czwartek, 26 stycznia 2012

Understanding the Dutch

The weather lately is not very encouraging to go out. It's cold, glomy and raining. With this kind of aura all I want to do is stay home with a good book and cup of hot tea. Speaking of the books, I remembered lately about a fun position I have read just before I moved here. "The Undutchables".

It's a grotesque point of view of an American living in the Netherlands commenting on some of odd behaviors of the citizens of this country. I had a lot of fun reading it, especially that I could already see some of the similarities to Maurice&co behavior.
The chapters in the book focus on dutch oddity in fields of:
  • what is it and who is living in this funny land
  • public transportation (written in times from before the ov-chip kaart, however the furtive observations of a non-dutch person is still very accurate)
  • houses
  • affection to any kind of plants
  • children
  • cinema
  • money and shopping (times of guilders)
  • working attitude
  • phone calls
  • national passions
  • rules of doing shopping (as you can see, money and a way of spending them is a very very important element of Dutch people's lives and their favorite word is "SALE")
  • driving
  • customs 
  • bikes, dikes, flags and fags (kind of national symbols)
  • language
  • food
  • sex 'n drugs and rock 'n roll (another symbols)
Though in some of the fields the Dutch are not so different fromPolish people (like raising kids, rules in the public transport also known as mortal combat, or behavior in the cinema), I still must admit, sometimes it's hard to understand them. And I don't mean the weird language here. In this country there's a rule that everything should be in "a Dutch way". Starting with hectoliters of coffee, extremaly narrow houses with same steep stairs, omnipresent water, bikes and tolerance for all (that is dutch).

Living here now I can see more clear what the author wanted to say. The chapter about the toilets is always on top of my head, everytime I need to use one. Actually this room in our current appartment is still giving me a very weird mix of amusement, astonishment and fear. Why? It's very speciffic... black walls decorated with an amazingly draped spider's webs (I would remove them, but its estimated age indicates the ancient times, plus it fits well  the whole grotesque) and the poster with the scenes from a club/bar toilet. The icing on this redicules cake is the lighting made of huge star-shaped-christmas-ornament light and... mirrored disco ball! I swear, they should be taking commissions for that. I promised my friend I'll post the pictures, but I'm a little bit afraid of my mom's fear reaction against aesthetic and sanitary.

Anyway I recomment the book "The Undutchables" (by Colin White & Laurie Boucke) to anyone who ever had or have something to do with the Dutch and wishes to understand them better. You're not gonna make it, but at least you'll laugh a lot! ;) 

Correction: my beloved one after reading this text immidiately called me worried with the draft I'm trying to smuggle here. So I explain... maybe I didn't put it the right way. Dutch people are not trying to impose anything to anyone. If something isn't "the dutch way" they'll survive it (however it's gonna cost them few sessions with the psychotherapist). I rather ment their way of thinking that everyone should take the Netherlands as an example and act according to their pattern, because it's the best way. Of course you can act your own way,but it's just stupid and waste of time. Acting "the dutch way" goes better for everyone.
The Dutch knows better ;P (yes my dear rodent, sarcasm)

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