Feng-shui or not, that is the question

I hear you, Liza. Breakfast time is no doubt happy hour for Dutch kids. However, I felt like I was transforming into an ant after having typical Dutch breakfast for a week!

In our kitchen cabinet, ‘Hagelslag’, aka chocolate rice is a must. In short, all kinds of sweet spreads make a paradise, and hagelslag brings the whole level up to heaven. Here is the trick I have learned: you may only stop when the bread is completely drowned by chocolate rice. Every true Dutch loves it. My father-in-law, for example, always has ‘beschuit met hagelslag’ (chocolate rice on biscuit rusk) in the morning. When I was surprised at the thick chocolate layer, he said, "Oh, this is fine." The next second, he had a quick look at my jam sandwich and gave me his advice as a professional Dutch breakfast eater, "You need more jam."

My hubby used to say that he didn’t like sweets and I was very much convinced… until we moved to Holland. No wonder he doesn’t like sweet snacks because he has "an ant’s favorite food" every morning. I guess you just cannot believe what guys tell you when they date you, can you?

Besides this breakfast style, there are other Dutch living concepts that confuse me on a daily basis.

It seems to be a fashion that the restroom is usually designed in the entrance of the house. So, when the hosts hear the doorbell ringing literally two doors away, they could take their time to flush the toilet, wash their hands, and then welcome the guests. Not trying to be the hygiene police, yet, this picture keeps bothering me every time we visit people at their homes.

Oh, wait a minute, perhaps that explains exactly why Dutch people kiss each other three times on the cheeks (to improve the air flow?!) instead of shaking hands when they meet. Ah-ha, that must be it!

Another well-known Dutch tradition is to hang a birthday calendar in the restroom, so that everyone can again take time to check friends and family members’ birthdays and think of what presents to buy, especially after already reading all articles in the daily newspaper. Unwittingly, it could sometimes become a friendship check-up as the guests entertain themselves on the toilet by flipping through the birthday calendar. They might find it sweet and thoughtful when they find their names. Or, they feel a bit empty while flushing their waste down to the toilet because they wonder if the host doesn’t remember their birthdays.

Anyhow, I don’t know what Dutch people think about Feng-shui. But if you ask my mom, she would definitely shake her head and tell you that having a toilet by the front door might push away the god of fortune and good luck.

In order to fix this issue and merge Taiwanese culture into our Dutch living style, I took out the 12 zodiac signs from my treasure case. The Chinese zodiac is based on a twelve year cycle. Twelve animals represent one individual year in that cycle. They are in the order of rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

Speaking of which, my memory immediately flew back to the blue sky in Santorini, Greece many years ago. My friend and I burst out laughing when we witnessed a rather perplexing Chinese character tattoo on the upper back of a sexy beach boy. It was "Dragon, Tiger, CHICKEN". I genuinely think it was meant to be "Phoenix".

Alright, back to reality. I am quite satisfied with my solution. Deep down in my heart, by hanging the zodiac signs next to the birthday calendar in this petit restroom, I am counting on the dragon and the tiger to improve our Feng-shui in the house.

Meanwhile, if I interpret it from the perspective of Feng-shui, the big windows spot it right to the point. By welcoming the sunlight into the house, the rooms are naturally filled with positive Qi. However, on the other hand, look at how inviting the windows and curtains are in the front of the houses. The windows have to be as big and wide as possible while the curtains are most of the time pulled to the sides.

Those large windows constantly remind me of the Dutch cleaning lady policy: "Dit huis is schoon genoeg om gezond te blijven, maar vuil genoeg om gezellig te zijn." (This house is clean enough to stay healthy, but dirty enough to be cozy.) Thankfully, last time I checked the house, it fit the criteria perfectly. Phew.

To be honest with you, Liza, my heart beating could be so fast simply by walking around in the neighborhood. I sincerely hope it is human nature but not just me. I feel sorry for my curiosity if I don’t grab my chance to observe some interesting displays, but I also usually feel very shy after a few seconds of peeking.

And just between you and me, I sometimes wonder what my neighbours are thinking when they unintentionally see me doing aerobics in my pyjamas.

Last but not the least, two Korean happy couple masks also attempt to mingle in our little living room. The wife gives a moderate and content feeling; the husband has a mild look and seems joyful over everything. The wife is placed higher than the husband on the wall. Every time when my eyes meet their smiles, I have the picture of "Mr. Right & Mrs. Always Right" in mind. Asking if I am a superstitious Taiwanese? Well, I absolutely am!

Iris

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