Sunday, 13 January 2013

The New Normal

You know you are becoming Dutch when all the things that seemed so different become quite normal. So how do you know when you are really at home in Utrecht? 
You don’t bother to see whether it’s raining or how cold it is before deciding whether to go out; you just deal with it.
You heart is no longer in your mouth when cycling on a narrow street shared with pedestrians, cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles and hoards of other cyclists, not to mention construction zones; you just move over, go around, go with the flow… and ping that bell!
You stop arriving everywhere 30 minutes early because you realize that if you leave five minutes beforehand you will still be on time.
You get seriously annoyed when those always-timely trains arrive even 5 minutes late. After all, the Dutch love to complain!
You find yourself speaking Dutch with that upper octave lilt, especially when saying “Doei!”
You find that you actually like bitterballen.
You expect the beer to be both very good and very cheap.
You leave the Netherlands and think everyone must have shrunk a foot.  
You leave the Netherlands and astonish people by laying three kisses on them.
You no longer marvel at the second lives of old churches as apartments or bars.
When paying for items, you understand that “pin” is a verb and has nothing to do with needles.
You drink tap water because it is just as good as bottled water – and a lot cheaper!
When ordering water in restaurants, you specify still or sparkling. And you are no longer surprised that iced tea is always sparkling.
You reckon a clean public bathroom is worth the 30 cents you must pay to use it.
You expect your coffee to be fantastic without paying Starbucks prices, which suddenly seem pretty exorbitant.
You no longer are surprised to see cats in stores or dogs in restaurants.
You just start climbing several stories on those incredibly steep stairs without wondering if there is an elevator.
You realize fries are much better with mayo than with catsup.
You are accustomed to being on a first-name basis with everyone, including your teachers and doctors.
You think pedicures are a waste of time and money as your feet won’t see the light of day anyway.
You own and actually use an agenda.
The numbered bike routes start making sense.
You no longer expect streets to keep the same names as they progress.  
You realize the only crime you really need to worry about can be prevented or at least rendered less likely with a good bike lock.
You no longer squeal, ooh and point at every old windmill you see. Although, you never stop smiling at them!
You appreciate frankness without equating it with rudeness.
However, one thing you never, ever, stop noticing and being delighted with is the fact that every cup of coffee or tea is always served with a cookie or piece of chocolate!

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