Welcome at the blog of Dini Commandeur. I've written quite a lot of columns for various magazines. I also write short stories every now and then. These columns and stories are available for everybody at this blog. I'll release new columns and stories periodically.


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« Oh, wonderful, the In… | Home | Leeuwarden.....of all… »

About Joshua and the personal relation to columns

column June 2005 Wednesday 15 June 2005 At the retirement party of Mr. Offringa one of my readers told me that she especially enjoyed it when she could personally relate to the contents of a column.  I immediately took note of that, but was also presented with a dilemma: The wishes of my readers are important to me and, therefore, I’d like to write a piece that one can relate to, but this time I also really wanted to write about something my young pen pal Sun recently told me about life in Lard Yao, an infamous jailhouse in Bangkok.

And I wanted to tell about Joshua, another pen pal, who stays at the Bangkwang Prison.  Joshua and I have interesting discussions about life, religion, etc.  Oh yes, we philosophize to our hearts’ content, Joshua and I.  Of course, we also pay much attention to music, because Joshua is a professional musician and gives music lessons to his fellow inmates at the jail.  He teaches languages as well:  Chinese, Thai, and English.  This way, he tries to make a bit of money so he won’t always have to eat the gruesome jail food (once a day they receive a portion of unwashed, brown rice, including sand and pebbles, accompanied by fish heads – enjoy!).  Joshua also teaches religion with great passion.  Sometimes, he really scares his pupils, but when I suggest he shouldn’t preach hell and damnation but, rather, love, light, and forgiveness, he answers: “I do that, Dini, but sometimes I have to scare them to prevent them from sliding and they have to be kept from sin.”  Oh well, I don’t interfere any further, because who am I to tear down their religion?  He has a difficult life, my pen pal Joshua, but his motto is that everything has a beginning and an end and that bad times, too, will pass.  “All has a beginning, all has an end.”

A while ago, I received a cassette tape via a missionary who lives in Thailand and visits and helps the inmates.  I was expecting the tape – Joshua had talked about it often.  As the leader of the jailhouse band he has the use of a type of studio and musical instruments and had made an “album” (a cassette tape) of gospel songs, which he wanted me to have.  After quite some time, the tape was finally delivered and I found that I had received a very special gift indeed.  Although I am not particularly religious, I was impressed by Joshua’s music and the faith and trust it conveyed… it touched me.  I thought Joshua deserved some attention for his work and, thankfully, the Evangelical Broadcasting Company (EO) agreed.  An editor came to interview me – microphone under my nose, the questions proper and integer - it was an enjoyable experience.  The editor thought the topic rather interesting as well so we couldn’t stop talking long after the interview had ended.  I was very happy that some of Joshua’s music was played during the broadcast itself, a part from the song “El Shaddai”.

However, as mch fun as the interview was, there probably wasn’t much my readers could relate to.  “Why don’t you write about this evening?” said the lady who liked it when there were aspects to my column that she could personally relate to.  And yes, reading about the retirement party for Mr. Offringa would give many a feeling of connection.  It was a beautiful evening full of surprises and, of course, lots of good food and drink, but more importantly, it was warm, friendly, and fun.  The speeches, as they should be, were drenched in humor, but, nonetheless, there was a pause to remember the death of a cherished colleague and you could feel the sorrow. 

The night continued with the shaking of hands and the presentation of surprising gifts.  There was good listening music and especially fun were the line dances.  It touches me when I see those dancers in their cowboy clothes and I love to watch them. 

On a side note:  A friend of mine does line dancing, which she thinks is terrific because you don’t need a dance partner.  She used to go ballroom dancing, but as a financially secure, nice widow, a bachelor dance partner who thought of himself as potential marriage candidate besieged her.  She, however, wasn’t exactly waiting for this gentleman, so she bought a tight pair of jeans, spiffy lace-up boots, a snazzy, checkered blouse and joined line dancing, because there she didn’t have to fight off a marriage-minded dance partner.  No hanky panky in the Congo line for her!  Thankfully, the Congo line dance was missing from the retirement party as well, but the communal singing of “Bank of Hope and Glory” was beautiful.  It was so good to see old acquaintances and to chat with another member of my generation about our kids.  The best description of this evening was “beautiful, warm, and friendly”.  That’s a different way for the banking world or, perhaps, it’s unique for Friesland Bank?  All good things come to an end, and so it was for this fun evening.  On our way to the coat check we passed the tables loaded with party food.  There was more than enough, especially of the salted herrings that were beckoning to be consumed, and I had to think of Joshua and his “stinky rice” with fish heads.

Afterwards, we walked across the red carpet into the soft spring weather, while a few security guards wished us a friendly “good night”.

Text : Dini Commandeur      Translation: Maria O’Neill 


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