Category Archives: ramblings



Yokyajarta is a renowned Indonesian city. A popular destination for tourists. One that is inhabited by  hospitable people. It’s a centre of tradition and modern science. Of open mindedness and religion. Where a guy I met, a Muslim, drank a cordial beer or two with me, a non believer, on our brand new friendship ( well, only if we call “Bintang”  genuine beer. Which is open to discussion…).

I hold the city in high esteem.

But  a student, Florence Sihombing, at the famous local university experienced some cracks in the paradise-like surface of Yokyakarta. Or just thought so. And wrote a tough critical review about it on social media. Yokyakarta according to her rant was inhabited by “poor, idiotic and uncivilized”  people. And she wanted it to be known by everyone.

Well, those addressed were not amused. They cried ‘slander’ or similar words. And Florence  got arrested. She apologized and promised not to do that again. But she stayed in custody. Her case became a hype on internet though. And her Alma Mater ran to her rescue. She was set free, but definitely is not off the hook. After saying sorry publicly, governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono X asked his subjects to forgive the perpetrator. In spite of that for her the scandal is not over yet.

That is a pretty drastic reaction after some angry words by a ( probably slightly spoiled) young lady.

Overreaction actually. Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, is a universal human right after all. 

However apparently it’s content and limits are different in different places.

Florence had back luck living at a spot on the globe where the definition of slander ( and I guess libel, religious offense, pornography, obscenity etc also) is much less restricted than elsewhere. If, for instance, I would like to state that my small town’s citizens on average are, lets say, dull, behind the times, egoistic and materialistic followers of capitalistic consumerism, I could do so without the risk of being arrested.


Hey, by the way, this is an opportunity for me to vent some personal anger.

So, for the sake of solidarity with Florence and because of the urge I feel to at long last frankly speak my mind on my home town Zeist, I repeat that it’s


behind the times,



and crowded with petty capitalist consumers.

So much for Romantic Love?


“When a love relation comes to an end it shows that a lot of emotional bookkeeping had been taking place all the time while it lasted: ‘what did I receive in return for what I gave?’ “.

It’s a quote from last night’s ( 29.08.2014)  interview with Esma Linneman on Dutch public radio.  Subject was her autobiographic novel “Muze” (‘Muse, a love story in b-minor’) about an ‘unconditional love’ affair which collapsed.

I wonder is her observation gender-neutral or specifically feminine?

The other woman


At 60 I fell in love with another woman. She was not even forty when I met her.

I told my wife.  She was broad minded as she usually is and didn’t raise objections to my new relation. On the contrary, she was happy for my renewed passion.  So we decided to pay a visit to  Brigitte’s  home in Neubrandenburg, Germany,  together.

Brigitte Reimann was a famous author in the Deutsche Demokratische Republik.  Almost forgotten though towards the end of the century.

After the “West had won the cold war” and  the Berlin wall had come tumbling down, the achievements of artists who had their career behind the Iron Curtain and had not been oppositional,  generally were in low esteem. And actually Brigitte Reimann had been one of  those novelists who had had high hopes and socialist ideals in her country.

Now of course Babes, my wife, had few reasons to be jealous. After all this particular DDR writer had died at the start of the seventies.  And my sudden infatuation was a direct result of the hype the unexpected publication of her diaries caused in literary Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

Her life – on a modest scale- was heroic.  In spite of her obvious literary success, tragic also. Because of her genuine ideals fading by and by, her sloppy love life  and her anxieties while loosing her battle against breast cancer. Yet she didn’t give in, kept on writing and publishing and always stood out as an intelligent, independent woman.

Perhaps – though her “Ankunft im Alltag” is social realism at it’s best -  she is not the most prominent female author of novels the DDR has produced. But her diaries definitely belong to the top. I even think they are the best since ’45. I’m taking all continents in consideration.

I bought part 1,  “Ich bedaure nichts” ( I regret nothing),  and got carried way.  Next I bought part 2,  “Alles Schmeckt nach Abscheid” ( The taste of goodbye is everywhere), and got moved to tears. Then I bought all of her oeuvre I could buy which was a lot actually.  After the commercial success of her diaries publishers were eager to publish whatever they could in connection with this lady.  And I still wasn’t satisfied.  Hence the visit to Neubrandenburg.

