The Netherlands from my eyes! 👀

I came from a tropical city, Mumbai. When I first entered Schiphol, the cold wind blew me and that was when my heart said: “Welcome to Holland!” I came to The Netherlands on the 1st of July, 2021. It was summer, but even the summer wind would give me chills 🥶and the sun would never go down. After the summer was quickly gone, came the chilly winter where I didn’t expect the sun🌞 to vanish so soon every day and I saw snow for the first time in my life. When the country “The Netherlands” is mentioned, people around the world recognise it as Amsterdam, but The Netherlands is way more than just Amsterdam. ☝

I came here to live with my Dutch partner whose roots are in Dordrecht, so my life took a 360-degree change 🌀from Mumbai to Dordrecht. Dordrecht is called the historical spot of South Holland and its architecture,🏰 the mindset of the people and even the way of working was from the historical times. In the beginning, I was only speaking English because of lack of courage to speak in Dutch, but unlike other huge cities in The Netherlands there were very few people in Dordrecht who could understand and speak English. At first, I hesitated going for simple groceries 😑thinking what if they don’t understand me. After learning the language and starting to speak “een beetje Nederlands”,👻 everyone could only have more respect for me. But when one sees the tall Dutch people with their bright blue eyes, 😍one would find all different kinds of them; some are really crazy than one would ever think and some are very amazingly subtle.
The weather here changes literally every 10 to 15 minutes in a day. But one can say that the people here are also exactly like their weather. They can have multiple personalities in one day.😪
They can be as warm as their “stamppot” or they can be as cold as a “toetje”.

So while exploring The Netherlands, I saw that it can be as busy as Mumbai in Amsterdam 🏍🛺and as quiet as a curfew in Mumbai ̶ which are normal days in Dordrecht 🤫(i.e. not a single person seen for hours). There are huge sky high buildings in Den Haag 🌆and, on the other hand beautiful small houses 🏕in small villages across the landscape. And in every centre of a village, one can see a beautiful church.It is said that opposite to every church one may always find a bar. Now, that was weird and funny to see! 🍻🥃

The most surprising thing was to see that there are more old people bicycling 👵👴🚲throughout the cities than youngsters. And even if you sit behind the most expensive desk as a minister 👳‍♂️or stand behind the windows as a prostitute, you will still get the same respect as a tax payer of the country.💰💶 The one who works has way more respect regardless of whatever the work is, than a jobless enjoying social welfare.

The quality of life is on a very high level. A plethora of supermarkets and each of them competing with each other to deliver the best quality of meat, cheese, milk and everything, 🍗🧀🍼literally everything and one can never be disappointed paying in euros for the quality in return. The biggest challenge I faced was dealing with euros. We constantly keep calculating the exchange rate 🤔in our mind. Here I saw so many different kinds of meat, cheese, chocolates, 🍫fresh vegetables 🥔🍅🍆and many more things which induced me to always tell my partner: “You guys are spoiled.” 🙈
In Mumbai, I always maintained a distance with my neighbours but here, it is said that you should be more close to your neighbours than your friends. “Liever een goede buur, dan een verre vriend!”☝ Neighbours are like a second family here. They know more about us then our own extended families ever would. There are many atheists, but I see a huge crowd in the church every “zondag”.🛐 Like every country has their pros and cons, The Netherlands too has its own bright and dark sides. Never in my life I saw so many types of taxes: road tax, motor tax, 🚗if you own a business then half of your income should be paid in tax. 😭

The Netherlands is one of the highest tax paying countries in the world, but if you see the brighter side, all the tax paid comes back to you at your old age🧓 as social welfare. From health 🩺 to car to your own house, everything has its own insurance. Even if you break your simple reading glasses, 🕶 they are insured too. 😲 Money provision is all given in totality but most of the old people are left alone in the old age homes so that they are taken care of. People here usually don’t take their old parents home😞 because privacy to them is of utmost importance. Many old people die a lonely death in The Netherlands, I feel. ☹ Money can’t buy everything ̶ neither love ❤nor affection, at least what is most needed during the old age and like my Dutch man 😘would say, 👇

“Met een handjevol mensen in een land onder zeeniveau verwelkomen wij alle culturen ☪☸en gedachtegoed. Hier zijn de armen niet minder dan de rijken en als een open boek, 📖met de gordijnen open en met hard en slim samenwerken,🤝 kom je in Nederland tot de conclusie dat alles mogelijk is. 💪Met mooie verhalen zoals, een jongen👨‍🦱 die zijn vinger in een gat in de dijk had gestopt en daarmee zoveel mensen had gered en zo de held 🦸‍♂️van het land was geworden, zijn we trots op ons landschap, onze gerechten 🍛en onze tradities. De wereld mag ons “kaaskoppen” noemen. Met ‘Wat de boer niet kent, eet hij niet’ 🧑‍🌾 en ‘Doe maar gewoon, dan doe je al gek genoeg’🤩en met ‘Wie A zegt, moet ook B zeggen’, 🙄weten wij onderhand wel dat de aanhouder wint. Terwijl God 🙏de aarde 🌍 heeft gemaakt, niet god, maar een handjevol mensen met voldoende doorzettingsvermogen Nederland hebben gemaakt. Naast de windmolens, klompen,🥾bloemen 💐🌻vind je warme mensen 🧸die jou zullen begroeten, waar zelfs in de korte koude donkere dagen van de winter, altijd een lichtje brandt.” 🧨– George van Lankeren

That’s how from The Netherlands it became my Netherlands; my small beautiful land and my place to live. 🤗Of course you crave for your own country, but this country has its own charm to make you feel like home.☺🏡 – Heena Chichkar van Lankeren

Richa Gujarathi

Richa Gujarathi

The Dutch Door®

We are recommended by the Dutch Consulate and Embassy in India and affiliated with Marijanne Joshi Polderman from Dutchable Chennai and Thomas van Berckel from Dutch Roof Consultancy (GMAB) Bangalore. We are, however, not affiliated with any other language institutes in Pune.