…and some have Orange thrust upon them….

I don’t know what is going to happen on the 30th of April. I hear 800,000 people are going to be coming into my neighbourhood. Apparently,the to be king and queen and their three daughters are planning to sail into Amsterdam, smiling and waving at the multitudes.

This is not the first time I feel like I’m having Orange thrust upon me.

Within a few months of my residence in Amsterdam, the to be king got married to the to be queen in my (then) neighbourhood. Streets were shut off and all sorts of regulations came into force. Someone showed me a photo of the princess (then), and I was shocked. She was the latest member of the House of Orange.

‘Where is the gold’? I asked. The answer I got was that kings, queens, princes and princesses here don’t wear gold. Why? I thought. Who is ever going to know they are kings, queens, princes and princesses?

Over the years, I’ve come to know that they ride around on bicycles and look just like you and I. But they aren’t. Because when they got married, or get crowned, the city of Amsterdam (you and I) paid for their wedding and are we are paying for their coronation and for their royal life style.

R0018097

Orange gets thrust upon me through the towel I use to wipe my private parts. Our bank sends us these towels as  gifts.

Orange gets thrust upon me when someone from my family goes to Albert Heijn, spends 15 Euros and get these ‘free’ fuzzy royal creatures with crowns to take home (probably made in sweat shops in China, India or Bangladesh).

R0018105

It gets thrust upon me through a tin someone gave me with the prince and princess on it, in which I’ve stored sugar.

R0018108

Orange is the colour of the followers of that leader in Mumbai who sent his goons to drag Muslim families out of their homes and slaughter them in my neighbourhood.

It gets thrust upon me through hate filled speeches and actions. We call it ‘saffron politics’ there. Orange gets thrust upon me through murderers who kill in the name of god.

Orange gets thrust upon me through personalities who have a way of intruding into my world through mesmerized multitudes right outside my doorstep.

Why do people support the House of Orange in Holland? People I love and respect. People who are good and humane and wonderful? When I ask them, I get answers like this:

  • Oh, but it’s not so bad as in the UK. We’re not so busy with royalty here.
  • Maybe because royalty gives a sense of continuity to this land.
  • Oh, but is better to have a king and/or queen than a useless head of state like a president.

I tell them I think it’s like living in the middle ages and it’s hard to understand why a people that are so progressive in so many ways need,  support and pay for royals while cutting down on art, culture, education, international relations and social security. I know I come close to hurting their feelings, so I drop the subject, because, like I said, they are good people.

I try to listen with attention to the excited chatter about the song specially written for the to be king, how it was rejected, how it was accepted back, how the to-be king has no comments to make on it.

I guess Orange gets thrust upon me as a way of trying to understand what goes into the definition of nationhood – there, far away in India and here, behind the dykes.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

4 Responses to “…and some have Orange thrust upon them….”

  1. sid Says:

    You have quite the bleak outlook of the dutch monarchy. First of comparing the mindless saffron politics of mumbai with the dutch monarchy is unjust and borders on insanity. Nobody thrusts orange monarchy on you and me here, nobody forces you to recognize them. About the money spent on monarchs, well its something similar that would have to be spent on a president. In India on the other hand you are forced to accept life , there is no alternative option like in case of shiv sena. You can hardly call india a meaningful democracy if you have lived there. You and i both know it is a dictatorship where the dictator is not a single person but the society, culture, religion , the political class. Am I wrong?

  2. nandini Says:

    Hello Sid,
    Thanks for your comment. I don’t mean to compare saffron politic to the Dutch monarchy. Like you, I beleive I can ignore the House of Orange but not the horror of saffron politics. Nobody forces the monarchy on me but I don’t really feel like supporting their extravagant life-style in any way. Presidents don’t have that much personal wealth. I find the whole idea medieval. I don’t see why Museums, arts, culture , community projects, international relations and education are less important than an exceedibly rich family who represent little else than glamour and glitz. Besides, whatever happens to ‘niveleiring’ (leveliing out) when it comes to royalty? Not sure what you mean by India not being a meaningful democracy. It’s a comparitively young democracy, and yes it’s full of problems and challenges. However, there is much to be valued in the Indian constitution though we may not see that in the reality. You sound ashamed of Indian culture. I’m pround of it, just like I’m proud of Dutch culture. They both have their unique strengths and ‘niveleiring’ or trying to distribute wealth for everyone’s benefit happens to be one thing that makes the Dutch system good. So why pay for this stinking rich monarchy who don’t even have to pay taxes? What exactly do they represent?

  3. sid Says:

    Thanks for the response, it is always nice to have a meaningful discussion. Well although i do agree that monarchy’s personal wealth is quite dubious in a equal dutch society, however i believe they are one of the last remaining factors that can unify the dutch nation, that is is to me maybe worth the cost. You guessed right, I am quite ashamed of my Indian heritage, and i say it with a heavy heart. I have seen too many instances of govt corruption, vote bank politics, and selfish public nature to have any faith in that country anymore. I have seem my parents ruin their financial stability having been caught up in the govt bureaucracy. I have seen undeserving people beat me at academics since they were born in a lower caste, not a fault of my doing. And i don’t dare to come out as an atheist in India, as everyone around me would freak out and say blasphemy. Although i can see why you are proud of our culture, to me it will always feel crushing, stifling my freedoms to choose, debate and be frank. 🙂

  4. nandini Says:

    Hello again Sid,
    Everything you mention as a reason to be ashamed of India, I understand to be absolutely true. Like you, I’ve been at the receiving end of some of the cruelty that that society is made up of. And still you and I are luckier than the millions who are mired in misery, poverty, fear, injustice and violence with little hope and many promises in that imperfect system. However, it’s home for me, just like Holland is and that is exactly why I can be critica of both. If I have a child who is crippled, I won’t love it less. I will, if I can, help it to walk and talk and overcome it’s disabilities. Coming to the House of Orange, if that is what it is going to take to unify the Dutch nation, then we have to worry. How can this royal family, living high above everyone else, in a bubble do what it takes to unify us? I’m curious. When my Dutch father in law and other men in my husband’s family were being threatened by the Nazis and taken prisoners, the Queen of Holland fled to Canada to keep safe and returned to claim her place when the danger was gone. is that a sign of solidarity? The royalty here is like the caste/class system of India where some are more equal than others.

Leave a Reply