I lived, for thirteen years, in Gouda. Friends who came to visit said, "It's much more beautiful than Amsterdam!" It was in Gouda that I started a blog about being an expat in a small city in the Netherlands. My expat blog was a bit different from new comers because I didn't describe the adventures of being a strange metropolis, say Amsterdam, and, as I had already lived in the Netherlands for nearly ten years, I wasn't telling readers about the culture shock of meeting the Dutch on their turf. Mostly I described the world around me, as a long time inhabitant of the Netherlands. And then I moved, quickly because of a divorce, to Amsterdam. Still, Gouda was a large part of the my life and having moved this blog along with me to Amsterdam, I feel it is fitting to leave a page over of what it was like to live in Gouda. The post below was one that dates from four years ago and strangely enough talks about leaving or staying.
It occurs to me that I might just die in
. Nothing morbid happening
really, just the normal passing of time and my life, after all it happens to
all of us. It could be that I’d first spend a great deal of time in a Dutch
retirement home, fighting off cheese sandwiches and wondering where I misplaced
the sushi delivery flyer, most likely a phantom of my imagination, a sticky
rice fly named Hopeful Dementia. I
suppose at one point this thought that where one has seemingly settled may also
be the last resting place happens to most of us. It’s a shock really, I must
warn you, to think that I could have possibly rendered my person to any place
in the world and I ended up in Gouda .
Although it’s not bad really. I mean I
occasionally see a black plumed funeral coach drawn by two solid black horses
winding its’ way around the traffic lights and I think, right that’s how I want
my corpse to make it’s way to the crematorium. Gouda
But isn’t it exciting to travel and see the world, isn’t it romantic to find love in a foreign land, isn’t it enriching to span cultural bridges?
Songe à la douceur
D'aller là-bas vivre ensemble!
Aimer à loisir,
Aimer et mourir
Au pays qui te ressemble!
Les soleils mouillés
De ces ciels brouillés
Pour mon esprit ont les charmes
De tes traîtres yeux,
Brillant à travers leurs larmes.
Luxe, calme, et volupté. »
This is Baudelaire. “Invitation au voyage”. It sounds like finding utopia. We all look for it. Apparently I, however fatefully, found it in
. Should I waver in my belief there’s always
help: the Jehovah’s Witnesses shoved an invitation to God’s Kingdom through the
letter slot this week pointing out several loosely coordinating facts on
Mussorgsky and a Biblical composition of the great man all stated on a grey and
grimy photocopy from the Watchtower Publishing Co. I suppose it has not escaped
my neighbors’ notice (across the street) that I am a musician. Gouda
There’s more to Beaudelaire’s poem of course, the second stanza is about the riches of the world to be collected, items that speak their own native tongues, which you can enjoy as they stand in your house, on “your” land where ever that may be located. This reminds me one thing I do miss in
is that there are no cheap and good Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, etc. take
away places. One of those “Wok to Go” flash pan hot noodle food counters opened
up briefly before it burned itself down to a black cinder just inside an
alleyway across from the Hema. Gouda
The last stanza of the poem is about canals…..and the possibility to take off someplace else on water with a boat…to that other utopia around the river’s bend. (Beaudelaire's poem is based on Amsterdam.)