“On my fifteenth birthday my family moved to England from Turkmenistan. I am now thirty-two and have never returned to Turkmenistan. It is a closed off country, very difficult to enter even if you were born there. I also didn’t want to take the risk that, once in, I couldn’t leave. I have both a British and a Turkmenistan passport. The Turkmenistan passport is a unique document without an expiration date. This often causes problems at border control as they don’t know if the passport is still valid. This is annoying for someone who loves to travel.
After England I lived and worked in Paris. Which is where I met my Dutch boyfriend. We worked together and, to be honest, I found him really irritating. He used to pronounce his name in the strangest way. But after one long day we went out for a drink together and when we got to know each other a bit better found out that we liked each other. At the end of that evening he kissed me on my cheek and I said, “We should do this more often”. I meant go out for a drink. He thought I meant kiss. It ended up being both drinking and kissing.
After Paris we lived in India, and now it’s Amsterdam. At last I feel that I have found the right address. I have an amazing social life here. I love going out, am a big fan of electronic music, and think Amsterdam is a beautiful, small place to live. Compared to Mumbai or Paris it’s absolutely habitable; not so busy and very green. And the things a lot of people don’t like about Amsterdammers, I really appreciate: their directness. You never have to ask what they mean which means everyone gets on. Everyone is made the same way. We all work hard for eight hours, which leaves enough time for family, friends and home life. Amsterdam is unique. A small, pretty capital city which, because of this, attracts a lot of tourists. It’s very different from Turkmenistan, which is number ten on the list of ‘least visited countries in the world’.”
2 people in Amsterdam have the Turkmen nationality