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Book Club review of The Japanese Lover, by Isabel Allende

book-club-logo

by Anne van Oorschot

On the last day of May this year, loyal members of TIC’s Book Club met to discuss our latest book, The Japanese Lover, by Isabel Allende. We were fortunate to have nice weather, which allowed us to sit outside and enjoy the peaceful spring evening.

In keeping with the theme of the book, Sondra brought Asian treats: Sake – which we warmed and had out of beautiful, white porcelain cups – and mix of wasabi rice crackers and nuts. While our back garden, does not approach the beauty of the Japanese gardens described in the book, it still helped to complete our Japanese experience. A hot air balloon even floated silently high overhead during our discussion which added to the special atmosphere!

All of us had enjoyed the book – then the conversation paused… When we got past our initial assessment and talked further about the book, it was clear there were many small details and story lines that had been introduced…but never really went anywhere. We were actually left with a lot of questions: Could Irina really enter into a relationship with Seth without going through therapy to deal with the horrors of her past? There were many different stories of religion and spirituality – what message was the author trying to pass along? Why was Alma’s brother only ‘brought back from the dead’ in 2 brief instances and their relationship not developed further? Why did Alma choose to abandon her beautiful home and comforts when she lost her lover?

The information about the internment camps that Japanese Americans were forced into during WWII was disturbing. The injustice of locking up fellow citizens based on their ethnic background and the indelible effects that resulted were profound. All of us around the table were Americans, and we agreed that little had been said in our history lessons about this dark page in America’s past. (The comparison with the present treatment of American Muslims seems too close for comfort…)

As usual, the good book resulted in an interesting discussion – which led to conversations about chicken pox and walking toddlers, a Wedding with family visits, trips to Japan and Rome, months in Milan, and how distressing that every day seems to bring incredible new low points in the constant stream of embarrassments from the US President. In short – it was a fun evening. A good close to this club year for the group.

TICMovie Night review of the Jackie

bmovie-nighty Anne van Oorschot

Cinecitta was again the location for our movie night where we saw the film, Jackie, about First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy in the days following the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. We were a small group of 4, but that had the advantage of making for a more intimate discussion of the film over drinks and snacks afterwards. We all enjoyed the movie and felt it gave a good impression of Jackie, flaws and all. Natalie Portman did an amazing job portraying her!

The film showed a televised tour she gave of the White House and we were all curious if her rather breathless way of speaking was accurate, as well as other details of the tour shown. I was so curious that when I got home, I searched on internet and found the tour on internet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7XabXENChE

Ms. Portman was spot on!

St. Patrick’s Day happy hour

by Andrew Kelly

This year was a special year as St. Patrick’s day, the national holiday of my home country, the Republic of Ireland, coincided with a Friday. So, the TIC team decided to combine the monthly borrel with a St. Patrick’s day celebration and, of course, have it at Ruby’s Irish bar.

Some of you might ask who is St. Patrick and did he invent Guinness? Well, no, he was a Welsh priest who brought Christianity to Ireland after the fall of the Roman empire. If you want more info on this, check out this Wikipage. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick

So, St. Patrick’s day 2017 started like all big parties with the decoration in the party area in Ruby’s bar. Snacks were supplied and from 17:00 to 18:00, it was two pints of Guinness for the price of one. As they say back in my home town “ happy days”. Once every one had arrived, the guests were invited to learn how to make a baby Guinness which seem to have gotten the party started.

As everyone was enjoying themselves, I completed one of my bucket list items and that was to play in an Irish bar on St. Patrick’s Day. I only managed to do 3 songs, but the crowed seemed to enjoy it. The rest of the night was spent mixing with other pub goers in a Irish celebration were everyone was welcome.

Dutch Elections: Why Nexit didn’t happen

elections-1by Sondra Grace

On March 8th , shortly before the Dutch were due to go to the polls, Hein van Oorschot, formerly the
Mayor of Delft, gave an excellent TIC Talk on the Dutch electoral process. Today, the day following
Theresa May’s comeuppance, here’s what I remember: The main law making body, the House of
Representatives, is the Tweede Kamer (Second Chamber). Representatives are not elected to it by
gerrymandered district like in GB and the US, but instead nationwide and at large. You choose a
candidate from a tiny-tiny- print list, although in fact, your vote will go to the political party of which the candidate is a member – except in the case of Wilders as he is the sole member of the Party for Freedom (pretty name, not so pretty party). All the votes for every qualifying candidate are tallied. This total is divided by 150, the number of seats in the chamber, with each party receiving its proportionate share. The parties send the representatives from their list in the order they appear on the Ballot. (There are
complex rules to determine who gets leftover votes — there being no partial seat.)

electionsUnlike the British first-past- the-post system and the American Electoral College one, both of which are virtual road blocks to smaller political parties, the Dutch proportional system encourages a proliferation of parties. Last March there were 28 of them on the ballot, including ‘50 PLUS’ that looks after the interests of pensioners, and ‘D66’ founded by a group of young intellectuals. (Much to my chagrin there is no party for pensioned intellectuals.) With such an extensive menu of parties to choose from, it is almost impossible for any one party to get a majority sufficient for passing laws by itself, so the parties have to negotiate with one another to form a coalition. The bargaining typically proceeds at a leisurely pace—talks are still going on now, three months after the election. Winner-take- all systems lead to things like Brexit, but the need to form a coalition and to then to keep it intact by getting along with the other partners means that in the Netherlands extreme parties are usually frozen out. The chances of Nexit were probably about the same as in this age of global warming there ever being another Elf-Steden Tocht ice skating race, that is, when Hell freezes over.

Reminder: 2017 TICnic!

Date: Sunday, 18 June 2017
Time: 12:30 – 17:00
Register by15 June 2017 (registration form below)
Cost: €7,50 for adults, €3,00 for children over 5 years, children under 5 are free
Guests: €12,50 for adults, €8,00 for children over 5 years, children under 5 are free (READ about how this can be pro-rated towards your membership fee)

Bring: A salad or dessert to share

We are at the end of another club year and it is time for our annual picnic, or TICnic as we like to call it. We will meet on the campus of Tilburg University where we can use the tables and grassy area shown above for an afternoon of tasty fun and friendship.

TIC will provide the drinks, meat, grills, dishes, etc and we ask that you bring a salad or dessert to share with the group. Members, partners, kids of all ages, friends…everyone is welcome!

Upcoming Events

  • Book Club: All the Light We Cannot See 29 August 2017
  • Welcome Day Event 9 September 2017
  • TICKids: Maisdoolhof (Corn Maze!) 17 September 2017

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