Piet de Groots Holland F.A.Q.
Travelers who turn right at Great Britain come to a soggy, wet bit of planet called "Holland", "the Netherlands" or "Shouldn't we have turned left?".
This FAQ will, in the words of its author, "inform you on how to treat the Dutch, how to avoid becoming one, the do's, dont's and the "Oh my God, can they really do that's" that you are likely to encounter in this strangest of places known to man".
HTTTD has been around for years, different versions can be found in Usenet news groups and various websites, eventually it even had its own website. Once upon a time, we may have sent a lot of traffic to that website, which may have overloaded the server. As a result, the site was discontinued. To make amends, we're very pleased to provide a permanent home for the prodigal FAQ here.
Mr De Groot has kindly revived the original site and the complete & latest version of HTTTD can be found here. But please, don't go there, you may overload the server!
Warning from P. de Groot: Mistakes in the correct use of the English language are not my fault. You just did not read correctly. And by the way, how is your writing in Dutch, eh?
1. Why can´t I use the word "Dutch" when I am in Holland?
The word "Dutch" reminds a Hollander of the word "Duits" which is a word for Germans and other things he doesn´t like.
2. Which Du... Hollandse words should I learn before coming to Holland?
None. Never try to speak Hollandse, not even if you have lived in Holland for more than five years. Not only will it give you a splitting headache but also no Hollander will have any idea what you are trying to say. Foreigners are expected to speak English or gibberish. Speaking gibberish, they are an easy prey for pickpockets because they can´t make a decent report to the police. Every Hollander speaks English. Upon occasion, you will overhear people using words which sound like Hollands but actually make some sense to you. These people will be British or German tourists.
3. What is "drop"?
Drop is a kind of liquorice that only Hollanders can eat. It can be recognized by its colour: black. The taste is a cross between printer ink (blue) and earwax. Hollanders absolutely love it and eat kilos of the vile stuff. There is a nationwide conspiracy to look at the faces of foreigners who are tricked into believing it is edible.
4. Where can I buy those cute wooden shoes?
Just about everywhere but please don´t, they´ll look absolutely silly on you. Which is of course the main reason for selling them to you in the first place. A Hollander himself wouldn't want to be found dead in them.
5. Shall I be safe behind the dikes.
Yes, we haven´t had a major flood in ...oh, two weeks. No honest, you´ll be quite safe. A word of caution: Do not try to make holes in dikes. Behaviour like that is not only frowned upon but in certain cases can get you stoned to death with wooden shoes by an angry mob. You may feel free however to stick a finger in any dike you like. It'll get you a few good laughs from the natives.
6. I can´t seem to reason with any of the Hollanders, why is that?
A Hollander is always right and he knows it. With this in the back of your mind it is easy to deal with most of them. If ever you get into an argument with a Hollander, tell him that he is absolutely right and that you see the error of your ways. This will drive him absolutely crazy: Since you are a foreigner you can't be right. You agree with him. Therefore he also cannot be right. Impossible! He is a Hollander. But... why... he... At this point you may want to stand back and watch him try to strangle himself with a tulip.
7. Do I have to show an interest in tulips, windmills wooden shoes or cheese?
No that is not necessary. Every Hollander knows that you came for the softdrugs or the Amsterdam red light district, the Walletjes. Both are available in a large quantity and are easy to find. Ask any Hollander age six or older. I´d like to point out that the windmills and wooden shoes prove a desire for, or dependency on, tourism. Natives in Holland put up with tourists, even welcome tourists, but do not *need* tourists and will explain this at length.
8. Do you have any tips for visiting a Hollandse soccer game?
Avoid fans of soccer games at all cost. Soccer in Holland is merely an excuse used for bashing in the brains of just about everyone else, including yours, after the game is won...or lost...or if it is a draw. It is also very unwise to stand near a policeman during these festivities.
