Four is a pretty good number if you think of young-uns at that age. At four, they are ‘mature’ little people, who have crossed over from the terrible two’s and three’s; a time when you think your kid had transformed into a character out of a nightmarish horror movie, a milder version of chucky; where the mood swings are incomprehensible, the tantrums come and go like swinging pendulums and the demands are outlandish. Like who sits on snow in the thick of winter, and refuses to budge an inch?
My big little one pulled some stunts then, that made me feel she was cuckoo, but she wasn’t…she was just two.
Four meant she was able to be responsible in her own little way; whether it meant picking out what she wanted to wear for the day, or helping to take dirty dishes to the kitchen.
In the blogosphere can the same be said when the blog hits another milestone? Takes another trip around the sun? Let’s find out.
1) The most loved post
Some folks approached the post with a vicious rebuttal, “That’s not how dutch are!” in a tone that suggested I had taken a nationwide survey of every living breathing dutch guy but came short in my findings and conclusions. Y’all need to take a chill pill. I wrote the post out of my own personal experiences with dutchies, and four years later, I’d still say dutch guys are totally cool. Exceptions? Ja wel! If you are a dutch guy into paedophilia, perversion and abuse of minors makes you criminal, not cool.. if you are a racist dutch guy...you are deluded, ignorant..and definitely not cool. If you are a violent guy who abuses or batters his wife, you have control issues and that is not cool.
A few readers arrived at the post with questions, quips and discussions about the dutch guys in their lives, like I was an aunty PollyAnna (Remember those letters..Dear agony aunt..) who morfed into this counsellor with superhuman abilities to predict with accuracy whether their relationship would go right, and whether he would pop the question, and to figure ways into goading him to turn the way they wanted. I wrote this post in a ‘tongue-in-the-cheek’ friendly banter fashion, so by and large at the end of the day, you the reader have to make informed decisions, with the full awareness that your choice will obviously impact your personal life in a big way.
It’s raining dutch guys. Boat parties, King’s Day, Amsterdam 2015.
Little Miss Ashley tries out clog shoes at Lisse, Keukenhof gardens.
2) The least loved post
; 7 destinations you should consider celebrating Christmas.
I thought Christmas is a huge deal worldwide, but surprisingly, the post has gathered quite abit of dust and cobwebs since I penned it two years ago…sigh. Not even the fact that it was a ‘in list format’ could redeem it. In the blogosphere, listicles get eyeballs as many folks have a short-attention span and would prefer to skim over articles written in point-by-point rather than lengthy boring prose. If you’d love to give the post more love or are just planning for Christmas and want to scope out a destination, it would be worthwhile taking a peek.
3) The Zany-est comment
: When someone asked on my Bijlmer post
where he could get weed….aahh
. In any matters to do with weed or marijuana or any of the drugs sold in ‘coffee shops,’ I’m pretty clueless. The first time I stepped in a coffee shop was four years ago, and it was just because the shop doubled as a restaurant and I went in to buy a soft drink. The patrons shooed me out in panic as I had my little one with me, and children are not allowed in these places. A Swede guy who visited two years back thought I was ‘squandering my opportunities’ by living in the Netherlands and never having tried a drug. He waxed lyrical about the ‘benefits of psychedelic’ drugs as his girlfriend roasted ‘magic mushrooms’ in the oven. As I write this, I really don’t have the addresses of these shops if they exist in Bijmer. I happily choose to be a travel blogger who is knowledgeable about some things but not others.
4) My hardest post
; There are those times, one has to reach deep into their soul to express themselves. When I lost my mum, or rather when she was gained into eternity; it was a shell-shocking moment. We were so busy trying to make her strong enough to begin chemotherapy and just like that, she exhaled and stepped off the face of the earth
. As we somberly rode with her to the mortuary, I remember wondering how the sun dared shine so brightly yet mum was no longer here to bask in it’s rays; somehow metaphorically, we knew in the busy-ness of the days that followed, that mum would have wanted us to go on.
