Which was the exact day I became a ‘Nederlander’ ? The day I got my Dutch passport or the day I let kapper Hu give me a haircut? A passport looks like a little book. The kind of thing that changes when one changes passports is that one doesn’t any more have to stand and shiver in line in December on the footpath outside the British Embassy in Amsterdam. All for the sake of a visa. These days, Dutch passport in hand, I also don’t have to stand in a separate line from my Dutch family in airports, and be asked separate questions. Besides, I’ve saved some money on visas. These I consider convenient truths. It was kapper Hu who started the questions of identity rolling. When she had finished with me, one acquaintance asked ‘ Voel je jij een beetje Nederlander gewoorden?’. Another asked, ‘ En wat vinden ze van je nieuwe kapsel in India, dan’? The questions surprised me. Hair, cut above the neck keeps one quite cool in forty-five degrees centigrade. My short hair brought me closer to feeling like a heel gewoon Punjabi, urban woman from New Delhi than anything I ever did, wore or was.
Kapper Who? (Full text)