9. Are the Hollandse police any good?
The police play an important role in the Hollandse social life because they are used for throwing things at. If you feel like hitting someone or something, use a policeman. No Hollander will pay any attention if you decide to hit or even maim a policeman or kick him hard in the groin. Policemen represent authority and no Hollander recognizes any authority higher than himself. You may also notice that a lot of Hollandse policemen are in fact foreigners tricked into taking the job.
10. Is it true that Hollanders don´t like to spend money?
Definitely! They'd sooner cut off their own ear than spend an extra cent. A Hollander will become a friend for life if you give him something for free. (Note: Social diseases are an exception) The story that copper wire is an invention of two Hollanders fighting over a found cent is absolutely true.
11. Aren´t Hollanders bothered by the small size of their country?
Oh no, not at all. Indeed, Holland is very small. There is even a rumour that Holland is put inside during rainstorms. Not true, but that is mainly because it rains about 365 days each year. (This might also explain those wooden shoes: They float.) Hollanders are proud of their country. They will grab every opportunity to point out to you that the nation has accomplished great things, despite of it being so small.
12. How do I insult a Hollander?
If you wish to insult a Hollander -and sooner or later you will- simply tell him you don't think he is a pacifist. Now immediately start running for your life! He'll want to prove to you that he is a peace loving person and he won't stop proving this until your intestines are scattered all over the floor.
13. Are Hollanders really tolerant?
No, they are not. They simply make too much money from the sale of soft- and hard-drugs, Malaysian women, weapons and pornography to foreigners to let a good opportunity for making huge profits go by.
14. How is the public transportation in Holland?
Because of its small size, the main form of public transportation in Holland is a bike. Feel free to take any bike of which you are able to pick the lock. (An art learned by Hollandse children before the age of 3) However, don't expect your own bike to be where you left it three minutes earlier. The hunting season for bikes is open 365 days a year. Have fun.
15. What is this small vicious looking blade I find at every meal?
It is called a "kaasschaaf" and is used for taking very thin (the see-through kind) slices of the cheese. Yes, it is indeed an invention made by a Hollander. Never try to cut cheese with a knife, you'll make an utter fool of yourself.
16. What is this "poldermodel" I keep hearing about?
At the time of this writing, the Hollandse economy is doing quite well. The Hollanders say that this is the result of extensive negotiating between parties like the unions, the employers and the government. They even have a name for this: The poldermodel. Foreigners are made to believe that this poldermodel is the key to a healthy economy and if others should follow this poldermodel, their economy's will also improve dramatically. This is of course utter nonsense. The Hollandse economy is completely dependent on the German economy. You can immediately see the problem, no Hollander will ever admit to this. So we have invented a Hollandse reason for our wealth.
17. What is a "patatje met"?
Hollanders like to drown fried potato's in litres of mayonnaise and put it in small paper bags. This is called "een patatje met". The best "patatje met" can be bought in Rotterdam at Bram Ladage. (Tell them I sent you) One of these bags can sustain life over an indefinite period. Not everyone agrees if it is the sort of life worth living. Some foreigners however are reported to have actually liked eating it. 18. What is with these coffee shops I seem to come across in every street? O dear.. There is a fast and guaranteed way of making a complete fool of yourself in Holland: Enter a coffee shop and ask for a cappuccino. Coffee shops do not -remember this- do not sell coffee. You can however get a good number of other stimulating things there.
19. What is a "Fries"?
A Fries (pronounced FREECE) is a semi-detached sort of Hollander, living in the north of the country in a province all for himself. He is fond of frozen water, Beerenburg (which is a form of euthanasia with alcohol) and continuously pointing out to non-Fries Hollanders that they are -indeed- not Fries. The rest of the Hollanders look upon this behaviour with the good natured ambivalent feelings that parents have for an obstinate child.
20. What books should I read about Holland?
None, this FAQ is more than enough. However I can recommend you take these books with you if you come to Holland: The complete works of William Shakespeare or a leather-bound volume of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (the 1913 copy: Fr to He). In my experience these two books have just about the right weight for clubbing a pushy drug dealer or pimp on the head without leaving any lasting scars. After hitting you may want to drop the book you were carrying at the moment for a more speedy retreat. Bring plenty of books.
