Down in Holland, aka the Netherlands; how to fit in & act like you belong!

October 23, 2017

It helps to have the typical physique, (to be tall with a big nose), but there’s more to it to fit in. If you want to come across as a true Dutchie you’ve got to act like you belong. You’ve got to own it. You’ve got to know your stuff.

Dutchies love to go boating.
Holland is a water country and Dutchies love to go boating.

To read up on a little bit of history wouldn’t hurt, but there’s just too much of it really. After all, the European continent and Holland, aka the Netherlands, has had countless revolutions and wars for the last so many centuries. So, let’s not go there.

Just jot down that Holland’s national color is orange and that its soccer team (like the rest of the country) has forgotten most of the lines of the national anthem. The team tries hard to mumble or sing along, but you can tell it’s not the real deal. I don’t think this means we do not care about our beloved 16,000 sq mi (41,000 sq km) country, but we are definitely not as patriotic as let’s say, China, the US, or France.

This also showcases itself in our army where there’s, for one, a lack of good ammunition. Our soldiers train without ammo and shout “bang-bang” to, sort of, create the same effect.

I love Amsterdam.

Lining up at the Anne Frank House.

The Van Gogh Museum.

Downtown Amsterdam.
Each year millions of visitors flock to Holland’s capital, Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, of our 18 tanks only 3 are combat-ready. This of course doesn’t bring forth highly motivated grunts. It’s also interesting to see the number of officers. Our 42,000 strong all-volunteer military has no less than 71 generals and 354 colonels. And they’re not cheap either. A general can earn up to €130,000; a colonel up to 100,000.

Down in Holland, (with its 17 million citizens), it also seems to pay off to go after ATMs. Last year alone 79 ATMs were blown to pieces with dynamite or flammable gas. You can imagine the damage this causes to the surrounding areas, including residential neighborhoods. And yet, the phenomenon continues. Our law enforcement agencies seem to be utterly clueless.

Police on horseback.
Dutch police patrolling on horseback, which is only done in the bigger cities.

Besides the police being understaffed, in a democracy like the Netherlands it’s hard to dig up sufficient evidence to make an arrest. When I was seventeen, for instance, I was once pulled over on my moped. It happened on my way to school. I wasn’t speeding or anything, but after some additional testing they found out that my engine capacity exceeded the legal limit. Hence, I got a €100 ticket.

The thing is, though, that the officer wrote down the wrong street name. In order words, I never had to pay the fine. That’s the law in the Netherlands. They would never have been able to make a case.

Shoplifting is in the same boat. The store owner can wrestle you down and wait for the police to pick you up, but what are they going to do? It’s a €181 fine nowadays, but what if you simply don’t have this kind of money or are a non-registered “tourist?” 🙂 Right … so after a mug shot you’re out again.

You can smoke anything.

Freedom of expression.

Exhibition of Chinese artist.
Anything goes in the Netherlands!

It’s all pretty laid-back. And it’s not per se always a bad thing, but the bad guys do seem to make full use of it. Being a mobile bandit is a fad these days. Did you know by the way that each year hundreds of thousands of bikes are stolen in Holland? What a number eh. The only way to prevent this is to basically use more hardened steel locks than the bicycle next to yours – three is a good numbers nowadays.

What you should also be aware of is that Dutchies can be very straight-forward. I once had this “nutcake encounter” on a train to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and this suit guy, seeing my enormous 30-kg suitcase occupying an entire seat, blurted out something like, “Did you buy two tickets or what?” And he then gave me this weird stare. It was on a full train and there was no other place for me to store my luggage. Not even underneath the seats.

So of course I stared back with this “WTF-dude” look … till he realized that he wasn’t getting the seat and squeezed in somewhere else. You’ve got to stand your ground.

Lots of cows in the Netherlands.

Windmills are lovely.
Holland is one of the largest agricultural producers in the world.

Every time I hear the Dutch national anthem, which is not that often considering my nomadic lifestyle, I do feel my heart beat faster. You can take me out of Holland, but you can’t take Holland out of me. The Dutch are a critical bunch, but that’s part of it. That’s who we are. If you want to fit in and belong, you’ve got to – from time to time – bitch and whine. Of course, the Netherlands is a wonderful country; it just needs to be fine-tuned.


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