Well, that’s what happens when a man falls head over heels in love with a woman, okay?

This was a voice from the past. A lucid and independent voice, an upright voice also. One that told what made young German idealists in the Eastern part of the country  tick immediately after WWII and two decades on.  Not blinded by ideology but driven by cool idealism, subtle but clear language, touching sentiments but without sentimentality,  realistic but in no way playing victim.

She took me along to make me understand what it meant to be hot-blooded in DDR’s prudish society, to be literary talented but stay in line with officialdom, to dedicate time to manual labour for idealistic reasons in stead of writing and ultimately be a dead woman walking after cancer had been diagnosed without complaining.

She died at the age of 39.  An aborted talent.  An unfinished life. But still the author of two of my most favourite books ever.

Save Our Souls



It occurs twice, three times a year. You can count on it. You can count on them.

My wife is shrewd. She pretends not to see them, or not hear them or to be too busy when the problem occurs. So it’s always me who has to answer the door.

It had been some time since their last visit, but yes I knew they would return. They always return. Relentlessly.  So there they were again last Thursday.

No, it’s not that bad.  It’s just a major nuisance.

People standing on your doorstep, ringing the bell and asking if you’re interested to have your soul saved from eternal doom. And actually.. I’m not.

They usually are persistent. It’s hard to get rid of them.

They always come in pairs.  American evangelicals sometimes,  but most of the time Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Usually a middle aged lady and a middle aged male.

Sometimes two middle aged women. That’s worse, because it’s tough to be sufficiently rude to ladies. A method which I reluctantly resort to. Every now and then.

But worst of all are the villains who come with a small child in tow. You have to be polite and even charming, because of that little boy or girl. Especially if it’s a girl. That condition immediately reminds of the female British novelist who, as a young girl, experienced herself the embarrassments of being in tow of fanatically proselyting Pentecostal parents  – and heartbreakingly wrote about it *.

Yet, in the light of recent events the relatively innocent encroachments upon the ‘my home is my castle’ privilege, were mere blessings in disguise. Pretty peaceful basic trainings for what will follow. What the future has in store for us.  That future where words, even abusive words, arguments, angry facial expressions and threatening body language words won’t do any more to get rid of the unwelcome missionaries.

Today I visualize a future in which bearded, funnily dressed, heavily armed young men call upon me and offer me a choice to convert on the spot, pay up considerable amounts of money or being staged for a summary execution. No words or body language will chase them away.

So let it be known to those who are on a mission from God, I will prepare.

There will be a quote by John Cale on my door **.  And I will have my Kalashnikov ready.


*  Jeanette Winterson; Oranges are not the only fruit.

> John Cale,  quote from Hanky Panky Nohow,  Album `Paris 1919′:

“Nothing frightens me more
Than religion at my door”

Wednesday, the 9th of July 2014

All of the Van den Brink family hopes to cheer and celebrate victories tomorrow. An essential one in Jakarta* and and the most important side matter in Sao Paulo. That is Jokowi’s win over Prabowo in Indonesia and the Dutch football squad’s win over Argentina in Brazil.

Last Saturday night my daughter in law Feby, my granddaughter Devica Esha and son Gunnar rehearsed for the events dressed in genuine Dutch colours already. Actually a pretty picture and a successful try out in my opinion:

Trio voor Oranje 5 juli 14.

To make the wished for outcome come true, voters in Indonesia and the referee in Sao Paulo have to make the right decisions. I trust our massive mental family support will help them doing just that ;-).

In the meantime I anxiously keep my fingers crossed.

* The advantage of this presidential campaign is that this time it’s a clear choice between the past and the future. One between a man who belongs to the Suharto era and is member of the old system and the old guys’ network on the one hand and the future, the new man on the block with good record, clean sheets and coming in from the outside, on the other. The problem is that bad boys ( be it Wilders, Bush or Prabowo) tend to have ( ample means, on the surface simple underbelly solutions and) a dark appeal to many voters. Therefore I sincerely hope – and trust – the people will make the most sensible choice for good governance and democracy, Jokowi (Though alas, Kalla, the man who in “The Act of Killing” is being exposed as supporter of a fascist youth organization, will be part of the package).

Well, till now, ever since Reformasi most of the time the Indonesian people made sensible political choices. So why not this time.