“I met my husband Renko at the Blauwe Theehuis (Blue Teahouse). A friend of mine worked there, and I’d arranged to meet a group of his friends to teach them Portuguese. I sat on an empty stool. Renko, one of my friend’s friends who I had never met, had just gone to get a beer. When he got back he asked me if he could have his stool back. I was a bit shocked. I had only just got back from Brazil, where men treat women differently; they open the door for you, carry your bags. I had already noticed the difference when I was on the plane to Amsterdam. No-one helped you put your suitcase in the overhead lockers. That’s when I think, “Now I’m really back in Amsterdam!”
If I hadn’t just been to Brazil, I would probably have told him, “I don’t see your name on the stool”. But after the more gracious behaviour of Brazil I felt a bit shocked and quickly stood up. I even felt a little embarrassed.
Typically Amsterdam is what I call his behaviour. Whether it’s typically Dutch, I have no idea. If this had happened in Zeeland, he might not have bothered asking for his stool back, as anyone there would probably think that I wouldn’t understand a word they said. But they still would have wanted that stool back!
Renko and I are now married with two children: Renske and Willem. I love Dutch names. Renske is a combination of our names, and what’s even more wonderful is that Renko’s grandmother is also called Renske. Choosing your child’s name is considered very important in Brazil. Willem is named after my Dutch father-figure. When I was still new to Amsterdam I used to clean houses to pay for my studies. I also cleaned for Mr. Willem. He became extremely important to me, and would cycle through the entire Vondel Park three times a week to his house.
Sadly, he became ill when I became pregnant with my second child, and he died. Which is why I call my son Willem, and I am very happy with my choice.”
1065 people in Amsterdam have the Brazilian nationality