Café Holland and What the Country is all About!

While enjoying a lovely cup of Mokk-a’s Cafe Holland this morning it gave me an           idea…why not write a bit about Holland instead of updating you on the price of coffee.

“15 Miljoen Mensen” by Fluitsma en van Tijn is a song I heard shortly after moving to the Netherlands. It talks matter-of-factly about the Dutch culture, and it’s title translates to “15 Million People”, which was at that time [circa 1996] the population of the Netherlands. The population as of July 2007 was officially 16, 570,613. Given you can fit the Netherlands 16 times into the size of the state of Texas, one can then understand better why here things are built so small and on top of each other. The song talkes about how the Dutch seem to have their own opinion for everything, and how even though authority is not treated with seriousness, everyone respects one another. Except for their own neighbor and especially when one wonders what the neighbor does to afford his rent/house payment, his car and other luxuries. It speaks of how the Dutch are able to take care of each other and themselves. No one starves. I had to laughed when I heard the lyric “gordijnen altijd open zijn” [drapes are always open] because one of the first things I noticed when I came to The Netherlands was how even in the evenings the people will leave their shades open.

For the song, I’ve included below both the lyrics in Dutch and the lyrics translated to English. In the English translation there are some notes to help explain better what is being said.

“15 Miljoen Mensen”

Land van 1000 meningen
Het land van nuchterheid
Met z’n allen op het strand
Beschuit bij het ontbijt
Het land waar niemand zich laat gaan
Behalve als we winnen
Dan breekt acuut de passie los
Dan blijft geen mens meer binnen
Het land wars van betutteling
Geen uniform is heilig
Een zoon die noemt z’n vader Piet
Een fiets staat nergens veilig

15 miljoen mensen
Op dat hele kleine stukje aarde
Die schrijf je niet de wetten voor
Die laat je in hun waarde
15 miljoen mensen
Op dat hele kleine stukje aarde
Die moeten niet ‘t keurslijf in
Die laat je in hun waarde

Het land vol groepen van protest
Geen chef die echt de baas is
Gordijnen altijd open zijn
Lunch een broodje kaas is
Het land vol van verdraagzaamheid
Alleen niet voor de buurman
De grote vraag die blijft altijd
Waar betaalt ‘ie nou z’n huur van

‘t Land dat zorgt voor iedereen
Geen hond die van een goot weet
Met nassiballen in de muur
En niemand die droog brood eet

[Refrein nog 2 keer]

And the lyrics in English:

“15 Million People”

Land of 1,000 opinions
The land of soberness [down-to-earth]
All together on the beach [if it is a nice day, everyone and everyone goes to the beach]
Rusk [cracker] with breakfast
The land where nobody lets themself go [emotionally]
Except if we win [example: a sporting event]
Then the passion breaks loose
Then nobody stays inside [and everyone goes out to celebrate the victory]
The land with many rules
No uniform is respected [example: police, military]
A son who calls his dad by his first name
A bicycle isn’t safe anywhere [can be stolen from anywhere]

15 million people
On that small piece of land
You can’t tell them what or what not to do
You leave them in their dignity
15 million people
On that small piece of land
You must not put them in a straight jacket [you can’t hold them down]
You keep them in their dignity

The land full of groups of protesters
No boss is really “the boss” [the boss must behave on the same level as the employees]
Drapes are always open
Lunch is a cheese sandwich
The land full of tolerance [of religion, nationalitiy]
But not for the neighbor
The big question always remains
How does he pay his rent? [“Where is he getting his money from?”]

The land that takes care of everyone
No dog knows a gutter [everyone has substantial means, so not even a dog will starve]
With snacks in an automat [Dutch: automatiek]

[repeat chorus twice]

So maybe you should give Cafe Holland a try also! Let me know how you like it!