Dutch Language: How Difficult Thou Art

The Dutch language is a tough language for many. Even though Suriname was a colony terrorized, traumatized, and robbed by of The Netherlands until 1975, there is still a sizeable group of people who do not speak it. I have the privilege of doing work I love; it is such a blessing. Now that we are dealing with that horrible virus, I have to work from home. It is too risky for us to go to the interior now. But this has always been my dream: Having the possibility to work from home & doing work I love. Things are going great, and I am thankful.

I am working on a project with another cultural anthropologist. She has to write a customer satisfaction research report for our local (and only) water supply company, the Suriname Waterleiding Maatschappij (S.W.M). What is my role in this? Well, it is to call up customers and ask them questions. It is a survey.

We have to use the Dutch language when we talk to customers, but boy! Do I wish we could use Sranan Tongo.

There are a bunch of people calling customers, and I had to call people in Nickerie. In case you did not know, 90% of the population in Nickerie is Hindustan. I do not want to generalize, but it is common knowledge that they do not speak Dutch very well. They prefer their own language over Dutch, which is fine. One should be proud of their heritage. But the problem arises when you are talking to someone of a different ethnic & cultural background.

Some calls went smoothly. Even with a few grammatical errors here and there, I understood them perfectly. I have no idea what happened on the last day of the project, because oh my! Most of the people I called understood little to no Dutch.

Me: “Good afternoon, ma’am, my name is Tiara, I work for S.W.M…” and I give her the whole spiel. I end it with, “… would you be willing to take part?”
Woman: “You are S.W.M.? I home alone now, but always not, haa. My grandson here.”

Me: “Could I speak to your grandson, ma’am?”
Woman: “He go store.”
Me: “Alright, thank you for your time, ma’am. Enjoy your day.” I could tell I would not communicate with her unless I spoke Sarnami.

Woman: “He go store, but I home alone.”
Me: “OK, ma’am, thank you for your time.”
Woman: “Haa, my grandson gone.”
Me: “all right, bye-bye now.”
Woman: “Oh yes, good-bye.”

FYI, ‘haa’ means yes in Sarnami… I think.

And this was the recurring theme with the next ten to eleven customers I called.

Then there were two interesting couples. Though one of the numbers I called was registered to a female, a male answered. Before he handed her the phone he thoroughly questioned me why I was calling his wife. After I repeated it three times, he finally gave his wife HER phone. This is one of my boundaries: MY PHONE IS MY PHONE! Never answer it (unless I give you permission), do not even touch it! Especially if I know my boyfriend is suspicious of everyone who messages or calls me (who is of the opposite sex).

When we completely trust each other and can communicate openly about things without getting worked up, I will not have an issue with this. But still… it is my phone, so you will need my permission to answer it. If I am not near my phone when it rings, just let it ring. I will see the missed call and call the person back at my earliest convenience.

Trust is important and I want to be in a healthy relationship where we trust one another.

This goes both ways: I do not touch my boyfriend his phone because it is not my style. I am also not one to go through someone his or her phone, though I did in the past when I was insecure. If he is hiding something, I will find it out if I am meant to. But I will not go digging for dirt. 

Image Source – Keep your fucking hands off my phone.

Now there is a second couple who I think do not trust one another. I dialed the number, no one answered, so I went to the next person on the list. Less than two hours later, the person calls me back: it was a gentleman. We talked, I explained who I was and why I called, then we hung up.

Fast forward five minutes later, that same number shows up on my display again, but this time… it is a woman. She asks me who I am, why I called, what I wanted. I had to explain it at least twice. That woman does not trust the man she is with. She grilled me like a detective. Wow… that was exhausting and sad.

Ladies & gents, THIS is one reason I choose to be single: If I have to go to these lengths to convince myself my boyfriend or husband is not lying to me, then we need not be together. Since last year, I have unsubscribed from unnecessary DRAMA.

It was an interesting day…


Tiara Ray

I am grateful & blessed to have the life I live. (Soon to be) Traditionally published & self-published author in her mid-thirties. I unsuccessfully tried changing this picture numerous times, so I just left it. I wish you lots of love & may you get what you need. <3


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