The Hague, Netherlands
As mentioned previously, The Hague is not known for a specific cuisine because it is considered an international city with a plethora of different cuisines to choose from. In fact, The Hague is home to one of the largest multicultural markets in Europe: De Haagse Markt (The Hague Market). The Hague Market is open four days a week and is visited by about 35,000 people per week. Shopping at the two most popular supermarkets here, Jumbo and Albert Heijn, can get pricey, so many visit The Hague Market to get their vegetables and other foods for a reasonable price. The Hague Market is said to reflect the multicultural population of the city because the selection of foods is so diverse. For me, The Hague Market brought back memories of shopping in a bazaar in India—it was crowded and sellers were yelling prices out loud to grab a passerby’s attention. The market is not only known for selling food but also clothes, footwear, and even electronics.
Speaking of clothes, I had a chance to go Indian dress shopping for the wedding I was invited to this past week. I did not know that The Hague has many Indian dress and food shops, so it was not difficult to prepare for the wedding I was kindly invited to. I even had a chance to practice my Hindi while I was shopping for an outfit (as many of the shops were run by Hindus)! The lady at the shop picked out a beautiful royal blue and gold dress with gold-colored bangles and earrings for me to wear.
My first Indian wedding in the Netherlands could not have been more fun. We arrived at the event around 4pm and did not leave until 1am (did not think about how early I had to get up for work the next morning). There were two separate halls at the venue, one where the bride and groom did the wedding rituals, and the other hall was where the guests could dance and eat. The wedding rituals took over two hours. While the groom and bride were taking their saat pheras—seven vows of a Hindu marriage—I was dancing in heels for a little over five hours. When Indians start dancing, they just cannot stop! Also, the food was delicious. They served everything you could possibly think of—from lamb, chicken, samosas, dal, and so many Indian sweets. The venue was magically decorated too. I had an unbelievable time at the wedding and am so grateful to the family for inviting me.
The one thing that is hard to get used to here is the time when all the shops close. Most shops close at 5 or 6pm, except for a couple of grocery places near me (thank goodness). I normally wait until the weekend or Thursday to go shopping since I get off work late and most shops are closed by then. Why Thursday? Because Thursday is the one day where most of the shops stay open until late—like 9 or 10pm. I do not know why they picked Thursday and not Friday, but TGIT is what I say when it is Thursday. The city center is the busiest on Thursdays, and a bit busier now because of all the summer sales going on. I spend a lot of time with friends near the city center because there is always something going on there in terms of music and food.
I cannot believe my time here is almost up. I still have lots more I want to see and do before heading back! That is all for now. Doei (learned another way to say bye in Dutch)!