant children;
When you can’t get a decent, cheap place to live and refuge families get houses,
When you don’t believe in the idea of a united and solidair Europe.
I do understand as well that the people who are in charge have to keep an eye on the big picture;
That children who can speak, read and learn in the local language can become useful citizen (i.e. tax paying citizen) and that kids in school don’t cause too much trouble to society;
That immigrants/refugees have to live somewhere too, they don’t have another choice then live in cheap houses;
That the more immigrants mix into Dutch society the more chance of integration, besides autochtone people are able to pay a bit more for housing than immigrants do;
That it’s good for the Dutch economy, who’s depending on trade to have free boundaries in Europe.
I got it.
What I do not understand is that apparently it is too hard to listen to what people are trying to say and take their concerns seriously or make the effort to explain in a language that a majority of people understand to explain why the decisions are been taking that way.
If you can’t explain decisions in a normal understandable way how should people trust you?
Politics in western societies seem to be stuck in procedures rather than solutions for the problems the people are facing.
I call that intellectual arrogance and I hope, I really, really hope that western leaders have had their wake up call.
The world is much more complicated and changing so fast, it’s asking for fast solutions as well.
A problem asks for a solution not a procedure which is probably out dated by the time it’s finally implemented!