Ayman Ramadan

Talking in Arabic

I often meet people from “my part of the world” here in Amsterdam Noord. But we don’t always have a lot in common.


Footsteps in Noord - Ayman Ramadan

On one of my walks, I met a 43 year old man from Egypt and all he wanted to talk about was to compare prices between Cairo and Amsterdam Noord. He loves Amsterdam Noord. Shirts at H&M are cheaper, although meat is more expensive, and there are more thieves. But at least he can “be himself.”
I met another Arabic speaker from Morocco, a 35 year old man who watched me collect objects in the street and wanted to know what I was doing. Remembering the incident with the children, I warily responded that I was an artist, and he exclaimed that he hated artists.
When I asked him why, he told me that a Dutch artist had made a movie about him. This man had gotten Dutch nationality, but in order to get the Dutch passport, he had to renounce his Moroccan one. The artist had been intrigued by his story and had filmed the Moroccan in the various embassies and bureaus as he filled out the paperwork; but in the end, the film painted a picture of the man’s life in Morocco as torture, while his new life in the Netherlands was bliss.
The man was furious. He had given away his Moroccan passport for purely pragmatic reasons, but still loved it there. He therefore was determined not to trust anyone who called himself an “artist.”
I tried to explain that not everyone is like that.
Then I tucked his story away in my mind as I continued to gather my objects in the street.