There’s more to Den Haag than ministries
s and tourist attraction
s only. There’s something intangible
about the city, some kind of atmosphere
which is extremely hard for outsiders to infiltrate. True Hagenezen
, as inhabitants of Den Haag are called, are vulgar
, perhaps even uncivilized
. Their language
is downright ugly, the local soccer club they all support (ADO Den Haag
) molests people, they don’t easily get involved in friendship
s, their clothes are cheap
and again, ugly
. Still, they’re proud as peacocks
of their so-called culture
, and even more than their culture, of their favorite haunt
s. Hagenezen can be found in, amongst other neighbourhoods, the "Schilderswijk".
On the other side of the community are the wealthy people, who live in districts like ‘Statenkwartier’, ‘Belgisch Park’ and ‘Benoordenhout‘. Many of them are of Indonesian descent, merchants who moved to Den Haag when parts of Indonesia were still Dutch colonies. These people go drink tea in the ‘Frederik Hendriklaan’ and the ‘Laan van Meerdervoort’ on sundays, buy their clothes at ‘Meddens’ (an exclusive department store) and have at least one or more houses in Southern France and Spain.
A last group of residents consists of Turkish, Surinamese and Maroccan immigrants, living in districts like ‘Moerwijk’ and ‘Spoorwijk’, but also the 'Schilderswijk'.
The local council has been (unsuccessfully) trying to make Den Haag a college town, by offering Turkish students to come to Holland and study at the ‘Haagse Hogeschool’ (the city’s largest college) for little money, and by building student apartments all over the city. When this didn’t work out local council decided Den Haag had to be an architectonic example for the rest of Europe. Several millions were pulled out of the council’s pockets, for two new train stations had to be built, the coastal area had to be renewed, the tram system should be built underground, all streets in the poor districts should be repaved, and many more things citizens didn’t know about until they read in the newspapers all had been a giant financial disaster. The underground tram system, better known as the ‘tramtunnel’, even made it to the Dutch Lower House. One-and-a-half billion guilders (about 500 million USD) were given to Den Haag’s local counsil, who thankfully accepted it to fill up the cracks that had appeared in the walls of the tunnel. Note to the reader: up till now, trams still ride aboveground in Den Haag.
When a foreigner truly wants to know what life is like in Den Haag, he shouldn’t go to Madurodam, the Sea Life Centre or Panorama Mesdag. He should go have barbecue with the Turkish families in the ‘Zuiderpark’ on Saturday afternoon, go see a soccer match from ADO and stand between the ADO-supporters while drinking Heineken beer and eating frankfurters, or go see a performance of Anouk, Kane or Golden Earring in café/disco ‘de Tempel’. To really feel what it’s like to be a Hagenees though, one should know the folk song ‘Oh oh Den Haag’ by heart. This song will make even the toughest Hagenees burst out in tears.