In times that one part of the Dutch society is totally obsessed with having an identity but at the same time isn’t able to pin down this identity and the other part of society is denying the existence of one common Dutch identity (see article), it is always nice to see how foreign people look at ‘us’. Haluk is one of the Turkish bloggers who participated in the Belief in Democracy project and he wanted to share his personal experience with the Dutch:
I was in Amsterdam on a business trip a few years before. At the breakfast lounge of my hotel, I opened my handy (you may call it -cellular or mobile phone) in order to send small messages to my wife and to my two kids. Since Turkish Government puts high indirect taxes on handy communication; we try to communicate with short messages, one message for one intercity call. It is normally a little expensive when you are abroad, anyhow much cheaper compared to direct voice communication. I sent messages to all three, my wife and two kids, “I am now in Amsterdam, I am well, everything OK. Take care”. Prior to closing the handy, I left it on the breakfast table for a while.
It rang, as it was too important. A friend of mine, calling from home, for some information. Hence he called for more information , I let him to speak. When we were about to close the conversation, I declared that I was in Amsterdam, at the heartland of European business environment, expecting him to ask some small bottle of wine to bring. Murphy is always right. He asked me to buy a “caine (walking stick)” preferably a special Dutch caine, since he collects caines of all kinds from everywhere.
I said, “OK” as if it was very easy to buy. Then I realized. Where shall I buy a special caine in Amsterdam? The waiters in the restaurant helped me. We went to the nearest supermarket and looked for one caine. We found a special caine, almost heavy-duty, suitable for mountaineering, or tracking big, hard, strong, wooden, with a metal ending bottom. 9 Euros.
Wonderful to scare wild dogs in tracking. I should have bought also one for myself, I thought later. Anyhow, how am I going to carry this long, huge caine? My luggage is small. So I had to carry at my hand to everywhere. I kept it in the hotel room or in storage spaces in bus, taxi or train all the way to Shiphol Airport.
On Saturday morning, I checked out in my Hotel in the center of Amsterdam. I walked to the bus stop to catch the shuttle bus to Schiphol Airport. Caine on my left hand, handbag on the other, small bag at my shoulder, I entered Schiphol airport. I had a caine, that means that I had somewhat disability in somewhere, legs, knees, feet.
All passengers gave their place to me. I found myself at the front row. Beautiful young lady in Check-in counter smiled to me, and she upgraded my flying status to “Business”. My next seat was kept empty. She gave me a voucher to go to the Business lounge. She put extra miles to my frequent flier card. They reserved my next flight from Istanbul to Ankara again in Business. They advised me to purchase my domestic flight ticket in Istanbul since local money is cheaper.
They showed me the elevator. I got elevator and went to the business lounge on the first floor. Ladies in charge in the business lounge, they brought me sandwiches. I consumed best ever malt Scotch whisky with snacks. I reviewed Financial Times, Washington Post, Frankfurter Algemaine Zeitung, plus Newsweek, Economist.
Some of them I left there, so of them I took with me. I felt an extra ordinary charisma, while bended over my caine how and why all these people, especially beautiful young girls were all trying to please me.
What is happening? I am not Kevin Costner, neither Robert de Niro, nor Bill Clinton. Why me? I felt like 20 year old, all 30 years demolished. Anyhow it was time to board the plane. I went to the last x-ray machine.
At the x-ray machine, the man in charge objected to my caine since it has a metal ending.
It could be used as a weapon if required. They took my caine, packed separately and gave me a voucher.
All my charisma ended at that point.
I bought unnecessary items in Duty-free. She cheated me. They didn’t warn me the cheaper products. I could not take second bottle of dry red wine in the lunch service. I could not get latest local newspaper. Coffee was served cold. My handbag was squeezed at upper deck.
I wish all my best wishes for people with disability. I understand that people with disability in Amsterdam are special and lucky people. They are in a caring society; all system is designed to help them. I hope that we get similar caring in all other societies globally.