Whining, the Dutch are good at it. Syrians also hear, but we only complain about food. We love our stomach and can endlessly talk about where the food was good, and where not. Dutch people complain about everything. The favorite subject is the weather.
‘It’s always cold, we have to spend weeks on holiday to the sun to recharge!’ Now it was hot all summer and everyone complained after all. Our grass is burning! The animals have a hard time and the leaves are already falling from the trees! On such a hot day I walked across the street with a newly purchased fan under my arm. People in the street clung to me in despair: “Where did you get them? Are there any more? ” It reminded me of the times in Syria that there was no bread. When you saw someone walking in the street with bread, you rushed over to ask where it came from.
Work is also a favorite complaint topic. The boss is not nice, the colleagues are not collegial and the wages too little. In Syria we have an expression that we use when someone nags. Because a tailor makes your clothes exactly for you, we say to someone who whines: ‘I’ll go tailor-made for you.’ What we actually say: life does not always exactly meet your needs and is not always ‘tailored’ for you.
The good news is: if the Dutch suffer from something, they think up solutions. It is not for nothing that this country is so good with water. Another three times a summer and the Netherlands becomes a heat expert. One very large curtain across the Netherlands? I wonder what you are coming with.
A day in Amsterdam made me a bit panicky. Is the capital a look into the future? Is what I see now in Amsterdam in ten years across the country? In that case I am not on the right track.
I walked into a store with a bag full of new clothes. Just before that, I had bought the wrong size. I did not have the receipt, so I wanted to explain that I had accidentally taken too large a size and would like to exchange it. I started my story at the checkout. “No Dutch,” she said. “Oh,” I said, “is there someone else who speaks Dutch?” “No”, the woman said.
I turned around and asked customers behind me if anyone could speak Dutch. They looked at me questioningly. No, no one understood me. Because I can hardly speak English, I started to portray everything. That the clothes are very big, but I am very small. That I had said at checkout: “A coupon does not have to be.” “The woman looked at me with a sigh, but had understood me by now. Exchange was allowed.
I went for a drink outside. There was a note on the window of the cafe: the café was looking for staff. Requirements: very good command of the English language and possibly knowledge of Dutch. The courage sank even further in my shoes. Is this how it will soon be everywhere in the Netherlands? Or is Arnhem the only city where Dutch is the basic language? I already see myself trapped in Arnhem. Everywhere is work, but I can not go anywhere because I do not speak English. ‘It starts with language’, is shown on all folders of my integration. True, but they should have told me which language.