Interview with an expat


Where do you come from and where do you live in the Netherlands?
I am from Pune, India, and now live in Haarlem, North Holland.

What’s your job/business?
I am a quality assurance engineer for several interactive agencies here and in the US and Canada, working from home.

What was your first time in the Netherlands?
My first trip was to visit with my boyfriend – who is now my husband – about four years ago. We went to Amsterdam, Haarlem and Volendam. Then I came to live here three years ago.

What is the nicest thing about the Netherlands?
Everything works here! The roads and infrastructure are really good here. Also the scenery and landscape is quite beautiful, but I do miss seeing hills.

What’s the worst thing about the Netherlands?
The weather! It can get very cold here and the wind can really be strong. Some days are cold, windy and rainy all at once. Where I come from the weather is not so strong and cold. I am still not accustomed to it!

Do you have Dutch friends?
Yes, a few, mostly through my husband, but it was hard during corona, because we couldn’t see each other much. Now it’s as if we are all getting reacquainted.

What do you like about Dutch people? What don’t you like?
A lot of people don’t care for the Dutch directness, but I appreciate it more now. I like that Dutch generally like most things and are very easy-going people. Of course not everyone is like that, but most Dutch people seem to always find nice things to say about things.

Do you have a favourite restaurant in your city?
For food from home, I like India Palace. They have the most authentic tasting tandori in my opinion. For other food, we really like Delphi for Greek and Centopercento for Italian. They have the best pasta!

Where do you prefer to relax in your city?
We’ve started going outside of Haarlem for day trips to the dunes and the beach. We really like Bloemendaal aan Zee. We live close to Frederikspark, so that’s always a nice place to have a walk.

What’s your favourite Dutch store?
I really love Action, but I always buy more than I intend to! I also like visiting the kringloopwinkels (second-hand store) in Haarlem from time to time.

What do you like to do on the weekend?
We are starting to go out of town more often, like to Zandvoort and Bloemendaal aan Zee. I like to take walks in nature and also to visit some of the nice towns in the Netherlands.

Who is your favourite Dutch person?
My husband! I also like Chantal Janzen, after she hosted the Eurovision song festival.

What would you recommend a visitor to do and see in your city in the Netherlands?
Just walk around! Haarlem is a museum just walking around it. There are a lot of museums and history in the city too. The Corrie ten Boom House is important for people to see. The house was a shelter for Jews during World War 2.

What is your favourite Dutch food? And what Dutch food do you dislike?
I like the fruit and vegetables here in the Netherlands. Everything is so fresh and delicious! I also like bamischijf and nasischijf and Indonesian rijsttafel.

Do you celebrate Dutch holidays? What is your favourite?
Yes, we celebrate all the holidays. I really like Bevrijdingsdag and the ceremony they have on the Dam square.

Where do you like to go out?
During the week we don’t go out much, but on the weekends my husband likes to show me new things. These past months we’ve been visiting the beaches more.

What famous Dutch place should you really go and see?
Hopefully next year people can visit, because the Keukenhof is the most beautiful place. You can’t imagine all the flowers and how many different colors of tulips there! The tulip fields around the Keukenhof are also really beautiful.

Best kept secret in your city?
I think the Corrie ten Boom House is something people miss out on when they come to Haarlem. People also miss out on Haarlem itself, because Amsterdam is so close and people usually go there.

Written by Marla Thomson