About 'Alpha+Good'

Alpha+Good (a bad wordplay on Orwell's "double plus good" and old machismo - I'm the realest after all) is a side project that belongs to 'Onklare taal' ('Unclear' or 'Unripe language'), the umbrella of several literary projects in Dutch.

This section is almost exclusively in English and comprises my ongoing thoughts on progress, gender, politics and various other social themes. Why is this in English why everything else in Dutch? Because I want to gun for a much wider audience here. Also, my literary English isn't good enough, otherwise I would always write in English.

Are you a little lost? This link will take you right back to my home page.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

State of Failure: Belgians abroad


Belgians love their vacations and holidays. Unlike most other peoples, Belgians tend to avoid each other like the plague when abroad.

Whereas Americans are always happy to meet compatriots abroad and the Dutch tend to magnetically clump together until they form a monstrous construct of noisy wheels, crying children and dirty caravans, Belgians travel in small, silent groups.

One way Belgians achieve this stealth is by speaking as little as possible so that if at all doable, they blend in with the natives. When they do have to interact with people abroad, if possible they will not state their background.

Walloons hate being thought of as French, except when in France. Flemings who have mastered English to a more or less perfect degree do the same in the UK and/or the US. Even Belgians of Moroccan or Turkish descend frequently visit the country where their roots lie, only to pretend not to be Belgian for as long as possible.

Important facts

Belgians have grown tired of explaining to ignorant foreigners where Belgium is, that it’s not a boring country and that we’re about more than food and football (though both are pretty big in Belgium, of course).

Some have taken this wariness to extreme heights of irony, like tricking gullible Americans into believing Belgium is an island in the Pacific, or that Belgium simply does not exist.

Apparently Belgians are favoured hotel guests all over the world because they are quiet and polite. Of course, little do these hotel managers know Belgians still manage a smile even if they’re simmering with rage on the inside over a misplaced fork or the unavailability of fries.

Why Belgians travel

The number one question Belgians face if they return home is: “how was the food”. No, I swear we’re not all about the food. This is not a small-talk question. The freshly-returned tourist will then describe each meal they had in great detail in front of an enraptured or disgusted audience, which is taking mental notes for future recollection. Bad food can spoil an entire holiday season.

The second most important question is: “how was the weather”. Anything but mostly sunny is unacceptable of a summer holiday destination. Third and last is: “how were the people”, though that is more of a perfunctory question, because in most cases, Belgians can already draw on a long list of national stereotypes about people they’ve never even met.

Belgians tend to reserve more sympathy for nations of somewhat similar standing, like Denmark, Slovenia, Switzerland, Sweden or Ireland.

Testament to this is the massive number of Irish pubs dotting the Belgian cityscape, mostly populated by personnel that tries its best to hide its massive Flemish accent when speaking English.

Where Belgians go

Belgians’ holiday destinations depend on social class and on political preferences.

Communicating with the locals
Walloons are rather shy and feel ill at ease when speaking a foreign language, even if, in some cases, their command of it is adequate enough. That’s why remaining within la Francophonie is an idea that appeals to them a lot.

Bruxellois fancy themselves citizens of the world and feel more comfortable abroad, often better informed about foreign countries than what’s going on in Flanders and Wallonia.

Flemings drastically overstate their knowledge of foreign languages and will often end up fumbling their way through comically embarrassing situations in a travesty of Spanish, Italian or German they picked up from comic books or pop culture.

German-speaking Belgians are the deepest-cover tourists of all. They can pass for most Western-European nationals, and avidly do so to avoid explaining for the 1000th time German is spoken in Belgium.

How to make Belgian tourists miserable


So, ladies and gents, that was it for @antonvoloshin’s week of commanding the Control Room of @belgiumers. Feel free to follow me or check out my website www.antonvoloshin.net.

I hope you enjoyed the ride and have as much fun flying along as I did captaining our spaceship! Commander Voloshin signing out!