21. Where can I hire a car?
Do not bother to hire one. Not only can you steal more bikes than you will need but car-traffic in Holland is not something you will enjoy. In the rest of the world traffic jams are measured in miles or kilometres, Hollandse traffic jams are measured in weeks. As a matter of fact, the more persistent traffic-jams are well worth a touristic visit. The sight of starving people in an expensive Mercedes can be quite uplifting if you are of a philosophic nature. You may want to bring some pieces of bread with you to throw through open car windows. The resulting fights are often worth watching.
22. I´d like to take my mother-in-law to Holland, can I?
Well...yes of course, but why would .. Ah, I see! Contrary to popular belief, you may not bring your mother-in-law to Holland for do-it-yourself euthanasia. Hollandse euthanasia laws may be the most liberal on earth but tourists are warned not to take these matters into their own hands.
24. Why are there so many churches in Holland?
Whether you are Catholic, Muslim or worshipper of Urrrgl, god of all honest politicians, in Holland you are likely to run into a church, temple or oak-tree-and-virgin of your liking. Hollanders are supposed to be very tolerant of other believes, ways of life and religious convictions. They are not. The only reason for there being so many different churches, sects and cults is the fact that Hollanders disagree on just about anything. A Hollander is always right (see item 6) and anyone who thinks different than him can jolly well bugger off and start his own church.
25. So, is Holland a republic or a monarchy?
Holland is a kingdom. (There is a difference here) It has no king but a queen and her husband is no king but a prince. The queen doesn't rule the country --- well, not much anyway --- but she is very good at opening bridges, roads and visiting other countries. She is also very decorative at state banquets. Her son, the crown prince, will be king as soon as she stops queening. The queens husband was not a king but a prince but the crown prince´s wife will be a queen as soon as he is a king. On April the 30th it's Queen's Day, which is not the birthday of the queen, but the birthday of princess Juliana, the queen's mother (who used to be the queen). Confused? Well, so are we.
26. How come there are so many famous Hollandse painters?
Most Hollandse painters get to be famous only after they have died. That is a very sensible arrangement from the publics point of view. Not only do you get large quantities of paintings -a man has got to eat, right?- but it also makes a nice investment for art-lovers. The painters themselves do not share this view at all but are unable to do anything about it. In at least one case the frustration has led to self-mutilation involving an ear.
27. Is the Hollandse healthcare any good?
Do not get sick in Holland. Over the last ten years, the famous Hollandse healthcare has been privatised. These days some operations, like open heart surgery, have a waiting list of more than six months. The doctors don't think that is a problem because, they say, half of the patient never even bother to show up after six months. Some Hollandse patients who have become desperate, move to a country like Mozambique, Iraq or Pakistan where healthcare is infinitely better and waiting lists much shorter.
28. Is it O.K. to drink Hollandse tapwater?
Yes, Hollandse tapwater is completely safe to drink. This is quite remarkable considering that most drinking water comes from polluted rivers like the Rhine. Plans to improve the quality of the river water, so that fish like salmon will return to Hollandse rivers to spawn, can count on strong resistance from the Nederlanders. They don't like the idea of animals having sex in their drinking water.
29. Should I worry about high crime-rates in Holland?
No problems there, Holland has a very low crime index. The reason for this is not that Hollanders are not as criminal as others but in Holland fewer things are considered a crime. This not only generates interesting new forms of income but it also saves on the workload of the police and our justice department. The only crime that is severely punished is speeding in your car. Exceeding the speed limit with only a few kilometres per hour is good for a considerable speeding ticket.
30. Do Hollanders have nationalistic feelings?
Some do. They will point out to you that Holland has finished second in almost every war it has fought. Further more, the Hollandse national football team has won more medals for runner-up than any other nation. Even if Hollanders failed to win more Olympic Gold Medals than any other nation, they at least have the satisfaction of knowing they supplied the drugs to the countries who did. Which is enough to make one proud to be a Hollander.
Greetings from Holland and have a nice day.