Stories from Afar & Up Close

It's about time

You know you have been in Lebanon for too long when… - You are happy that during a thunderstorm the rain only comes in through the walls and is not dripping from the ceiling - You ask for bread with dinner – even when the dinner is pasta with tomato-sauce - You wonder why the car in front of you doesn’t pass the slow one in front of him – he can easily squeeze himself between the truck and the sidewalk on the right! - You are no longer able to formulate a sentence consisting of one language only – little bits of French and Arabic show up in everything you say - You assume the phrase ‘oh I’m fine, nothing’s happening’ means no fighting has taken place and no bombs have exploded recently - You catch yourself saying ‘we’ when you try to explain crazy Lebanese habits to tourists

But you know you are still European when… - Your first thought, when seeing people burning tires during a demonstration, is ‘but… but… the black smoke is bad for the environment!’ - You hesitate to shake out the table cloth onto the street because you worry that the breadcrumbs and the like will dirty the sidewalk - You actually get upset when a co-worker promised to have something done and hasn’t… 3 days after the deadline - ‘I invite you for dinner’ means just that, not that you will pay for the whole evening

And you know you are still Dutch when…

- You expect a koekje every time you order coffee or tea in a café - You assume you will meet someone around 11am when you had agreed to go for a coffee, at 3pm for a tea, or at 7ish for a dinner date – rather than any random time during the day or night, for any of these things - Your friend is coming over and you ask her to bring drop, Calvé pindakaas, peperkoek, stroopwafels, and the Saturday edition of de Volkskrant.