Party at the park

What a gorgeous weekend we just had! After two full weeks of rain and cold (I’m talking 13ºC here!, the sun finally made an appearance just in time for a special afternoon party at the park.

Tala at Romy's party

It was a double celebration: a going-away party for Peggy and her family who are moving to Sweden very soon, and a birthday party for her eldest girl.

I love Europeans’ fun and casual approach to children’s parties—no big catered buffets or hired mascots here, just homemade goodies made with love, colorful decorations strung up on trees, and children playing in the grass and sunshine. I won’t give away too many pictures from the day, I’m sure she will post some photos on her blog too.

Birthday party decorations

Whether it’s The Hive or a children’s party, this woman always makes it look effortless! Peggy masterminding the celebrations behind the scenes (and behind the decorations).

Mom behind the scenes

It was just a happy, relaxed time in the sun with friends (from blogging, how wonderful is that!) and of course, family.

Birthday party at Oosterpark

Family photo Oosterpark

It was Tala’s first party too! Although she eyed the cake with great interest, she will have to stick to milk for a long while. Sorry, my love. You’ll get your turn.

Mmm... cake

This was just such a lovely afternoon (and the sunshine so rare!), I had to interrupt my stream of Berlin posts to share it. But there will be more Berlin posts (some of my real favorites from this trip!) this week for sure.

How was your weekend?

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Rooting around

There are so many music festivals on in Netherlands (and around Europe) now that it’s officially summer. Of the dozens of choices out there, the one I really wanted to go to was the Amsterdam Roots Festival, a week-long world music festival capped with a big, free concert at the Oosterpark. 

From what I gather, the Oost (East) of Amsterdam is where most of the immigrant and minority communities live. I’d been to the Oosterpark once before with Jon, to visit the Tropenmuseum located inside the park. Since the museum deals with the Dutch history of slavery and colonialism, I found this sculpture near the museum particularly poignant: chained slaves emerging on the other side of a portal to gain power and freedom.

Both Womad and the Roots Festival represent world music and are hugely popular events; that’s pretty much all the similarity they share. The Roots Festival is definitely bigger in scale than what we got in Singapore: five different stages compared to two. And the crowd was so diverse, which was such a pleasure to behold. No predatory expat-hunting posers in stiletto heels sinking into the grass, no boho uniforms of ethnic-print maxi dress, chunky jewelry and gold sandals. Just a laid-back vibe, lots of sunshine and good music. You could say we were pretty happy.

All around the park were stalls selling various world cuisines at affordable prices, jewelry, clothing, even art.

I was really intrigued by all the soul food and Caribbean cooking. We just don’t get that in our part of the world! The Dutch once held sizable colonies in the Caribbean, such as Surinam, a country of which I’d never heard until I moved here. Surinamese food is a big thing here.

For €4, we each sampled a Surinamese bara, which is a flavorful Hindustani-influenced fried bread made with bean flour. Mine was filled with grilled chicken and slathered with the spiciest sauce I’ve tasted since I moved to Holland, which turned my mouth into the Pacific Ring of Fire. And I mean that only in a good way; I’ve missed this kind of spice. The bara kept falling apart, but it made a real lip-smacking kind of mess, one that I’d definitely have again.

It was the best kind of Sunday afternoon. We wandered around the park, ducking into tents and drifting into crowds. We got into some Colombian funk and Portuguese fado… 

… mixed with some Dutch hip-hop. I love hip-hop, and being in the midst of the crowd who seemed to know all the songs and not being able to sing along was one of those frustrating moments when I really, really wish I spoke Dutch. I was proud of myself for understanding the words “left” and “right” in Dutch though. It made it easier to wave my hands in the right direction in a timely and thereby non tool-ish manner. Links en rechts, yo!

I’ll say it again, I really loved the crowd. I love that moms bring their babies to events like these (there is life after childbirth!), I love that people dance like nobody’s watching (because nobody does!) and I love that you can find people of all ages grooving together with such joy. Europeans must be solar-powered… because when the sun comes out they really just come alive.

Here’s me in my concert outfit: shorts with a floaty, semi-sheer, neon-dabbed top that I christened a drouse (dress/blouse). I’d been so excited for the weather to get warm enough for me to wear it, and it finally did. Yay summer!
In between acts, we would fall upon one of the park’s many sun-drenched grassy stretches to just lie down and chill. Many others had the same idea, although some were better equipped.

It was nice just to watch people go by. So many attractive people, diverse nationalities, and colorful characters. These two were my favorite passers-by: a guy with a face shaved into the back of his head (shades and a moustache!), and a fully-tattooed guy who would look kind of scary if not for his little stumpy adorable dog.

I would totally make this trip to the Oosterpark for the Amsterdam Roots Festival a yearly pilgrimage. On days like this, I just love this town!
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