Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dutch Dragon Mama

Wherever we live I enjoy making small 'people studies'. How this works is, in a  very random, mostly anecdotal way I look at groups of people in a particular city and then assign them specific characteristics that I think they have. Very personal, impulsive and I am sure largely incorrect I love my people studies!

For example, Chinese women of a certain age and certain class in Hong Kong and Singapore always displayed certain characteristics: exquisitely well groomed (In Malaysia this is taken to the point of caricature. One Chinese woman would do a regular facial that 'lifted off impurities from her skin, making the outer layer of her skin so fine 'it burns if exposed to the slightest bit of sun" my informer let on); expensively dressed even to go to the local park n shop; fussy and obsessive about small things; rude and dismissive to all wait staff anywhere. And so on...


Here in Amsterdam I am fascinated by Dutch women in their late middle age. There is a particular sort of woman I have in mind. She is usually Dutch caucasian, strong looking with powerful arms and legs (actually I don't know how powerful her arms and legs are...I am just assuming they will be powerful with all the years of biking they have done!), singularly unattractive with blonde or steel grey or jet black hair nearly always cut in some severe short style. She will wear make up in disturbingly bright shades and she will sneer or almost sneer easily. She is most often encountered in the 'kassa' of a Hema or Albert Heijn or Jumbo or even some of the post office outlets. There is one example of this woman  at the Station Zuid entrance turnstile, close to the ticket counter (though this one wears no make up). I think of these women as Dutch Dragon Mamas.  They are short with silly foreigners who speak no Dutch; they bark instructions/ insults at you as they bike by -- I have no idea what they say but it could be anything from a reprimand for biking in the wrong direction to not shepherding your kid correctly as she bikes alongside your bakfiets; they give you long confusing directions in rapid-fire Dutch at the said kassa -- one such Dragon Mama at the Groenhof Jumbo keeps sending me back to weigh individual broccolis or fruit and blame it on my performance anxiety, but at such times I can never seem to (a) find the weighing machine or (b) make it work and Dragon Mama is waiting for me back at the check out with raised eyebrow and a flood of angry Dutch!!