Belgians abroad

I never understood why Belgians traveling abroad - even on a first and short visit to a new place - tend to hang out in so-called Belgian cafés or restaurants wherever this kind of establishment is available.

Or why spotting a Belgian car in foreign parts leads to all kinds of irrational reflexes, like enthousiastic waving. At that sacred moment, there are no Flemings or Walloons, we are Belgians.

In our own country, we do not wave to each car with a Belgian licence plate. That would be a full time job. Quite the opposite. We like to ignore each other. We may be traveling in the same train compartment with the same people, day after day and year after year, without a nod or a word. This may appear absolutely unbelievable to a full blooded American, but it is undeniably true.

A fine exemple of that bizarre herd-like behaviour can be observed in the Belgian café near the Pont Vieux in Lourdes, France. It is always filled to capacity with fellow countrymen who, even on a four or five day trip, feel the need to have a Belgian beer. OK, I agree that there is no better beer worldwide, but on a short trip to France - most certainly one of the richest countries with an abundant selection of outstanding drinks - any normal person should be tempted to try a French drink in a French bar.

Why do we show such atypical behaviour when we are traveling abroad ? I'd rather not go into that murky psychological matter.

My paper writes that even our ministers are not immune. A "Belgian" blogger with a very Dutch name is reported to have spotted one of our excellencies in a Belgian café-restaurant in New York city. This excellency is reported to have behaved very badly. Whether that is true or not, I do not know. The excellency of course vigourously denies any wrongdoing.

But had he gone to any other bar, he would not even have been recognised. Maybe that was an unbearable thought. Who knows ?


Anonymous said...

Als het bier is in de man ...

Pablo Carpintero said...

I read that the bartender who put the news about the minister on her blog has been fired on the spot by the owner of the Belgian café in NYC. She laments her faith in today's Standaard.

I fully understand the owner, who clearly appreciates discretion and protects his customers' privacy. If the Belgians over there were to avoid his pub because their possibly incorrect behaviour might be published on the web, chances are that he might close his tent altogether.

Pablo Carpintero said...

Faith ? No, of course I meant fate.