God has been faithful, He has borne us as on eagles wings, He has immensely comforted us when we thought we would break down and be engulfed by the weight of grief and sorrow. Our families, both extended and nuclear have bonded closer; and just like in a game of chess, when the queen is gone, everyone else has moved in place to take their positions in continuing much of the work mum had begun. In the fourth month after mum left us, I am slowly coming to terms with her absence. Some days are better than others. I go to the bed with her on my mind, I awaken and she is still on my mind. She is so very far, so unreachable and at the same time so very near. Most times I have this fleeting thought that everything is alright, that she is rooting for us, up there in heaven. After so many phone conversations with relations, as if browsing for a suitable replacement where there’s none; this time when I miss mum, I simply go into my memory bank, I recall our lengthy conversations, the times she said something humourous, I play them over and over in my head and settle on her most common phrase. “It is well.”
5) Favourite countries: I have sometimes been asked which countries have been my favourite. I always respond that this is akin to asking a mother of many children which is her favourite child. A parent may favour one child above the rest, but will be reluctant to voice it; likely those who are happy campers, those who had normal quick births and not horrendously lengthy labours and breech position babies; those to put it simply who don’t act in ways that make moms and dads feel like crawling up walls in despair.
There have been varied experiences, but none has mirrored the other. I guess I can mention what I didn’t like in a few countries. I wasn’t comfortable in Dubrovnik, Croatia
first time I visited; the salesladies in the stores gave out an iffy vibe, like I was bothering them. Last summer however, I spent a few hours there and found it okay. At the port, security allowed me to come in to take pictures, without a cruise card. I wasn’t a big fan of Phnom Penh in Cambodia, I had a difficult time entering the country,
some parts of the city had overflowing sewers that gave out a stench, the nylon paper bags that locals drank the popular sugar-cane drink were strewn everywhere and after visiting the killing fields, and seeing all tbose skulls, I had terrible nightmares of kids and adults alike screaming. At the Poipet border, I had a panicky moment when the border policeman whipped out his magnifying glass to look for God-knows-what in my passport. Of course up until now, I’m always bubbly with excitement, the kind of excitement I would have as a kid the day before Christmas, when I have a flight to South East Asia. I am a certified asiaphile..I go nuts about the region!
Then home is home. I’m always excited about going back to the familiarity of the country of my birth. The first time I went back after being away for years, I remember just sitting there on the Cairo to Nairobi flight and having a dandy time eavesdropping stories in sheng and heavily accented Kiswahili.
In a boat on the Indian Ocean, Mogadishu.
Khymer dancers in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
6) Feedback: I suppose travel bloggers feel most encouraged when we are hit back by messages of gratitude for inspiring others to travel or step out of their comfort zones. The messages that get me most are those that make the readers feel nostalgia about their countries when they haven’t visited for a while. “Thank you for covering our country, we haven’t been there since our childhood,” they gush. On my instagram, a lady from Ukraine said she and her family plus elderly grandmum pored over my pictures and wept as they recognized sights. Then the youthful Somali-diasporans have appreciated the Mogadishu posts and pictures, confessing they haven’t been since they were children.
The colourful baroque-style St Andrew’s church, Kiev Ukraine.
Wedding in Mogadishu, Somalia.
7) Troll alert; When folks talk about trolls, one’s first thought may be of the mythical creature from Scandinavian folklore; the gruff, dirty, loud creature that live in dark places, like caves or beneath bridges waiting to snatch up anything that passes by for a quick meal. In internet lingo though, the troll is a little similar, folks that hide behind computer screens, and go out to disrupt and cause trouble online. As with any online presence, the more followers you get, or the more controversial topics you dip your toes in, the more trolls will wade into ‘your waters’ to spit fire. Some trolls are plain sarcastic, others are just out to get you or make you feel bad. The curious thing about trolls is that most times, they operate under faceless pseudo names, meaning that they know what they are doing, in an act of cognitive dissonance, where they separate their ‘prim and proper selves’ from their ‘insulting-strangers-on-social-media’ selves. I hardly pay trolls any mind, but when they embark on hateful outbursts all over my posts, or pictures on instagram or facebook, I simply block and move on. Life is too short to spend time entertaining negativity on cyberspace.