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The Dutch Commandments

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After telling his followers about the Stuff Dutch people hate,  the Shallow Man was cast out into the wilderness. For a long time I wandered, until I reached the  highest point in the Netherlands, Vaalserberg otherwise known as Mount Vaals.  I camped there for a couple of nights, when on the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, and an incredibly loud female voice shouted “Shallow Man come to the top of the mountain”. Upon nearing the peak, the female voice said “Shallow Man do not look in my direction,  to which I said “it’s ok, I know better than to look at Dutch women first thing in the morning, it’s usually quite a shock, what can I do for you?”. The loud voice responded, “Shallow Man, you have been chosen to give the Dutch commandments unto the expat community. To your left you will see ten tablets.”

“Tablets? Hold on a minute, I’m not a Dutchman, I can dance without them, and am not planning to visit a festival”.

The voice became even louder. “Not those kind of tablets, look to your left”. To my surprise there were tablets, from Samsung, Acer, and Apple, even from HP. “Return to your expat followers and tell them that Henk and Ingrid, the Gods of the Dutch normen en waarden are not happy with the unintegrated behaviors of many expats in the Netherlands. You are to share these commandments unto them, so that they can change and become more Dutch”.

I was going to ask where Henk was, but of course I knew the answer, even Dutch gods are afraid of their wives, he was probably in the kitchen baking apple tart.  I did ask for more information, but being a Dutch female she only worked ninety minutes a day, and she had to hurry off to attend a yoga class. So as ordered, the Shallow Man has returned from the mountain, with the Dutch commandments.

The things I do for my readers!

Thou Shalt be Koppig (stubborn)

Behave like the Dutch, cling to your point of view and never, ever admit even for a second that the other person might have a point. Shout people down who disagree with you, or if you feel really passionate, issue death threats (from the safety of sitting behind a computer screen, never in person).

stubborn Dutch
How to have a discussion like a Dutch person

Thou Shalt Not Show Empathy

1. To customers

If something goes wrong when dealing with customers, make sure that your number one priority is to explain the rules and processes of your employer. Under no circumstances display any signs that lead your customer to believe that you might give a rats bottom about their problem.  Just keep repeating the rules and regulations, in a pissed off tone of voice as if speaking to a six year old child.  In fact, if you work for a certain famous Dutch airline, you’ll probably be promoted for being so consistently unhelpful.

The flight is delayed and, what do you want me to do about it?
The flight is delayed and, what do you want me to do about it?

2. To the less financially well off

In Amsterdam recently there was a gas explosion where two people were killed and part of a building collapsed. Due to this, many people had to be evacuated. The buildings affected were part of a social housing project, many of the people living in those buildings were “brown skinned Nederlanders”. Many readers of At5, seem to find the plight of people that have lost everything quite amusing. The discussion forum on the site (Dutch) contains many comments about the affected residents being hysterical, and trying to use the tragedy to get better housing. This is how to be Dutch, don’t show any empathy at all.  If the gas explosion had taken place in the Museum quarter or the Pijp, I doubt if the reactions would have been quite so negative and vitriolic.

cynical dutchies
Advice on AT5 to the victims of the diemen gas explosion


Thou Shalt Wear Birkenstocks

As well as wearing sunglasses at every given opportunity, sandals should be worn when the sun is shining. They are comfortable, practical and good value for money. They can be worn to just about every occasion in the Netherlands, to work, to michelin star restaurants, weddings and funerals.

Lekker birkenstocks
comfort and style rolled into one

Thou Shalt Have No Other Gods before Me

You’d better love the Netherlands like Kim Kardashian loves publicity. Not only should you better love living here, make sure that you tell people how grateful you are that they’ve given you the opportunity to live and work in the paradise that some people annoyingly call Holland. There is no better country in the world, and you’d better make damn sure that you keep reminding every Dutch person you meet of that.

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When you get on the tram in the morning and swipe your ov-chipkaart, say to the conductor, “good morning, I just wanted to say how happy I am to still be living here in Holland. I used to live in Zurich which was a medieval hell hole, thank you for saving me”. Even though the Dutch hate you calling it Holland, they’ll be grateful that you clearly know your place.

If you’re in a relationship with a Dutch person, impress the parents by bringing your passport along with you to dinner and setting it on fire. Show them that you want to get the Dutch nationality as soon as possible, alstublieft.

Thou shalt eat childrens food for lunch

Lunchtimes are not for warm food (unless it’s an uitsmijter). There is nothing finer than watching adults eating slices of bread with flakes of chocolate (hagelslag or vlokken) spread on top. This is the cornerstone of a nutritious and healthy diet. If you eat this, then you will be well on your way to becoming Dutch.

Lunch for adults
Lunch for adults

Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery

Where you can be caught. Hop on your bike and cycle into the next village. Be discreet. It’s ok to tell all your friends on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter afterwards though, and preferably post pictures of the event before, during and afterwards. Better still you can be like the belgian ‘artist’ who is having a one night stand with a different man every week as part of an art project. Doe maar effe normaal!

Thou Shalt Wear Sunglasses at Every given Opportunity

Even when the temperature is minus ten outside, if there is a little bit of sun, wear sunglasses. The Dutch are animal lovers, and Dutch women love wearing sunglasses for so long that when they remove them they  look just like Rocky Racoon.

Dutch lady without sunglasses
“Tineke je ziet er leuk uit”

Thou Shalt Avoid Confrontation with Thy Neighbor

If your neighbors have the bloody cheek to make noise after six pm, don’t knock on their door and ask them if they can make love more quietly. Adopt the Dutch method, wait until three am in the morning and leave a note in front of their door. Tell them that the Dutch way is to make love between eleven pm and seven am. Spend the next five years avoiding them if possible.

If you obey all of the commandments provided by Henk and Ingrid, you’ll become so Dutch, that you’ll find yourself requesting stamppot at Michelin Star restaurants, and if you’re female, hunting down men in bars like a US unmanned drone seeking out a target for execution. If you’re male, you’ll be happily taking orders from your Dutch partner, with a smile on your face.  Doe maar!

No raccoons were hurt during the writing of this post



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About Simon Woolcot

Infamous blogger, annoyance and self-confessed Shallow Man. Simon is a British expat who has lived in Amsterdam since 2004. As well as writing this blog, Simon also has a YouTube channel of the same name, writes and directs videos and hosts seminars about life in the Netherlands. He also works as a content marketing and SEO specialist.