10.463.000 meters

Marco Baldan
4 min readJun 17, 2022

10.463 km in less than 5 months. This is the amount of Dutch roads I drove through since the beginning of 2022, the year of the Russian assault to Ukraine.

Without any doubt 96% of those k’s have been the 70 something odd ones between Amsterdam and Rotterdam, a place I traveled to regularly because of a job.

Day in day out are Dutch drivers in line

Assuming the average speed could not be more than 56 km/h, I’m talking about a wobbling 187-ish hours, spread over 20 weeks ca. Long story short, I believe I spent around 10 hours per week in a car until May.

What did I do to make time pass by?
And what did I learn in the process?

Digital content worth mentioning (all free of charge)

If you know me, you’d also know I love Sardinia. Literally love. We spent the whole month of December ’21 in there.

The first highlight of my 2022 tour has been indeed the audiobook of Cenere (Ashes) by Sardinia’s most famous writer — and Nobel Prize Laureate from 1900 something — Grazia Deledda.
A compelling story of maternal love, perdition, éducation sentimental and social aspirations in the rough rural world of the island at the beginning of the XX century. The voice of Paola Pitagora did accompany me for the first few weeks of ’22. Adjusting to Dutch life after a month in Ogliastra seemed attainable via the podcast (it is not, though).

Long live RaiRadio3, the national public radio’s cultural broadcaster.

After the stories of Adnan Sayed, Bowe Bergdahl, John B. McLemore and of the rotten judicial system of Cleveland, Serial went for a story based in the UK.

The Trojan Horse Affair recollects in an extended format the nefarious effects an anonymous letter had on several schools in Birmingham. A rather obscure letter changed the perception and narrative about Muslim schools, linking them more often than not to the risk of Islamic terrorism. The two authors embark on the quest to debunk the whole story, starting with the 5 Ws.

I loved the straightforwardness of the reporters, their humor and rapport, I was disgusted by the disingenuous take on the matter by most public officials no matter whether more or less progressive, by the hate campaign it generated. The series created again a mini storm. Listen to it and make up your mind.

Long live Sarah Koenig and the NYTimes.

Living in Berlin in the late 80’s, being a teenager from a family of ’68 parents, the denial and silences that were so common around issues of mental health, the love for music and its ability to bring us to another place in space and time. Mein Freund Floh is a bit of all this.

A journalist goes back in time to the Berlin of his youth and tries to figure out what happened to Floh, one of the most promising musicians of West Berlin right before the Wall fell down and a good friend of his.

It is for German listeners only. Would it be worthy to learn German just for this podcast? No. Although speaking and understanding spoken German is one of the most rewarding things I can think of.

It has been a revelation. The Ezra Klein Show on the NYTimes was suggested to me by the algorithm of Apple’s Podcasts App and by the fact that T. Snyder was one of the guests around the end of February. And there I was, hooked up to it while trying to make sense of the Russian aggression to Ukraine.

A conversation between two persons, talking to each other without haste or malevolence, trying to show the best side of their intellects. From educational approaches in parenthood and N. Chomsky to progressive issues, from the world seen through the lenses of V. Putin to the development of the Good Old Party under Trumpism, I can only recommend to pick an episode and imagine how the world would look like if we were all able to listen more before we started sharing our opinions.

Music I loved playing in the process

When the traffic was intense, the nights rough, the children sick or the work dull, music came to the rescue.

If you play any album of any of the following artists, you’ll make no mistake.
Try to play an album like an adult, though, and not via some AI-generated playlist, OK?

Adrianne Lenker, Big Thief, Toro Y Moi, Damien Jurado, Kings of Convenience, Wovenhand, Mark Lanegan (who passed away at around km 6.000 I’d say), Helène Grimaud, Gidon Kremer, Daniel Barenboim, Villagers, Abdullah Ibrahim, Fleet Foxes, The Smile.

Things I thought about

  • The privilege of living in the same urban area as your best friends (which I do not have anymore)
  • How to replicate or phantom the curiosity of a toddler into a professional
  • How different life in Berlin is has been and will hopefully be
  • How to educate a bilingual child in a relaxed manner
  • How to find time and swim again amid travel times, working hours and family
  • How to find time to read more and watch less videos on YouTube

Last updated on June 20 2022

--

--

Marco Baldan

Dedicated feed of apparently unrelated interests. Migration, dataviz, music, swimming, EU, Social impact. Tweets in EN, GER & IT. Retweet's no endorsment 2+2=5