Touch down in the land of Delfts Blue in the middle of an Indian Summer as I felt it was time to touch base again with the country of my birth and creatures called family and friends. After having left the country for almost a decade I feel like a tourist at home or at home as a tourist. I speak the language, I know my way around- sort of- but when it comes to culture, which is ever evolving, Lowlands culture has been slipping through my fingers for several years and the grasp is ever loosening. I immediately felt lost in cultural translation when I sat down in café I used to frequent fairly regularly back in the days to meet Moona in a few hours time. I ordered a caffe latte, which in Dutch we call ‘coffee wrong’. When my coffee was served in the tiniest of coffee glasses and I witnessed a group at another table drinking something that looked pretty similar to a ‘coffee wrong’ in a more decent sized glass I asked the waiter if he ran out of large glasses. He informed me that I had been served a standard ‘coffee wrong’ glass and that ‘the others’ were drinking a ‘latte macchiato’. “A what?!” I asked. I know what a latte is, I know what a macchiato is and a latte macchiato does not make sense to me. The waiter explained to me in a slightly amusing-how-come-you-don’t-know-this-woman manner that a latte macchiato contains more coffee and more milk. While thanking him for the information I realised it’s just a larger-sized ‘coffee wrong’ with a fancy name. In the following days I learnt that this latte macchiato businesses has been the latest coffee fad. We have an old concept, we give it a fancy new name that makes no sense but sounds nice and everyone is buying into it.
Besides rather small drinks sizes in cafés and bars drinking and eating out has become rather expensive especially with a rising euro rate compared to good ol’ sterling. And I get what the Americans, among others, were always whining about: Service is often inefficient and pretty average at best. No wonder my sister never leaves a tip.
But while reconnecting with Lowlands café culture, the weather gods were with us and I enjoyed fabulous quality herbs in Moona’s fabulous crib overlooking the canal. Then there was pleasant family time in my home town of Noviomagum, catching up with girlfriends and o yeah, some deadlines to meet.
I had planned to make that week a working holiday. Catch up with my reading and research and progressing with the execution of my master plans. Although I did some work the to-do list has not been ticked off, which is okay. I’ve only been able to meet up with a few people, but touching base is about quality rather than quantity. I believe my heart to be in London Town and I don’t like Lowlands Country as it is now. There have been some events in the past 10 years that have hardened and polarised society considerably and it is most definitely no longer the model country I used to brag about in the early days of the last decade. Despite being a proud Dutchie in London Town I don’t feel part of Dutchness when I am in Lowlands Country. It is a rather odd sensation. Country of birth, mother tongue, family and old friends. There is only a tiny bit of sea between that and my adopted city and history seems to be repeating itself in reverse. It no longer seems British or London culture I (still) need to get used to, it’s that culture I left behind that seems foreign. I was always considered a foreigner in Lowlands Country. It seems that I have finally become one.