Getting Chicken Pox After Being Vaccinated

Sometime ago, I had brought Petit-Homme to be vaccinated against the dreaded chicken pox. I learnt last week that the vaccine is not a complete shield. In a zealous frenzy, the virus took down at least 11 kids (at last count) in Petit-Homme’s class at crèche (including PH).  None of them had been vaccinated to my knowledge, and a few adults I spoke to were not aware the option to do it existed in the Netherlands. The last kid standing was unaffected as she had contracted it at 9 months, at another daycare (hurray communal child care!). Fortunately, he breezed through it easily with fewer than 20 spots on his body (only one on his face) and only mild itchiness and fever for a few hours. Crèche allows chicken pox victims to attend so I can attest to some very interesting sights and stories this week – a number of kids were blanketed in spots and some were forced to stay in bed with high fevers. Given that, I suppose even if the vaccine wasn’t 100% effective, it was better than nothing. (I had gotten a shot too, and so far no illness to remark upon..)

Funny how a £1 thingy can turn into your most hallowed possession

Funny how a £1 thingy can turn into your most hallowed possession

As most would know, calamine lotion is the chicken pox sufferer’s best friend for its instant itch-relieving powers. So I went scurrying around for a bottle. Guess what, the first pharmacy I went to said they “no longer sold it” for unknown reasons, and the second drugstore said “What’s that? How about some aloe vera?”  No one there had even heard of it. Bottomline, it seems to be almost impossible to purchase calamine in The Hague (though admittedly I didn’t search beyond those two stores as my British supplies mule was arriving in DH that same day with a precious bottle.)

I’m still very much a fan of immunizing kids against chicken pox. True, it’s only “one week of agony” but when life is already so full of unavoidable diseases, why not try to eliminate those we can?


What is more valuable than gold in the Netherlands?

One can per customer per day

One can per customer per day

Holland is suffering under the weight of its own reputation as a paradise for lactose aficionados. Baby formula shortages have been causing screaming frenzies and fights in stores for several years now. While it is true that some people have been buying formula to “export” to China, it is totally confounding as to why producers have not been able to keep up with the demand. At supermarkets nationwide, Nutrilon-brand formulae are kept in tight security, next to the packs of cigarettes at customer service (!!). Nutrilon is now a rationed product – Asians pick them up under intense scrutiny.

Stores here have taken to discriminating against people of Oriental origin, deliberately targeting them as raiders of the lost ark. There have been discrimination suits leveled at retailers and yet the war goes on. At Kruidvat, you have employees refusing to sell milk to Chinese people, while across the street at De Bijenkorf, you have sharply suited employees hired for their Mandarin-speaking abilities. In short, they shun Chinese custom at the cheap and cheerful drugstore, while they pad the red carpet for Beijing busloads vis-a-vis haute couture.

On its way to sacred status in NL

On its way to sacred status in NL

Yesterday night, there was another burglary at Petit-Homme’s crèche, targeting the formula stock. The baddies made off with a heap of baby formula and other knick knacks like iPads and cash. It is almost as though we were living in a communist regime where the shortage of basic necessities leads to anarchy.

This is quite the problem for Dutch retailers yet it is a huge opportunity for producers and everyone else on the distribution chain to capitalize on torrential demand. It is hard to understand why people in this day and age are still fighting tooth and nail over milk.

Wearing Shorts in The Hague

It’s finally summer in The Hague! Last week was a scorcher and I found myself digging through old piles of long-forgotten shorts, wondering if being buried for years made them shrink. Works for cadavers…


Bien Bleu shorts on sale ..

Everything was pretty sad looking. From the cheap-and-unfortunately-good quality denims I so proudly worked to death in Ottawa, to the surfer posers I got in Bodrum (courtesy of travel insurance when my luggage ended up in Costa Rica en route to Turkey). So I went shopping.

From bedroom to .. well... kitchen.. (Melting Stockholm - too comfy for words!)

From bedroom to .. well… kitchen.. (Melting Stockholm – too comfy for words!)

How complicated can shorts-hunting get? Actually, next to string bikinis from Eres, it would probably rank right up there as an object of despair, par excellence. Plus, on most of the continent, no self-respecting lady wanders out onto the piazza for drinks in shorts. I know because I tried this in Milan once. Not only did I get thrown out of several churches, I felt the need to just wrap up everywhere I went, like a burrito searching for its shell. And in Paris, don’t, just don’t. (particularly if you’ve just asked for ketchup.)  Bottomline, speakers of romance languages don’t wear shorts. Like a good love affair, something is always hidden.

marilyn-monroe-2Not so for Netherlands. This country is shorts-buying and shorts-wearing mecca. (not suggesting you really wear shorts in mecca.. ) I hit up The Sting and ended up spending an hour there trying out all sorts of concoctions (see purchases above). The high street havens (Zara, Mango, etc) are parading out tons of incarnations too and the “good” thing about NL is that they seem to recycle past years’ fashions on the sale rack, so if you’re still in the mood for a high-waist, high leg, Marilyn number (Marilyn Monroe wore a UK16 so most people can rock this come-on-sailor look), go dig around.

The only thing difficult about shorts here – NL is not truncated-trouser heaven for no reason. Dutch ladies here have legs that go on FOREVER.  They got it and they flaunt it. The bike lane has turned into YSL’s catwalk on wheels and Scheveningen beach is clustered with minimalistic-androgynous 6-foot volleyball champs. Someone bring me a busload of tourists from Houston to hang with please…