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Bikeland

Holland is a province, namely North Holland. The correct term all school boys are taught is The Netherlands, but it should be called Bikeland. The Dutch would like to think they invented the bicycle, which they did not, it was a German invention. But ownership is a big thing in Holland, if they like something or do it frequently they really own it. It is a material society, more so than most. In Ireland it's all about the land you own, in England your castle, in Holland it's about the things you do, and if you do them a lot - it must be Dutch!

I remember a Dutchman telling me with that arrogant pride that they excel at, "We Dutch have a unique love of cycling." I replied, "that this was because it was a flat country." "Oh", he responded, "I never thought of that." This is not an isolated case, most Dutch haven't connected the fact that the country is flat with their abundant use of the bike. Autistic in intelligence is a term regularly applied by the outside observer. What they do own, and what is very Dutch are the bizarre alternatives and inventions they develop when adapting the bike. A 3-wheeler, a motor engine, an attachment to carry a briefcase or your entire family of blond blue eyed children.

Since the 1900's the Dutch have been adapting and adding features to the bicycle in crazy inventor like fashion. An object in Holland is something that can be tinkered with, improved, modified, made better. Unfortunately this is also applied to people, an individual is something to be experimented on, engineered and altered, as is society as a whole. It has the frightening tone of a doctor in a concentration camp about it. Don't get me wrong, their skills of engineering are worthy and inspiring and it has created a country with an impressive infrastructure, but sadly it has also created a society with people who are permanently experimented on, tinkered with and as a result don't really know who they are anymore, they do however, know how to ride a bike.

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