Monday, November 06, 2006

Belgians are nice, but their country is weird

I have now quite a few local friends, mainly from school, and I think we get along quite well. They are in general nice people and everything seems to be OK. However, I can't help but notice how deeply is their country divided along linguistic lines, and how difficult it is for some of the Belgians to bridge that chasm.

I'll give a stupid example: TV. You have several channels in French and several in Dutch, and you may have the same football game at the same time being broadcast in both channels. The French-speaking news say very little about what happens in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium, and vice-versa. Even the Telemarketing ads are in both languages depending on the channel, even when they're selling the same thing (these days they keep on pushing a "Disco Fever" CD collection, which actually looks quite nice, but anyway) .

I don't think they'll truly separate, because, as a teacher said: "What do we do with Brussels then?". However, it is quite interesting to see the dynamics between two communities that live next to each other but only rally around the Red Devils (the football team), the Flag, the King and Kim Clijsters (the tennis player).

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