Stories from Afar & Up Close

A Perfect Multicultural Encounter

The other day I was in the HEMA (a very Dutch store) to print some pictures. As I walked towards one of the two machines, I saw that the other one was occupied by what I call a typical Islamic Fundie. You probably know the type: dress, high-water pants, sandals even when it’s freezing, a fluffy brushed-out beard and a traditional cap on the head. It’s the type that usually looks at me as if I’m a despicable cockroach when I pass on my bike. There are quite a few of them in the neighborhood, and they don’t usually answer my hellos or return my smiles. I stared intentionally at the picture-printing-machine, trying not to accidentally look him in the eye. Unfortunately, just as I was about to put my USB-stick in the slot, my eyes wandered and crossed his. He smiled. Confused, I looked at his face. He was still smiling. ‘Excuse me’, he said, ‘do you know if the standard size for pictures is 9x13 or 10x15cms?’ ‘Uh, 10x15, I think.’ ‘Ok. Thank you!’ Glad to see my own prejudice blown to pieces, I set out to print my pictures.

An older woman, looking like she had never touched anything non-Dutch in her life, approached the not-Fundie. ‘Excuse me’, she said, ‘do you know if these candies are halal? I’m trying to find out if I can give them to my grandchildren.’ ‘They contain gelatin, so they might be halal but maybe not.’ ‘So what shall I do?’ ‘It’s up to you, but I always say, when in doubt, don’t do it.’ ‘Ok. Thank you!’ Glad to see all prejudice blown to pieces, I went home.


And with that, we’re off to Iran! Will be back end of May… might have some prejudice-related stories to share then!