The dutch onion

I’m a Dutch onion and proud of it!’ is what I utter every morning as I leave the house. It’s a bit of a tricky statement to grasp on first impressions, seeing as I don’t have the glossy shine typically associated with onions, and standing near me doesn’t particularly push one to tears, so if you’re wondering what I’m going on about, let me explain.

I come from the sunny side of the world, where heavy jackets only serve to fill up space in wardrobes. This has led to my general indifference to weather, as I could always pop out of the house in a t-shirt and shorts or jeans. But Holland is not a land of sunny days and warm nights. No, this is the land of schizophrenic weather and misguided rainfall - misguided because the rain always catches me off-guard!  Through a mix of my bad weather prediction skills and bravado, I’ve learned the hard, wet way that the weather here can never be taken for granted. So in light of this, soon after arrival, I was quick to associate with a few Dutch friends who’ve since taught me quite a few useful ‘native’ principles for the benefit my general well-being, including most importantly the importance of the Dutch onion.

Have you ever watched a Dutch person? I mean really watched – no, not like a stalker or something, but like, say, the way researchers in the jungle watch animals for months on end. Have you noticed how the sizes of Dutch folk seem to fluctuate so much from when they’re in a building and when they’re out? Well, I noticed this, and upon greater investigation I discovered the surprising truth that onions are fundamental to Dutch life!   When I asked my Dutch friend how it was that they managed to gain and lose size so fast, he said it all had to do with coping with the ridiculous weather outside. Thus, for the typical, ubiquitous Dutch onion, there is always a topmost, waterproof layer, followed by two or three warm layers, which are peeled away or added piece by piece, hour by hour, even minute by minute, depending on the weather, until finally we reach the inner core layers, the stylish clothes we chose for that day and which may or may not be revealed, depending, of course, on the whims of the ridiculous Dutch weather! So I’ve learned fast in my three months in Delft. I now adhere religiously to the layering principle. I may look round and funny as a Dutch onion, but at least I’m warmer and dryer because of it!

Francis Ndonga, from Kenya, is a BSc student studying Aerospace Engineering