Babel theater in Beirut

This afternoon I stood on the stage in the Babel theatre. The props of the piece -The Maid – of Jean Genet where still there. I put on a coat and started to talk. The talk you know when you are really fat up with somebody. Maze was my director and he let me do it for three times. Then the smoke came up. I hope if I have a next live I will be an actress and a singer.  So I made hopefully good karma for this next change!

Wednesday we have our presentation here in the Babel Theater.  Our house here is just around the counter from Haram street. It is a very big flat with a lot of paintings in it. This morning Maze and me took advantage of not having internet connection in the house. We just look at the ceiling and made our own stories. It is a nice experience and after our disappointment from not having internet connection and we are almost happy with it now.

In the mean time we are going on exploring Beirut.


Beirut 2012


Tomorrow Maze de Boer and me will leave for Beirut. We will be the guest of Helen Karam visual artist and Director of the Babel Theatre.  We met each other last year during the Prince Claus awards. Later we had a lunch in my house. On the picture you see Samuel Shimon ( writer and editor from Banipal Magazine) with green pot ladle and  Jawad  Al-Alssadi art director and founder of the Babel Theater  and Nicoline Nagtzaam scriptwriter (hand up) and Helen Karam. Maze and me will give an introduction to our work and explore the possibilities of making new work.




Unveiling of the art work on the facade of the Library in Someren,the Netherlands.

Be Welcome 23-03 at 16.00

Here you can see my final work

More Information.



Yesterday evening Thomas and Sam have left for Europe. And I will leave to day. At this moment it is early morning and I am working in my hotel room with a beautiful view sight of the Arabic Golf. Of course it is an understatement but I shall miss this beautiful weather. We spent over days here to recover from our extreme tiredness and looking back we had a lot of joy over the one-liners used with good intentions and in difficult situations.

Such as:

We like to help you.

I have a brother who is in charge with this, I will call him

My friend is the friend of the governor

Please be patient

Tomorrow in shallah

This is our culture

Thank you so much

I am so sorry

Tell me what you need

No Problem

Bringing presents on difficult moments

It seams to be culturally determined that you don’t say now on a proposal. So if you get not a reaction after three times you know it is NO. We are all very disappointed that we could not spent more time in the Marshlands. To be honest I am not feeling taking serious in my attempt to research the marshlands. Of course we had also a great experience what I would have liked to miss only a small part of it. Also the people are very kind and were happy to see us there. But after 10 days of negotiation we have been exactly for one hour in the marshlands and that is after all my preparation a little bit sad. I know security and problems between organizations played a role in it. But that was not the whole reason there was also other interests what seemed to be more important or more attractive for the organizer in the Marshlands at that moment. I was in one Mudhif, we have beautiful shoots from the marshlands. But the marshlands are bigger I wanted to research more and did not only come so far for only beautiful shoots. There are contacts now on several levels and there are possibility’s to go back. What to say more then In shallah.

This picture has been taken in the old city part of Kuwait. Very nice place what gives me back my memories to old Cairo city.

The Marhslands

Today after 10 days of talking and under guidance of 15 police men. We finally visit a Mudhif and later we went by boat into the Marshlands very close to the Iran border.  The policeman really liked this trip as much as we. With us was also a sheik. He develops special programs for women into the Marhslands. He did not shacked hands with me because I am a woman. It seemed that there are floating special hormones between the hands and that would be dangerous for the appetite in sex. To morrow we leave for Kuwait. We are ready for this moment.

We are still here

We are still here

The last two days we spent talking, calling, much calling, waiting, drinking tea, smiling, sometimes shaking hands, sometimes putting my hand on my breast and then it seemed that yesterday evening the solution was there. Ahmed discovered in our passport that we had a special permit for work in Iraq valid for one month.

That was what we tried to obtain yesterday energetically and now it was handwritten in our visa.

So that obstacle seemed out of the way. This morning Ahmed was leaving for Holland so I was up early to wave goodbye. He seemed very worried. The political situation in Iraq worries him a lot. His advice: Go to the Marshes and then go away.

It is too dangerous now.  Marsoomi also looked worried and he is now going to the Governor to arrange our visit to the Marshes tomorrow.

Here we are very safe with a paradise surrounded by fences and patrolling policemen.

This morning last minute talks with Chaib Marsoomi together with Ahmed Faraj. And then the works on the Tigris riverbanks. Now still an image from the past and the present. Soon 5-star hotels at the shores of the Tigris. In the meantime I am not getting bored.

We get visitors everyday. At the building site we met Hasan, Ali and Riaed, workers from MercyCorps. An international movement for help in areas in shock. Yesterday they showed a movie they made themselves about the Marshlands. Finally we saw something about this beautiful land. And unfortunately there is not much left from this paradise for birds, plants and people. At this moment Syrians, Turks and Iranians are building dams in the Tigris and one of the consequences is that the soil gets silted.

