Thursday, February 05, 2009

Office Borrels

A few weeks ago we had our annual office "borrel:" it's like a cocktail party. IFOR does this as a New Year's get-together, so friends and associates have an opportunity to see the office and meet new staffers. We host the event with lots of different drinks and Dutch snack foods and we provide a little entertainment for the quests, which are usually all from Holland.

I may have mentioned that I have been learning a new song, just for fun, as I was doing while in Rochester, NY. An acquaintance of mine, Hein, from the local library suggested the song, a classic Dutch "lied" by the name of Ode aan Maastricht, and, as he has been learning a song in English by Scottish singer/songwriter Amy Macdonald, I took the challenge.

Well, my musician friend Srdan in the office next to mine found out about this and talked me into singing the song, with him playing the guitar at the borrel. We practiced on and off for about a month, although I was still hesitant about doing this in front of a house full of native Dutch speakers. Additionally, I had invited a couple of neighbors (women friends) this year, who just happen to be in local singing groups―although, probably not the best way for me to get to know them better.

Anyway, the time came and I ended up singing at the party. Luckily all went well, and everyone had a few good laughs at the same time. It was really a riot! Srdan plays professionally and helped me though all of it, otherwise I might have been deported by now. Just kidding! My next door neighbor and her friend even asked me to join their singing group... Oh ya', I thought, that should be interesting. Seems like everyone in Alkmaar is in a singing or musical group; "it's the thing to do."

So... on Monday night I showed up for my first practice with the "Spoorbijster," 18 women and now two guys with me included. At least all the songs are in English and older 60s, 70s, and 80s rock 'n roll and Motown hits that I've heard many times in my youth. The last number of the night was "Happy Together" by The Turtles. Ha!