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Dutch Tolerance and Indian Expats In Amstelveen

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Indian Expats In Amstelveen all aboard the Bombay Express

Amstelveen is a wonderful place! Echt leuk! In fact, it’s so nice that if the Shallow Man meets an early death, probably due to being hit by a cyclist sexting instead of watching the road, they can scatter my ashes in the Amstelveen shopping center, which is the finest IN THE WORLD!

Believe it or not, Amstelveen is home to the highest percentage of expats per 10,000 residents in the Netherlands. 7% of its residents are expats compared to Amsterdam where the figure is 4%.  The largest expat group living there is from Japan, followed by Indians.

Now with such a diverse group of people living side by side with the Dutch, who are of course famous for their tolerance, you’d expect Amstelveen to be just one happy melting pot. Sadly, this is not the case. Which brings me to the subject of today’s post, Dutch tolerance and Indian expats in Amstelveen.

The number of Indian expats in Amstelveen

A message from an Indian expat

They say that ignorance is bliss and in some cases, it is definitely true. I received the following message from an Indian expat living in Amstelveen.

Conflict resolution in Amstelveen

Dear Shallow Man, I am a fan of your helpful articles as an expat in Netherlands. I am writing this message to you hoping some help. I am facing some serious trouble from 2014 onwards. We moved to an apartment in Amstelveen and unfortunately got an old Dutch lady as our neighbor. She has trouble with people coming from other countries and staying over here. Hence, at minimum chance, she keeps on writing abusive letters about how “nasty and disturbing” our native (Indian) cooking smell is, and asks us to “leave her land”. Every time she sees us, she starts shouting abusive words. Even the other neighbours living in this apartment find her letters abusive and discriminatory, but she never stops. My wife and me are really tired of bearing this abuse and disturbance every alternate day. If you know any good legal service or complaint cell who can resolve this once and for all, that would be really helpful!

 

My response

Hi, I’m so sorry to hear this. What you need to do is keep all the letters she sends you and then file a complaint with the Police. Racial abuse is illegal here, and if you can show them all the letters they’ll have to take action. It’s disgusting that you have to put up with this. I’m really sorry.

The expat responded that he’d discuss this with the local police. I didn’t hear anything from him for awhile until yesterday when….

Dear Shallow Man, I received the attached letter from my neighbour..along with a scanned copy of a paper cutting..’Dutch tolerance’

 

Several of his neighbors (not the VVE, as reported earlier) signed a message with a scanned article about the infamous “western cooking only” incident.  In addition was this wonderful helpful and positive message below.

Indian Expat in Amstelveen hate message
Lekker tolerant!!!
Indian Expats shocked by Dutch discrimination
The tram 5 is called the Bombay Express?

Don’t criticise people that cook sprouts!

The authors of the message had obviously read some of the social media discussions about the western cooking only incident and in their message leapt to the defense of boiled sprout lovers everywhere.

The joy of sprouts

indian expat in Amstelveen letter

 

“Don’t start about “the smell of sprouts”. Not a single sprout lover anywhere begins cooking them first thing in the morning and lets them cook for most of the day!! There are Indian expats that often start cooking first thing in the morning and the stink spreads and goes on often until the evening!!!!!

Sadly this is not an isolated incident

Being from the UK, where Chicken Tikka Masala is the most popular meal, the smell of Indian food wouldn’t bother me in the slightest.  I can understand how in a country where mashed potatoes and sausages have almost religious significance, that the smell of food cooked with seasoning might offend. However, is the message above from his neighbors the best approach for conflict resolution?  I’m also reliably told by other Indian people living in Amstelveen that racist abuse from Dutch neighbors is something that happens a lot. Including one parent whose child was described as “uncivilized” for doing nothing more than walking up a flight of stairs.

Indian Expat Crying
I thought the Netherlands was supposed to be tolerant?

 

The reader who sent me this message has complained to the Police but considering that friends of mine recently had their van stolen and were told that it wasn’t a priority and they were too busy to do anything about it, I don’t really believe that the Police will do much about racist abuse from neighbors. Especially in a country that continually denies that racism can even occur here.

Get creative

I’m looking forward to the usual creative excuses that will be used to justify this behavior, join the discussion on my Facebook page

 

No sprout lovers were hurt during the writing of this post

Until next time, expats are here to stay, you’d better get used to it.

About Simon Woolcot

Infamous blogger, annoyance and self confessed Shallow Man . Simon is a British expat who has lived in Amsterdam for over 11 years, and due to Brexit may soon be applying for asylum. 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

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  • Trania

    As a resident in Amstelveen (born and raised), I am so sorry to hear about this. Please know we are not all like the idiots that wrote the letter, or the nasty neighbour. I do not deny the existence of racism – I know it happens, but I hope you can find comfort in knowing there are friendlier people out there.

    I agree that food odors should not bother your neighbours. And I know that Indian food can be smelled more easily due to the spices used. However, asking your neighbours to use a cooking hood should be done politely and racism is never an excuse.

    I sincerely hope that the person who wrote to this blog will find a kinder tide. Please know that there are people in Amstelveen who are very unlike your neighbour!