corders in the hague

It's like having the Corders round for dinner - except the kids don't smash stuff and Mike doesn't drink all your booze. And when you're bored you can get rid of us with a mouse click rather than having to start tidying up the house.

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Location: The Hague, Netherlands

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


A Dutch radio station reported today that Dutch people are rude. I would put a link to the article in here, but they weren't polite enough to translate it.
They reported this as news, but anybody who has had anything to do with the Dutch for any length of time will probably know what they mean.
I only skimmed the report but it was interesting to see that it was not only foreigners like me who live in the Netherlands who thought the Dutch are rude, it was also Dutch expats living overseas who felt ashamed of their countrymen/women's impoliteness.
Forms of politeness Hollanders haven't quite mastered include, according to this survey, saying thank you, not tossing litter on the street, joining the queue at the end, holding open doors for whoever is walking behind you and offering to help others.
This last one seems a little unfair to the Dutchman who copped a couple of bullets in the gut when he tried to help a woman being beaten up by her boyfriend on a Melbourne street a couple of years ago, but I can relate to some of the others.
I've never really noticed not having doors held open for me, but I have registered surprise bordering on bemusement when I've held doors open for people here.
One of the first culture shocks Irmie had when we got to Sydney was the bizarre, in her eyes, spectacle of people queuing for the bus on Lane Cove road. The commuters were all standing extremely neatly in orderly lines tailing back - sometimes 100 metres or more! _ from the bus stop. Irmie thought it was hilarious. Meanwhile, at Dutch railway stations I often have to fight my way out of trains because of the torrent of people storming to get into the doors before my fellow passengers and I have had a chance to get out.
My fine friend Daniel - as quintessential an English gentleman as you could ever hope to meet - has never forgiven or forgotten the Amsterdam tram driver who, when he very politely told her he didn't have the exact change to buy a ticket replied, "Well, then you have a problem." No offer of help. No suggestion of a solution. Meanwhile, probably 90 percent of the Dutch people on the tram hadn't been polite enough to buy themselves a ticket at all.
The Dutch word Lul, meaning cock, dick, knob etc, is also a favorite in Daniel's household after he heard it shouted at a car by a cyclist in Amsterdam. In defense of Dutch people, I think it may have been me who shouted the expletive at a Dutch driver.
I like to think of the Dutch as blunt and to-the-point. When you ask a Dutch person a question, you get a clear straightforward answer. They don't dress it up or water it down with polite platitudes, they just give you the truth, whether you like it or not. This can come off as impolite until you get used to it. I no longer notice it.
If you want obsequious bowing and scraping, go live in England. Which I read today is turning into the world capital or knife crime. I can see it now: excuse me my dear chap, would you mind awfully if I inserted this blade swiftly between your third and fourth ribs? Thanks awfully.
I called a Dutch etiquette school in The Hague today seeking comment on the survey, but the headmaster Ruud van Natuur's only response was, "go fuck yourself."


Blogger dan said...

Grrr...the number 5 tram driver. She'll be first against the wall come the glorious day.

3:57 AM  
Blogger Hong Kong Merretts said...

That's my kind of etiquette school. Will get you a lot further in life than a well executed curtsy.

2:17 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Looks like your world is about to get a whole lot busier...

2:54 PM  
Blogger cordersinthehague said...

Yeah, Tim. We were supposed to go to France or three weeks' holiday on Saturday but that's on ice until RK turns up here.

12:10 PM  
Blogger Tim & M said...

Ooo bummer. Any chance we'll see you in France in September? We're there for the first three weeks... Would be great to catch up, introduce you to our sleepless hellion and all that. Maybe RK will conspire to make that possible... Meantime, we'll be looking for your byline.

1:57 AM  

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