All in a day’s work

If you’re a curious sort of person, then there’s a lot to learn from everyday life in a multicultural society. I don’t mean rambling anthropological/sociological/otherlogical observations; I’m thinking more slice-of-life lessons. Take for example everything I learnt in a perfectly average day like today.
4am: Hail storm. 
Lesson number 1: My house is sturdy
When hail comes smack against a wooden roof, the sound is so loud it drowns out all the glasses of beer gushing in your blood stream. Also, despite all the creaking and groaning, these ancient Dutch roofs can withstand all that hammering hail. (God, please don’t let this post jinx my roof.) [1]
11.15am: En route to work
Lesson number 2: The wind gods hate you
Forget Murphy, in Oranje land there’s another contrary force to reckon with. The wind. This morning, I was running late for work (a part-time telemarketing thing for a cool start-up at Yes!Delft) and decided to cycle faster than my usual grandma pace. Unfortunately, all my huffing and puffing was utterly disproportionate to my speed. I huffed and puffed more, but the bike refused to play ball. How could it, when every micro inch meant chopping through Zephyr (who was driving at a million kilometres per hour).
12.45pm: When in Rome… 
Lesson number 3: Do as the Romans
As part of the telemarketing gig, we’ve been calling organisations all over Europe for the past few weeks. Today, there were a few calls to be made to Italy. That’s when I learnt that St. Ambrose wasn’t kidding when he (allegedly) said, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. My name is Damini, it’s not exceptionally tough phonetically, but sometimes people stress on the wrong vowels. Which is fine, the end result is usually in the same ball park. After a few calls to Italy, however, I’ve begun to think it is perhaps a tricky name. Everyone that answered my call assumed I said “Dominique” and got totally baffled when I tried to correct them. Domino? Damien? Aaaah Dominique! 
Yes. From now on, when I call Italy, I’m Dominique. I quite like the name actually. 
3pm: Now we’re calling Eastern Europe
Lesson number 4: Yes, you can pronounce “S” “C” and “Z” together
I’ve always thought my family name was among the most unpronounceable names ever; right up there with Mister Mxyzptlk of Superman fame. But making phone calls to Eastern Europe has opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at the English alphabet. Take for instance some of these names: Zsigmond, Czestochowa, Dzierzynski, Bydgoszcz. My advice, master the art of mumbling, it’s better than attempting to pronounce them. This afternoon I called a company in Hungary called Asszisztencia. I skipped all the Zs and said “Assistencia”. But no, the lady on the phone corrected me and pronounced each Z and each S coherently.
Her: “Asszisztencia”
Me: “Assistenzia”
Her: Ae-ess-ess-za-za…. Asszisztencia.
Me: Thank you. I’ll just leave a message. It’s Dominique from the Netherlands…
4pm: Still calling
Lesson number 5: To hell with honesty
Now this probably has more to do with telemarketing than being in Europe, but it’s an interesting lesson, so here goes. As a journalist, I’m very used to curt “No comments” or wary interviewees. But a telemarketer sees a whole new avatar of this rude rude world. One lady I spoke to said she wasn’t interested in our company. Fair enough, thank you very much. No, she wasn’t done. She said she was so disinterested that she didn’t even bother to look at our brochure. Okay, no harm done. “No, to be honest, I actually tore it up and threw it away.”
What? I’m sorry, but telling me that is not honesty. That’s called being a bitch.
6pm: En route home
Lesson number 6: The wind still hates you
While I was working, I’d convinced myself that the ride home would be smoother. That the wind would practically carry me home. But Shakespeare had it right – the winter wind is treacherous. Guess who walked her bike home because the damn wind was too strong?
10pm. A day like today must end at Locus Publicus
Lesson number 6: Nonsense is historic too
Some of the most interesting people in Delft are the bartenders. It may be because the most interesting places are pubs, but that might just be coincidental. Tonight we met the fascinating Mr Name Withheld. Withheld overheard us debate a particular big word and came over to say that big words were something of a hobby with him. So began the geek version of arm wrestling; My Big Word Is Bigger Than Yours. After hours of words I will not waste word count on, we reached the cuter ones such as gobbledegook and gibberish. At which point one of the finest words in the English language made its entrance – poppycock! Withheld informed us that this fine word traces its roots back to the Dutch phrase Pappe Kaak. Literally translated it means “Soft Shit”.
1am: Good night, please
Lesson number 7: Shut up and go to sleep.

[1] It has just been brought to my attention that there was no hail last night, just a lot of rain. I guess that beer was still gushing away.
Oh poppycock!


  1. So how exactly do they pronounce our surname, dominique? oh also, the poppycock is hilarious!

  2. If you think hail on a roof sounds bad, I have a skylight. Hail is positively deafeningAlso, as a telemarketer I'd have thought you were used to abuse :)PS: you may need to fix the endnote…

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