Expat zone
Posted on: Apr 12, 2013

Foreigner in a land without curtains


This post is also available in Greek

Each one of us that came to stay in the Netherlands didn’t randomly choose this country. Everyone of us thought about it carefully, made a plus/minus list and finally made up their mind. For me the minuses where the cold, my friends and family that i was leaving behind, my mother's food but also the Dutch language that sounded like a conversation between Aragorn and Galadriel at the Rivendell. The plusses where certainly the new career opportunities that were awaiting, the new adventures that I would live, the different people that I would meet but also the open mind that I would find.

Because I believe that I have an open mind, even though I had the blinds down and was waiting for one day to finally dawn. Here they don’t have blinds in their houses. Many times they don’t even have courtains. Anyone that comes here from Greece, is looking around and is hit with the first cultural shock.

But, isn’t this the country that Big Brother was born?

Do you think it might be because of that?

I wondered when I first got here. But I also have a window at my house and no one ever looked inside to see what I am doing.

12 months with a curtain-less window and I feel more liberated already. In Greece I used to open the curtain and I could see eyes watching me. I had nothing to hide but still I was pulling the curtain back in a hurry, because that is what they taught me.

To close the curtains on my neighbours but also on the taboos that were around me. Taboos that were never mine. Homosexuality, racism, marriage, political views, sex, drugs, religion, issues that in 2013 we all owe it to ourselves to have a view, even a nihilistic one.

So there you have the main reason I chose the Netherlands and Amsterdam in specific. Because all this time I was running to stay clear of unending conversations about if it is right for a homosexual couple to adopt a baby or if we should send all immigrants back to their countries or in the end, who stole the money and with whom else, even though we all know who it was and even if we ourselves, in our own way, belonged in that infamous gang.

But all that is far away from us. We feel safe in a country that allows with moderation almost everything. Here we can speak out freely and loudly, dress up like Zorro and hit the streets (even though someone else did that already), we can listen to any kind of music we want, love anyone we want or get lost in the sercet pleasures and hidden sins of the Red Light and the center, lost between the tourists. The tourists that came to meet the country and the “tourists” that thought one day they’ll be expats, Greeks and foreigners alike.

Yes, foreigners... because even today they are foreigners. Since I was a child that was the name I learned to call them by,

- What kind of music do you listen to? - Foreign kind.

And now, I am a foreigner in their country and my music is foreign to them. How much more interesting can it get? They get to know me, I get to know them, without looking back. Because there is no back. Greece is the place I grew up and Netherlands is the place I will live. But why should I put myself in a depressed state of mind and see it like that? After all even Jim said “People are strange, where you are a stranger”

The photos were taken from my good friend & photo-ninja Thrasos Panou.

Born in Volos in 1980. As a kid was filled many concerns about life. Sports lover, naturalist and big fan of travelling. He has majored in multimedia development and the past few years he's grown passionate for photography and photo editing. His purpose is to offer the world the best images one can shoot and edit. Believes that everybody has an artist inside. It only takes for one to believe in himself. You can find about more at Thrasos website: Thrasivoulos Panou Photography

Mike Klianis

Designer, marketer & a social media karate kid (No 4). When she grows up, she wants to feed the world with Greek food & Frappe. Admires the yellow angry bird because it strikes its targets with power and precision.