wtorek, 8 stycznia 2013

Dutchman's Anatomy: the national pride

I asked lately Maurice for some help with preparing materials to write about the dikes and regulating the water level by dutch people (I'm still gonna write about it, just give me time).
-Could you tell me a little bit more about the dikes? You told me once, that you had to learn at school how the dike is build, right? - I asked politely.
- You know what, how about I send you tomorrow an e-mail when I have a break at work. I'll write you all the most interesting names and later you can google them - he offered, getting quite enthusiastic about my interest in such a dutch issue.
- "Hmm... wait a minute... most interesting names? Did he understand what I actually ment when asking for informations?" - I thought, but before I could protest Maurice was already sleeping.

The next day I got the e-mail. It contained the names of great projects, which were/are supposed to protect the Netherlands from floods, the biggest and most important dikes, dams, polders and the lakes created by the mentioned before. Indeed... he did not understand what I ment. I didn't want to write the whole screed about the Dutch people protecting their country from floods with a detailed history. I was rather thinking about describing the dikes as a characteristic part of the dutch landscape, include some short anecdote and add few pictures of high water level/ a road running on the top of the dike. However Maurice's enthusiasm and a national pride ran far beyond my expectations. Maybe we went a little bit too far ;)

While I was reading his e-mail I realised where I have made a mistake. What did you expect you silly woman?! You asked about something extremaly dutch. A construction inspiring the national pride! How could you not expect him to get so excited, if you were planning to tell the world about the dutch dikes? And you know why? Because Dutch people are very proud of their own country and its achivements. I always thought that a national pride is something big and characteristic to Polish people... and then I moved to the Netherlands.

I have to admit, that they really have many reasons to be proud. Beautiful Amsterdam, Keukenhof, Utrecht, The Hague (and many other cities), the colorful tulips well known all over the world, an effective international trade with years of history, a prosperous economy, tolerance and open-minded people (though is this whole tolerance actually still that tolerant?), van Gogh, Rembrandt, Erasmus of Rotterdam. I could go like this all night. However I'm still quite surprised about the pride of some aspects I wouldn't personally call as ethical or reputable. Neverthless an avarage Dutchman would tell (quite proudly) a foreigner about coffee shops, red light districts (yes, more then one, since the one in Amsterdam is not the only existing) and legal prostitution, the old colonial times and "Big Brother" or "The Voice of Holland".. The funny part is, the more enthusiastic are the ones, who don't even really used those services/drugs. Why than? As Maurice explains, it's a sign of development and progress of civilization. I'd be rather guessing "something that distinguishes our country from the others", but I'll let him win this time.  Mainly because I don't feel like argue, especially since making a discussion is a national dutch sport (preferably if as a result you admit the Dutch person right).

So my dear Holland, be proud! (however don't go with it too far, please...) ;)

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