I hope that we see the beautiful part tomorrow. Although I know that is an illusion. We met also Mohammed, an Iraqi who lives in Utrecht and is visiting his family here. We talk over the phone everyday and yesterday we lunched together. It is nice to to talk too an Iraqi in Dutch now and then, to understand everything a little bit. And now we wait for Mr. Marsoomi. In the meantime Sam reads an old HP magazine and Thomas did his washings. Sam always translates my text in English and I am very glad with that and the reader will be grateful probably.



The beginning of my day was a wake-up call : “madam,madam,passport,passport”. Then I noticed two made beds so where Sam and Thomas were I didn’t know. I gave my passport and decided to head for my bed. Later there was a terrible pounding on my door. With a confused head I opened the door and to my surprise saw 5 policemen standing there. Hollandia…yes, they made some gestures that I didn’t understand which was clear to them: “Excuses Madam”

That was the start of the day. One hour later Sam and Thomas came back. They made the last shots from Veerman and his team at the house. Because the security had to escort the Veerman team to Kuwait there was no security for us left.

So Mr. Marsoomi called the police and that was the beginning of a series of visits to police stations and even the Governor’s office. It was and is not simple, somewhere something went wrong in communicating but I don’t know where yet. Finally Mr. Gazan, head of the media department of the police came and after extensive talking we were asked to come to his General. He was residing in a beautiful building, especially his room. To much to explain, think of a lot of blingbling. Glass tables on golden (!) hands many golden lions, many artificial flowers. Very big sofas. What was very special was that we were being filmed and photographed (secret service) and that Thomas and I were doing the same. They accepted it and went on filming. Two large plasma screens. One with connection to eight other locations. The General gave his permission to film in the Marshlands and provided security for our stay. But his supreme boss the Governor did not give permission. So all of us went in the car to the Governor. Unfortunately in a meeting. And now, 5 hours later he still is. In the meantime people called their brothers who are minister and others who are friends with the Governor. We are waiting and know that in every city there is a meeting.

Because if a new government comes to power, then there will be a new governor in every city. So the new powers to be prepare for take-over and our case is peanuts at the moment. Twelve hours later. Alas. The Governor has decided. We can no longer leave our garden of eden. Tomorrow back to Kuwait. This the first phase of the

project of the Land of Two Rivers.

Our trip today

Ezuldeen, Zaineb en Mariam

This afternoon a worker from the resort came to us quite desperately and gesturing that it was about children who might become blind. He was followed by a man with three small children. It became clear that they were his son and two daughters. The girls were wearing sun glasses, one of then looked constantly down, and the boy was in a squatted position with his head as down to the ground as possible. To make a long story short. In the medical papers the father gave us, it was stated that they all needed a corneal transplant which was not possible in Iraq. Couldn’t we, with our media-team arrange for some kind of help in the Netherlands? After a lot of talking the story is now as follows. The imam is willing to pay for the operation but he will not advance the money. So if we could pay for it and the operation performed then they would get the money from the imam. This became clear after about two hours. In the meantime we made clear that we had no access to the media and that in Europe the streets were not paved with gold. When the father offered his daughter to me I couldn’t take it any more and left the discussion. Finally Sam and Thomas mentioned the Imam story. It seems that the most important information is hold till the end. I don’t know if we have the energy to figure this all out. After all we have to visit the first Mudhif.

In a moment we are going to make a boat ride on the Tigris river. A boat without engine but with paddles. If we are lucky we will just catch the sunset.

But, no; no sunset in a romantic boat. This is already the third day that the promised boat is cancelled for one reason or the other. Then a few pictures of our site The Garden of Eden and the city Al-Ahmara.



As I told already they work very hard to make the garden look like the plays by

Genet (paradise). A paradise with dolphins and a sad looking mermaid. Beautiful fountains. Playground material never unpacked, a slide ramp already rusted away.

But alas, in this hot paradise no swimming pool, not even a small pool. They hope Westerners will come but they definitely want to swim. I think it’s an interesting subject. The Tigris in front and till yesterday it was a big mess of plastic waste.

I spoke to the Cheik about it and he noticed it to….as a consequence it looks already

much better. A small carload of garbage was removed but still it is not clean.

The designer of the fountains comes from Baghdad. He learned the trade from his father who learned it from his father. Here in the garden of Eden no woman is to be seen. Last week some professors from Baghdad were here to do exams at Amarah University. Among them there were also some women. Why do I mention this. Well to be honest I become a bit rebellious. I’m beginning to feel oppressed by the dress code. And all day only men. Men who clean the windows. Men who bring tea. Men in long white dresses who sit behind closed doors. Men that weed. Men that paint dolphins. Men who serve breakfast. And so on and so on… Men who always politely say “Good morning Madam” and men in the office who want to learn me the word

“adebitsch” (phonetic) which means step by step.

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