Hello there

Long time no see

Here’s a poem.



Nachtelijke impressies

Nachtelijke impressies. Brussel. De 30 graden editie.

Het is half een. De moslims komen de moskee uit na het middernacht gebed en lopen gezellig pratend door de nazinderende straten. Mijn pyjama kleeft aan mijn lijf. Vanop het balkon kijk ik toe zonder gezien te worden. Een voordeel van onschatbare waarde. Vermoeid stroomt het warme bloed door mijn hoofd. Het is geen moment helemaal stil. Een meisje fietst voorbij met haar vriendje aan de hand. Hij balanceert op een breed skatebord en laat zich meevoeren door zijn zomers geklede maatje op de fiets. Een gezwind duo dat voorbij suist zoals de gedachten door mijn hoofd. Een voor een. Het wordt stiller nu. Gesprekken verstommen, voetstappen worden zeldzamer. Lichten doven een voor een. Ook mijn buurman schraapt het brandende eind van zijn sigaret langs het kozijn van de nacht en blaast zijn laatste rooksignaal de doezelende stad in –of zijn boodschap beantwoord wordt zal ik nooit weten. De trillende lucht heeft plaatsgemaakt voor een kalme bries. Een hond keft ijverig de laatste hitte van zich af en nestelt zich in zijn eigen vacht. Een vrouw wacht geduldig maar eenzaam voor een deur die gesloten blijft. Waar loopt de man met de kleurige all stars en het dansende fluitje op zijn borst heen? Zijn huppelpas vergezelt hem de straat uit. Slaapwel dorstige straten, slaapwel dommelende stad.

Les Miroirs

On évolue par expérience.

En cherchant, en essayant. Ce sont les nouvelles rencontres qui entraînent un changement en nous-mêmes.

Qu’est-ce qui nous attire dans une certaine personne, dans un certain paysage?
Un sourire?
Un rayon de soleil?
C’est notre propre reflet. On est des miroires vivants, en quête de reconnaissance.

On évolue par assimilation.

En observant, en imitant. On se met à la recherche d’un enseignant. Quelqu’un qui nous ouvre les yeux, qui nous ammène et nous rassure: le miroir ultime qui ne nous montre pas seulement qui on est, mais qui on pourrait devenir.

On évolue par désenchantement.

En se réveillant, en collision avec le verre du miroir. L’illusion s’éclate: le reflet n’est qu’un image qui existe dans notre propre regard. On se retrouve seul, mais la perte de cette illusion nous permet une prise de conscience: le détachement, la reconnaisance de l’autre.

On évolue par espoir.

En cherchant, en essayant. Ce sont les nouvelles rencontres qui entraînent un changement en nous-mêmes.


Wann sag ich wieder mein und meine alle?

Berlin, 9 november 1989.
A huge crowd of agitated citizens gathers at the wall which splits their country in two parts. A physical wall, seperating loved ones, family, friendships. An idealistic wall, dividing two political systems, two utterly different beliefs in how to cope with a society and all its problems. A symbolic wall, representing fear and misunderstanding.
The people scream, push and try to climb the ‘Mauer’ in a struggle for unity. The guards – and they too, have a voice- totally overwhelmed by the mass, hesitate and at last, cannot hold back the mass.
There falls the wall. The physical wall. The temporary wall.

Facebook, 9 november 2016.
An invisible wall divides the country across the sea. It is invisible but can be felt by every single person. It is a wall that stretches across the ocean, pushes forward across the internet into peoples bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens. It grows into people’s hearts. We built it. And are still building it.

Young Birds in Stormy Weather

Someone once told me:

“Only when we discover other life outside our planet, we will feel connected to the other inhabitants of our world. Only then we will identify with our fellow ‘earthlings’.”

Is that true?
Do we construct our identity solely in opposition to others?

There is a certain logic in this statement.

I only knew what it feels like to be Belgian when I met someone from another country for the very first time.  I could compare my identity as a Belgian with that of someone else. It became clear what it means to share a geographical region, a government (well, six governments in our case. But that’s a different story), certain habits and ideas, a common history. Therefore all of a sudden I saw the connection with other Belgians in a whole new light. I found out that people can have other ideas about the world than the ones I was used to, things that I had taken for granted were suddenly questioned.

The more people I met the more clearly my identity was shaped. I felt ‘Belgian’, but also ‘Hasselaar‘, ‘Vlaming‘, Western European citizen, European citizen, ‘Brusselaar‘, ‘Limburger‘…
And all these labels indeed referred to differences with other groups and a sense of community within a group. So in a certain sense, yes, my identity is shaped in opposition to others.

But hey, let’s put things in perspective.

Searching for identity also means to define and redefine these labels, because that is what they are after all.
Names that we gave to concepts in order to understand them.

I never labelled myself as an ‘earthling’, because indeed, there is no need to in reference to other life.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t identify as one. Here on Erasmus I met people from all over the world -from Sri Lanka to Italy to Bolivia- and I learned that we resemble one another more than can be seen at the first glance. I never felt a stronger connection to people from other cultures than now.

We are all young people, open to other cultures, open to get to know the world. Let’s try not to forget this once we are out of this dream-like Erasmus bubble and re-enter the ‘real world’.

Let’s get a little sentimental (I am allowed to, it’s almost the end of my Erasmus!)
I love you, my fellow earthlings… 🙂


credits: cover photo Lotte Stockmans

A Collection of Impressions

The light was dim in the dining room and nobody spoke a word.
A serene melancholy hung as a murky haze over the group of people
who were gathered together.
Time seemed to go unrealistically slow.

Most of the food – a leftover from the weekend –
lay cold and unappetizing on the large table.
It spread a nasty smell in the house.

Although the silence was full of unexpressed thoughts,
nobody seemed willing to renew the discussion;
it felt like a wordless conversation and provided a welcome respite after the frightening chaos of the last days.

There were no words needed to understand each other.

Together they brought the dirty glasses to the kitchen.
Together they did the dishes, threw away the rotten food,
washed the red wine stains out of the table cloth.

As the evening proceeded, the air became clear again.

Fresh words were found in all languages.

Finally, a neat, white table cloth covered the table again.
A candle was lit.IMG_1173

I Cried

And all of a sudden everybody started to scream. Gasps, cries, shouts, prayers filled the air.
People were running, stumbling through the crowd, terror and bewilderment on everyone’s face.

What had happened?

What had happened?

The air grew dense with anger, leaving hardly any space to breathe.
More and more people came and joined the chaos, astonished by the recent horror.
Upset, vexed, enraged.


In the middle of the chaos, a little boy stood on a rock. His name is Libra. Scales.
He silently watched the people around him in wide-eyed surprise.
Never had he seen anything like that before. He turned round and round on his rock and observed the people’s faces, listened to fragments of conversations, watched the bizarre mishmash of ideas and opinions. Some people carried images around and threw them into each others faces, shouting about sickness, about humanity, about war. Some of them closed their eyes or looked away. Some others only whispered soft words of despair, taking a neighbour’s hand.
Finally, he sat down to think.
Words didn’t come as easily to him as they would normally, but maybe it was better that way. Afraid to say something wrong, he stayed silent for a long time.
He thought about the different people he had met in his short life. He felt deeply connected to all and yet as if he really knew none of them. He wanted to understand them.
At last he spoke:
“Please, do sit down and talk.”