Verloren in de vertaling

Who’s the douche now?

Look at the bottle on the right. Assuming you don’t know Dutch, tell me what you think this is. Body lotion right? Creamy, luxurious body lotion that you want to wrap around your body after a hot water bath. That’s precisely what I did, sat on the bed and began massaging it into my hands and legs. It felt sticky, kind of weird, but I figured every new cream takes some getting used to. Until it started to dry up on my skin, then I knew something was up. I called Akshay and asked him to translate the words on the bottle- Lait De Douche/ Douche Creme. Turns out douche is the Dutch word for bath, it’s also American slang for what I felt like when I spent hours in the shower washing all that creme off! A complete douchebag.
I then walked to the bakkerij counter in Albert Heijn. Here’s what happened.
AH Guy: Hi
Me: Hi there! Do you have any cake?
AH Guy: What’s that?
Me: Cake?? Birthday cake?
AH Guy: I’m sorry, but what is that?
Me: <enacting a birthday party, cutting cake with my fingers, blowing candles, mumbling happy birthday…>
AH Guy <flailing arms helplessly>
Me: Come on! <I start singing loudly ‘Happy birthday to you…. Happy birthday to you…”>
At this point another AH salesperson came running to help me out before psycho alerts went off. He also explained that cake is always named after its main ingredient. So, a chocolate cake is a chocoladecake – one word, pronounced all together. An apple cake is an appeltaart, a black forest cake is a zwarte woud taart and so on. I still have to take Dutch lessons (starting this July) in order to corroborate this piece of intel, but at least it explains why I looked totally belachelijik (ref: google translate please). 
about how they don’t import games such as Pictionary and Monopoly in English but Scrabble should be the 
Scrabble! It was Dutch scrabble, not scrabble for the English speaking Dutch. The words were customised
according to Dutch, a language that uses a 

according to Dutch, a language that uses a lot of Z! 

But that was only faux pas number one. There were many bigger, more expensive ones to come. For instance, the time I made a big bowl of pasta for a get together of some Indians. We had to throw the whole lot two bites into dinner, because the ingredients included beef (rundvlees). 
Then there was the day when I tried to buy to cake for Akshay’s birthday. I wasn’t sure where to buy it, and shops with Bakkerij (bakery) signs said they only keep fresh breads and pastries. So, I asked a guy at a superstore where I could get some cake. “What?” he said. “Cake, you know, birthday cake?” “What’s that? Kek?” I gave up.
AH Guy <still flailing arms helplessly>
If there’s one thing one would learn from these experiences, it’s that Dutch words are very different from English.  
So different, that no sane person will go out and buy a Dutch Scrabble! But no, I headed to Speldorado, a toy 
and game store in Delft to buy some board games last week. There, I had a long chat with the shopkeeper
same, because Dutch uses the same alphabet. You’d think so right? I mean, for someone like Akshay, who 
can recite the rules of Scrabble in his sleep, a Dutch instruction manual would hardly be a problem. 
So, I picked up the game and headed home, planning all those precious ‘Z’ words in my head. For the 3rd time in
history, Akshay got the letter Z, he also got a J and an X. I opened the game, scored some 10 odd points and 
he came up with Zoo. As he was gloating about his score, I notice something bizarre. The Z did not have 
10 points, it had only 4.
The horror! The horror! Bewildered, baffled and utterly annoyed (hence the opening photo), Akshay began 
looking at the other letters, even wore world brightening Oranje sunglasses to help make sense of this crazy


Looks like regular Scrabble doesn’t it?
Do the numbers match?
Not these, they don’t. 5 points for C? Cool!


  1. hahahah!!! loved it!!! maybe invest in a dutch-english dictionary…

  2. Thanks Diya! I will definitely need one once I start those classes. Did I tell you,I wanted to buy a Lonely Planet for Netherlands and most shops only has Dutch copies. Face palm!

  3. # most shops only had Dutch copies

  4. Mainu rang de basanti !

  5. Aww Tini Di! Too cool! Loved it! Maybe I should do a project on Information Design there! 😛

  6. Thank you Happy. That is most valuable feedback. I think you mean sarangi though

  7. You absolutely must. By then I should enough Dutch to help you out. At least I can ensure that you don't reach the wrong classroom, or the washroom instead.

  8. Sorry, I meant narangi

  9. schrijven over uw verticale huis, dat is wijn eronder.

  10. We should play sometime. Faulty scoring or not. I've done the douchey too 🙂 The very same experience with the same bloody bottle. It took me a while before I understood this and that was a long day.

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