Already operational last month but recently opened by city officials, the Zorgvlied crematorium in Amsterdam features a unique teepee shaped building that has room for cremations and an audience watching the cremation – a Dutch first.
In fact, the design of the place was all about giving bereaved families and friends a chance to be with the dearly departed right until the end. The upwards swirling style of the crematorium gives the impression of going towards the heavens.
Cremation is more popular than burials in Amsterdam, for reasons of space and functionality, and its popularity continues to increase. Budget surely plays a role in this as well.
You can actually visit the crematorium on Sunday 29 May and Sunday 5 June between 12:30 and 17:00, follow the link below for more details. Last Sunday attracted 400 people curious to see what it looks like.
In a few days Professor Renske Keizer of the University of Amsterdam, 32, will become the world’s first and only ‘Professor of Fatherhood’. Mother of three children herself, she researches the effect fathers have on children in different family configurations and opposes the ‘glorification’ of motherhood in the Netherlands, which constantly downplays the role of fathers in Dutch families regardless of their contribution.
Keizer explains that fathers of low income families play a lesser role than those of high income families and that a lack of affordable childcare, lack of paid and unpaid paternity leave and many other 1950s relics skew the balance between mothers and fathers, with fathers getting the short end of the stick. While Dutch fathers have voiced a desire to want to work part-time like most mothers do but cannot because they are expected to work full time and Dutch working mothers making less than working fathers, it’s tough to foster any change without taking a hard financial hit.
Dutch women entered the job market in the 1970s, decades later than their western counterparts, and the obstacles facing them today stem from the ingrained idea that women don’t need to work to support their families or develop themselves. “Men work to take care of their family, that’s their role. Many women see work as something that conflicts with what they do at home, clean and take care of the children. That’s Dutch culture. You’re a bad mother if you bring your children to daycare more than three times a week, but not a bad father. Society needs to make a change.”
Keize is attempting to see if being a father contributes to raising children in a unique way, but warns that maybe it does not. She explains that generally fathers speak to their children more like adults, while mothers tend to speak to their children more on their level in part because mothers tend to know their children’s capabilities better. However, fathers play a major role in increasing children’s vocabulary. The same goes with reading bedtime stories, something Keizer admits high income families do way more than low income ones: a mother reads a story as it is in the book, while dad makes stuff up as he goes along, triggering children’s creative thinking.
Keizer is also researching LBGTI parents and is very aware of the differences between white Dutch folks and other ethnic groups, hoping that she can attract more diversity to her study.
A small convoy of six self-driving trucks arrived in the Port of Rotterdam this week after an experiment organisers say will “revolutionise future road transport on Europe’s busy highways”. Some of the trucks in this convoy came from as far as Sweden and Southern Germany, and some of you may have even passed them without knowing it.
This ‘truck platooning’ involves two or three trucks that autonomously drive in a convoy, connected by wireless with the leading truck determining route and speed. It it is said to ensure cleaner and more efficient transport. Dutch Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen also explains that self-driving vehicles contribute to road safety because most accidents are caused by human failure.
The trucks drive at a constant speed, maintain the same distance between them by braking at the same time, while standardisation will allow trucks from different companies to ‘talk to each other’.
The Netherlands currently holds the EU presidency and plans to hold an informal summit in a few weeks to discuss changes to regulations needed to “make self-driving transport a reality.”
The city of Amsterdam released a video yesterday titled 15 Years of Equal Marriage.
The video shows the city celebrating and looking back on the four same-sex weddings that were held at city hall on 1 April 2001. The weddings were officiated by Job Cohen, the former mayor of Amsterdam, at midnight.
As of March 30 KLM has been letting its passengers check in online using Facebook Messenger. Passengers can get their boarding cards and flight information as well as ask KLM any questions they may have directly instead of having to use Twitter or post their story on KLM’s Facebook page for all to read. A boarding pass that used to have to be sent per e-mail or text message can now be sent by Messenger.
