zaterdag 31 augustus 2013

Living at two places - Amsterdam and Deventer (Part 1)

The dry and regular sound of the train suddenly changes into a darker rattling. I know, we are passing the bridge over the charmingly winding river IJssel. Automatically am I consciously looking to the right: the very special view on the sleepy town, Deventer, with its pittoresque skyline. The tower of the big citychurch rises over the IJssel-villas and the different other roofs of this town. In the IJssel you see the stream and a big inland boat is with a soft broum finding its way. My heart is beating a little faster.It really is like coming home with all the longings a shelter is promising you connected to that. Many people from the East and not only from Deventer are exoeriencing something like this. Deventer is coming home or even is the same as at home. Behind the IJssel life is less hectic and people are more friendly, at least different is often the thought.

Why Deventer?
In former days I went to school there, a part of my gymnaisum-time. That means the time in which I grew older and started learning what life was about. Me and my family (parents and sister) did not live in Deventer as such, but in a minor country-village Wesepe, about eight kilometers outside. Nevertheless was Deventer the focus in this period I grew up. The end of the sixties and the beginning of the seventies with all the kind of cultural changes. The music which connected young people. The time to find out about hash and marihuana. A democratizing movement at the teachers-academy. Finding out about being together with girls. Often visiting coffeebars (not the hash-coffeebars you have today in our country) where you could meet other young people from the other schools. Many footsteps are faded away un this delicious lively town which was not sleepy at all, when you first get in touch with it.

I am back in this town and am living there since two and a half years now. Next to livng in Amsterdam. Around the corner is my former school-building. Now a building for smaller entrepreneurs and their offices. In the house where I am living there is built in a two-room appartment. The owner is living with his wife in the rest of the colossal, especially deep and rather old house in a more quiet part of the city-centre. Some hundred meters away from the IJssel. The banks at the border have become my balcony-seats. The owner is an other rudiment of the past. We were classmates once and celebrated together our final examination. So, not only the town as such, but also the very place, where I am living here is a matter of roots. Part of my roots. The period in which I got to understand that people are not only living as loose individuals without context, but also as a part of society. In my schoolclass for instance I got to feel much clearer then before that there were children from very rich people and living in the goldcoast-villages around Deventer as at the same time there were children with a clear workers-background, mostly from Deventer itself. But also in other ways I found out about this point. Basis of my development as a leftist.

City of culture
Deventer is an old Hansa-town. When I came back here, I had the idea of a town with about 60.000 inhabitants. I found out that it had grown out until nearly 100.000 inhanbitants. Seen in geographical space as such it nearly doubled since my early days. But also since then it had swallowed two country-communes just outside (Diepenveen and Bathmen). The centre has not changed that very much. Except for the big changes in the station-area, like in many cities was the case. A new Citytheatre and a huge skyline also defining office- and business-building. Awful in my view. Furtheron maybe more nice little shops and the two Middel Aged cityquarters, which started to be restored in my school-time. They are totally finished now. This restoration has been a real uplift. In my schooldays these quarters were quite shabby, just old and here and there really dirty and ugly.

In one of these two quarters, in the Noordenbergkwartier, I am living. Just near a beautifully restored old cloister and the Atheneum-library with a very well cared old garden. These two buildings say something about the cultural meaning Deventer always have had. On a national plan, but also internationally seen. It nearly had got a University. Since the Middle Ages there was the Latin School. You can say that even more important for the later cultural development or you must say strongly connected with that has been the religious movement of the Modern Devotion (one of the preprotestant movements in the still one Western Christian church in the 14th and 15th century). Geert Groote was the internationally known leader and inspirator of this movement.  Just one thing more in this context: Since the end of the 15th century also Deventer became a town wit an important book-production and later in connection to that much graphical and editorial activity. Until now there are noticeably many antiquarian bookshops to be found as well as the famous and huge Bookmarket in the beginning of August (among other places in the town especially a many kilometers long ribbon of bookstands along the border of the IJssel).

Also Go Ahead Eagles
Deventer is good at this: the organizing of numerous big cultural events of quite different character in which the whole town, all the places and many streets as well as the very old and beautiful city-park at the other border of the IJssel more or less are taking part. First of all throughout the year different Music-festivals (rock, blues, pop) in pubs through the whole town at the same evening. In wintertime there is the big Dickensfestival, especially in one of these nice Middle Age quarters. I find that less interesting, but it is there in December. Really interesting I think is the big Street-Theatrefestival 'Deventer op stelten' (stilts), somewhen in a weekend in July. Acts from allover Europe and sometimes the world. 140.000 visitors over the weekend. A full camping-site at the other side of the IJssel, to be reached with a lovely foot-ferry. Last but not least - I will forget something, but however -  there was in June the celebration of the fact that 'our' footballclub, Go Ahead Eagles, came back in the first Division after 17 years. A club with a very strong basis in the hearts of the Deventer people. A big celebration. The stadium was too small for this celebration, again the main place in town was full of people. Celebrating!

Nearly an allover complete history and touristguide-story. It is not my intention here. Ofcourse not, I would say. Only an even allready incomplete story about the part of my life I live in this town and about the fact that I love living here. About things and developments I see since I came back. Sometimes things and developments I was not that interested in in those early days. But what I see as very special and typical for this town now. Now that I grew older and have learnt to look at things in a different and more contracted perspective. I am also writing here with the thought of a kind of evaluation of newly living here again in connection to an 'other life' here. Mostly the positive things that warm my heart and fill out that I love to live here. Not yet about the things one could also write about, the more negative things. Like that one found to have to spend many millions on a new Town Hall or that an alderwoman found to have to propose that we do not need professnionals any longer in the home-care. People could do the job on a voluntary basis and also as unemployed. An awful thinking is coming up in some circles now that the neoliberal austerity is getting deeper and deeper in into the hearts of societal wellfare. Those are other stories. Maybe an other time. Also personally not all is only nice, when I think about losing a very good friend with whom it seemed to be very special living in Deventer again. And of course this is only a story about Deventer. An other time maybe about the living in the, in an other way, very beautiful Amsterdam.


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