“Ach kasian, het is voorbij, kasian het is voorbij.
Den Haag, Den Haag, de weduwe van Indië ben jij…”
“O kasian, it is over, kasian, it is over. The Hague, The Hague, you are the widow of the Dutch East Indies.”
Have you ever been to the Haags Historisch Museum? Probably not. Everybody knows the Mauritshuis with its Vermeers and Rembrandts, the Municipal Museum with its Mondrians, but the Historical Museum of The Hague on the Hofvijver… No.
Now, this interesting exhibition will give you a reason to make up for this oversight. The title says it all: Dutch East Indies in The Hague. This exhibition will give you a different view of the city.
Dutch East Indies in The Hague? Ofcourse The Hague is riddled with excellent Indonesian restaurants. And maybe you’ve seen the posters of the Tong Tong Fair starting at the end of May. Maybe you even visited this wonderful festival on the Malieveld focusing on culture, and particularly culinary culture in former years. Launched in 1959 it is the oldest multicultural festival in the world. Why in The Hague. Because The Hague is the Eurasian capital of Europe, in fact of the world, as Tong Tong Fair director Mrs. Ellen Derksen says. The Dutch call Den Haag, de Indische hoofdstad van Europa. Indisch – East Indies – Indonesian, what is the meaning of these names?
The word ‘Indisch’ (Eurasian) often gets confused with ‘Indonesian’. However, the word does not refer to the Republic of Indonesia. It refers to the culture that goes back to the old Dutch East Indies of the colonial era. After the eastern archipelago gained its independence at the end of the 1940s, some 350,000 Dutch Eurasians came to the Netherlands. Some 50,000 moved on to the United States, Canada and Australia but many of them settled in The Hague.
The exhibition in The Hague Historical Museum will give you an understanding of this fascinating culture. You journey back in time to the establishment of the Dutch East India Company in the seventeenth century and witness the development of the plantations and overseas trade. As the centuries went by, the bond with the East became stronger and stronger. Dutch author Louis Couperus (born 150 years ago this year) wrote fascinating books about The Hague and its relations with ‘Indië’. Some of these books are available in translation. On the Javastraat a small museum is dedicated to this famous author. And our present musical world was given a boost by many Indo bands like the Blue Diamonds and the Tielman Brothers in the fifties and sixties.
So, is it all about the past? No, the Eurasian culture is alive and kicking today. The Tong Tong Fair and the many Indonesian restaurants are solid evidence of this. Enjoy the food, the music and take part in the welcoming Eurasian culture. In the exhibition, at the fair… you will not regret it.
Photo by http://www.kaskus.co.id/