Although a world premiere in aviation, we’re calling this a Dutch first because car service Uber was the first company to use Messenger. You can now order an Uber as you land at Schiphol if you wanted to. In the future, other companies will follow suit as well, according to Facebook. KLM is also talking to WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, to extend their services.
I’ve recently noticed an increase in popcorn flavours besides salty and sweet at my local supermarket, such as fancy popcorn with cheese and chives and what not from the UK as well as Dutch attempts at making popcorn that reminds me of American Cracker Jack.
This time Italians are bringing the popcorn to downtown Amsterdam, with the opening of FOL Gourmet Popcorn, the first ever popcorn shop of the country. Flavours will include bacon, chili pepper and white chocolate with pretzel. You can also sit down and have a beverage with your popcorn.
I love popcorn and every time I reach for some I say ‘popcorn!’ and picture of James Brown getting down.
On 16 January, the Arcade hotel in Amsterdam will open its doors, the country’s first gaming hotel, where the Aalborg hotel in the De Pijp district used to be. The idea of a gaming hotel came from Montréal, Québec (where I’m from), and the owners promised to serve poutine, although I wonder how they will get the cheese curds for it because nobody makes that kind of cheese here.*
The rooms offer a lot of retro games, some that gamers can’t find as easily from Nintendo, Sega and Microsoft and they’ll be at least 10 kinds per room. And if that’s not enough, the lobby will also feature comic books as reading material, another favourite of new manager Daniel Salmanovich.
“Hotels always claim that they want to be a home away from home, but that’s nonsense. People want something different than what they have at home when they’re travelling. There’s enough hotels that offer pay-per-view and Netflix to their guests, and I wanted a hotel for people like me who relax with gaming.”
Salmanovich also says he’ll be offering poutine, Québec’s world-reknowned fast food dish, which newspaper Het Parool got wrong by saying it had ‘grated cheese’ (cheddar bits would have been more accurate), but called it a ‘unofficial national dish’, which means that the journalist has a better grasp of geopolitics than food.
*The Québec Delegation in Brussels, who represents the Benelux worked very hard to get a Belgian cheese maker to make 40 kg of cheese curds for the Québec national holiday parties on 24 June a few years ago.
The stop motion series ‘Pat a Mat’ from the Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia) created by Lubomír Beneš and Vladimír Jiránek from 1976 to 2015 has a wildly popular Dutch version called ‘Buurman en Buurman’ (‘Neighbour and Neighbour’), two handymen getting themselves into all kinds of trouble. The fun part is they never get mad at each other, delighting children and parents alike, so much so that some people probably think it’s Dutch of origin.
Yesterday on the Dutch telelvision show ‘Jinek’ named after host Eva Jinek who happens to have a Czech background, theatre show creator Jelle Kuiper announced he had been given the green light to write 10 more episodes of the show in collaboration with the Czech makers for international distribution sometime in 2017. Kuiper was thrilled to be asked to do this, again highlighting the popularity of the Dutch version since it first appeared on television in 1986.
During Jinek, Kuiper explained that the Germans tried to launch the show three times and failed, something that surprised the guests and the host considering how much Czech culture the German have embraced. Kuiper said that “the Germans didn’t like things going wrong”, and apparently the Dutch love that part a lot.
We’ve written quite a bit over the years about carnival music (here and here), but this year a carnival party crew has kicked up a notch, giving Amsterdam a carnival name.
And that name is ‘Gròòtgragtegat’, roughly ‘big hole with canals’, a name given by Alaaf & Kicking, a party organisation made up of people from Noord-Brabant living in Amsterdam who will be holding a carnival party on January 22. They actually held a vote for the name, as other contenders were ‘Amsteldonk’ and ‘Poalkesdurp’.
Pronouncing ‘Gròòtgragtegat’, with the typical hard gutteral ‘g’ sound of Amsterdam residents is tough even for Dutch people and great practice for anybody else. Here’s a whopping list of Dutch cities that get carnival names according to Wikipedia. Amsterdam isn’t on it – yet.