There are many ways my life has been enriched by marrying a foreign man. The first few years together were a particularly interesting learning curve. And now that we have been together for just over 14 years the surprises are scattered more sparsely in our relationship, but every now and then my Dutch husband still throws me a curve ball and I add another piece of ‘new knowledge’ to my cultural database.
So, here are 20 things I have learnt as a result of meeting my Dutch husband:
1. Oboema Sesetokoe
I was informed very early on, in the first few weeks of my time in the Netherlands, that when I wash my hair and then blow dry it whilst brushing it incessantly, I look like ‘de man die bakt‘ – Oboema Sesetokoe (who comes in with the branches over his shoulders in the video below). Yes, my husband has been a charmer since day one.
I reluctantly learned that pancakes constitute dinner even if they are slobbered in only icing sugar, white sugar and syrup. In my book, that was pudding. I now stand corrected courtesy of the Dutch influence in my life.
If something is on offer at the supermarket we need it. This is a fact regardless of whether we actually do need it or not. If something free is offered (like buy one get one free, or an actual handout) then we take it, in fact we take lots. After all, Nederlanders houden van gratis.
4. Cycling Achievements
Three kids, a crate of beer and a six foot long wooden plank balanced on a bike is not flinch worthy.
There is a a perfect sauce to accompany every meal. And that is quite something coming from a Brit.
There are worse things in life than paying to use a public toilet, except paying to use a dirty, badly stocked public toilet.
7. Fry It
Almost anything that could be deemed inedible elsewhere can be deep fried and made into a lekker snack in the Netherlands, for which there is always the perfect sauce accompaniment (see number 5).
10. Who Needs Customer Service?
12. Two Wheeled Hierarchy
There’s a very clear pecking order on the cycle paths where two wheeled vehicles are involved.
13. Politicians Can Be Young and Female
Politicians don’t have to be over the age of sixty, grey haired and male.
Festive celebrations can be controversial and a political correctness disaster zone, but still be dear to the nation’s heart.
15. It’s a Tradition to Throw Things at Kids
16. Not Such a Happy Birthday
Birthday celebrations can be terrifying. Or excruciating. It takes time to get used to Dutch birthday celebrations. And it takes time to expand your chair collection.
17. Warme Chocolade Melk
Hot chocolate is not just a drink. Warme chocolade melk met slagroom sprinkled with flakes of chocolate on a cold, icy winter’s day is actually a party in a cup.
Paracetamol is the cure for everything, for at least two days.
Flowers are not just for Valentine’s Day and saying sorry.
20. Multicultural Couples Need to Work Harder At It
A couple that does not share the same cultural upbringing, or the same mother tongue, needs to work hard to understand each other and each others thought processes – but the pay off is worth every obstacle faced.