[Blog] Superdiversity in Antwerp // A Scottish perspective: The first two hours in Antwerp

02-06-2013 | Steven Clark

I was very surprised at how the taxi driver did not even know us yet, felt easy enough to make what I considered to be racist comments

Although I did not realise it at the time, our first two hours in Antwerp could be seen as the two sides of the Antwerpian coin. Just off the plane, we spent one hour and a half waiting in the cold windy snow for a taxi outside Deurne Airport at midnight.

Being from Aberdeen where the airport is always full of taxis, we were sure at first one would eventually come by. However, the road was dark and none seemed to be coming. While waiting, smoking and shivering, three local Flemish people walked past us at separate times and offered to help by phoning taxis for us. This was a welcome relief and gave me a very warm friendly feeling. I remember thinking how nice the people over here must all be if this was the standard to go by.

Eventually a taxi came and picked us up. We were chatting to the driver about Antwerp and Scotland when we drove past a Jewish man, which was interesting to me as back home no people ever wear traditional Jewish dress. The Taxi driver noticed me looking and commented, “the Jews, whatever the weather, hot or cold, they always wear the same thing”, he followed this with a slight laugh and his tone was quite derogatory. I was taken aback at how he was implying an us- and- them-situation with very negative connotations. I was very surprised at how the taxi driver did not even know us, yet felt easy enough to make what I considered to be racist comments. The fact that he did not even seem to consider this opinion to be out of place for a customer to hear was also shocking. In Aberdeen I am sure you do get taxi drivers who share similar beliefs but to hear them being spoken as if a normal topic was quite surprising and ruined the nice feeling I had after all the aid offered to us just one hour earlier.

To receive these two sides of the people of Flanders in the first two hours made me wonder what I would encounter during my next four months in Belgium.


>>> Steven Clark and Missale Solomon, two Scottish interns at Kif Kif will blog about the Superdiversity in Antwerp, their host city. Read Missale's first blog here