Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kamiel Spiessens says that it's easy!

Flemish culture is a tricky beast. Unlike my experience in Poland, it remains mostly hidden to those who don't yet speak Dutch. Case in point: a friend of mine was in a gym, and was invited to a drink. "Do you speak Dutch?" he was asked. Upon giving a negative answer, he was told, "Oh, that's too bad, you can't go out with us then!"

I think it's a symptom of some of the strong regional pride that's been around for most of history in this area. I can't blame them, but still find it frustrating - and most expats I've spoken to agree. I haven't stopped trying, though.

Although I'm completely guilty of spreading myself too thin with languages, never becoming really fluent in any of them, I am still enamored of Dutch, and one boy in particular who speaks it. The other day, he taught me the following song, sung by a comedic farmer character named Kamiel Spiessens. That's him on the left.

Now the fun part: I'll translate the song for you now, to show you how easy it is!

Mijn naam is Kamiel Spiessens My name is Kamiel Spiessens
En ik droom niet van actrices
And I don't dream of actresses
Ik hang nooit aan de toog
I never hang out at the bar
Ben amateur-archeoloog
I'm an amateur archaeologist
De natuur dat is een wonder
Nature is a wonder
Met de wespen de gedonder
With its wasps of thunder*
In mijnen hoofd is 't goed
It's good in my head
Wanneer ik spit en delf en wroet When I dig and dig and dig**

Het isj nie moeilijk
It isn't hard
Het isj gemakkelijk
It's easy!
Het isj nie moeilijk
It isn't hard

Elk terrein heeft zijn geheim
The terrain has its secret
En dat zit 'm in de grond
And it sits in the ground
Als ge staat onder uw voeten
If you stand under your feet
Als ge zit onder uw kont
If you sit under your ass
Wat erin zit haal ik eruit
What lies therein I get it out
Wat ik eruit haal zet ik terug
What I get out I put it back
Zo'n tijd snel loopt het zweet
Soon after quickly runs the sweat
Helegans van mijnen rug
Whole down my back


Een doos biscuit, een treinticket
A box of cookies, a train ticket
Een tijgerslip en een raket
A pair of tiger underwear and a rocket
Een vals gebit, een perenpit, een jas van bont
A pair of false teeth, a pear pit, a fur coat
't Is niet te doen wat dat ge vindt onder de grond
There's no telling what you can find under the ground

Ik ben UV-bestendig en ik word dus nooit niet bruin
I am UV resistant and I never get brown
Al graaf ik ganse dagen in mijn grote groene tuin
I spend all days in my big green yard
Naar dingen onder 't gras
For things under the grass
Onder de grond, onder 't gewas
Under the ground, under the sod
Ik ben niet echt begaafd
I'm not gifted
Maar wel op zijn minst verslaafd
But at the least addicted


Ze zeggen mij "Kamiel,
They say to me, "Kamiel,
Doe niet zo imbeciel.
Don't be an imbecile.
Dat is toch genen stiel?
Are those steelmakers' genes?
Zeg, vind gij dat nu veel wiel?" Say, do you find that many wheels?*
Dan zeg ik "Luister Bobbie,
Then I say, "Listen, Bobbie,
Laat mij gerust, het is een hobbie.
Leave me alone, it's a hobby.
Zowaar, ik ben Kamiel
Behold, I am Kamiel
En ik spit met hart en ziel."
And I dig with heart and soul."


*note: this makes no sense in Dutch either
** these are different words in Dutch but all are synonyms of dig

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Where should I go next?

You know, my gig here in Antwerp is almost up. In fact, I have only three measly months to get my act together! So I'll ask you out in cyberland for a little help: do you think there is any place that fits my needs, as outlined below?

1. After living a stone's throw from Wawel Castle for a year, I think I need to reenact my princess fantasies.

2. Out of the Beatles, my favorite is John Lennon. This is mostly because I love telling one person in particular that I "will never be the Yoko".

3. I have not lost my fascination with impossible languages. Especially Dutch!

4. I like good beer.

Hmm, this might be tough. Any ideas?