While stationed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, between 1980 and 1984, for the World Bank, we traveled with the two kids, David and Samantha, (8 and 6), through India on several occasions, from east-west to north-south: wonderful and unforgettable experiences. Some pictures you may remember from your own travels in that intriguing part of the world.
How did we travel? By air (it takes three hours to fly north-south), taxicabs, and rickshaws. We visited palaces and temples of artful architecture which showed the richness of India in the Middle Ages and earlier, while Europe was building its own cathedrals and palaces.
We watched the Gometeswara statue above in awe on our way from Bombay (now Mumbai) to Bangalore. The kids were still too young to feel ‘shocked’ by the enormous penis, but on a beach in Goya later, daughter Samantha pointed startled at a live male nudist’s penis because to her big shock it dangled precipitously.
Dave and Sam in front of the impressive Palace at Mysore in southern India, a huge complex designed by Englishman Lord Henry Irwin and built between 1897-1912 after the old wooden structure burned down. Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV and his mother Maharani Kempananjammanni Devi, commissioned Lord Henry to build it. The royal family lived in these palaces since the 14th century.
A photograph of the Hoysaleswara temple at Belur. Here is where Sam and Dave disappeared in the dark inside. Worried about child kidnapping in India, we found Sam later sitting with a local family, selling mango fruits as if she had become Indian. They did not want to be photographed. When Sam ran back to us I sneakily took a picture of them anyway.
Notice the natural Indian beauty of the young women selling mangos, squatting with – probably – their mother.
The ancient Indian art of temple sculpture is breathtaking. You see much of that art spread throughout South Asia and the Far East (Indonesia).
Of course, we had to visit the Taj Mahal (“Crown of the Palaces” – in Hindi) in the city of Agra while staying with friends in New Delhi who kindly babysat the kids for this trip. Joy is shown with the Taj Mahal in the background. My grandfather, a great-uncle, and father went there too, so it became sort of a pilgrimage for me. For Joy, all travel in India, in particular Bombay and the south where her family hailed from, was an all-out pilgrimage to visit her roots. Her family name in Guyana being Jaundoo, we searched the English language Bombay telephone book, which listed the name Chandoo. In Guyana, it had become Jaundoo. The pronunciation was exactly the same in Hindi, but spelled differently in English in British Guyana.
The inside of the Taj Mahal glorifies Persian, Mongol and Indian art. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (who reigned from 1628 to 1658), to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal (source Wikipedia) Next to the Taj Mahal is the tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah, commissioned by Nur Jahan, the wife of Jahangir, for her father Mirzā Ghiyās Beg, originally a Persian Amir in exile. I’timad was an important Persian official in the Mughal Empire, whose children served as wives, mothers, and generals of the Mughal Emperors.
From Agra we traveled to nearby Fatehpur Sikri, a remnant of the capital of the Mughal Empire in 1571 built by Emperor Akbar, serving in this role from 1571 to 1585 (Wikipedia). It is a remarkable assembly of impressive buildings which excel in structural simplicity.
From there, we traveled to Jaipur to complete the Taj Mahal ‘triangle.’ A historic old town with a remote castle on top of a mountain that one can only reach by elephant.
A ‘Joyful” elephant rider: the elephant seems to like her.
Following are two local Indian paintings we bought in Jaipur. The one with the Hindu figures we could not get because the store where we saw it displayed in the window case was closed. Indian friends of ours – thanks again Anand Seth if you read this blog! – who are from Jaipur purchased it for us later. The other painting displays a typical Indian rural scene as we encountered them on our travels by car.
Back to New Delhi to pick-up the kids to travel to Srinagar in Kashmir, a state torn by strife between Pakistan and India, now dangerous for tourists. We spent there a week in a houseboat on the lake at Srinagar, from where we traveled around Kasmir with its beautiful scenery that reminded me of Switzerland.
Following are some more pictures of fascinating Kashmir with Joy, Dave, and Sam:
It was great to relax in Kashmir. But on a day trip with a rented car, we got a flat…and no spare in the back! I had to walk to a nearby village to get some young guys to help me carry the tire to a local workshop to get it repaired. The young guys said proudly: ‘Kashmir is Pakistan.’ They were also proudly Islamic. It reminded me later when I sat with Palestinian colleagues looking over the Dead Sea at the West Bank mountain ridge. ‘There is Palestine,” they said, as proudly. Behind the scenic beauty in the world, strife is not far behind.
Meanwhile, Sam took it easy: she ate an apple I plucked from a nearby fruit yard, with the scenic valley and Himalayan mountain ridge in the back.
Next album: Darjeeling and more.
Are Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas the same or ‘brothers’?
Daughter Sam figuring as Santa Claus at Georgetown Visitation, Washington, D.C., schmoozing with Papa John.
The Dutch (and Belgium/Luxemburg and northern France) celebrate ‘Sinterklaas’ (or Saint Nicolas in French) on the evening of December 5 and the morning of December 6 (Belgium/France). In Holland, this is a major festivity, which keeps the children in great expectations of what gifts they will get, on the condition that they behave well. The Dutch Sinterklaas is the precursor of the British/American Santa Claus, which is celebrated at Christmas. Most Americans probably don’t know that, but the American Santa tradition emerged from the Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam, now New York. How this happened is lively described by Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinterklaas) and I will not repeat it here, but as a Dutch family in the US, we celebrated Sinterklaas with the children when they were young (from 4 to 8) and still believed that Sinterklaas really existed.
Sinterklaas comes around on a white horse that can fly over the rooftops, and drops gifts through the chimneys with the help of his servants, called ‘Black Peters’. The origin for this story is that at some stage the bishop Nicholas moved from Turkey to Spain in the middle ages, and in Spain, wealthy people had servants from northern Africa (‘Moors’) who are brown skinned. The ‘Black Peters’ are nowadays in uproar in the Netherlands because of a culture clash with inhabitants from Surinam and Africa, even though Black Peters were never considered a ‘racial’ matter before. But politics have a tendency to destroy the fun of long-established national customs.
At the time we were on assignment in Bangladesh (1980-1984), the Dutch diplomatic and foreign aid community always celebrated Sinterklaas enthusiastically, and for us parents, the period leading up to it was a perfect time to keep ‘the kids’ in good behavior. Every night they put their shoes out (in the living room) and if they were well-behaved they found a little gift from Sinterklaas. If they did not behave well, they could be ‘punished’ by Sinterklaas when, on December 5, they met him and his ‘Black Peters’ who would put a bad boy in a jute bag to take him to Spain to drill school (of course, if they put one in a jute bag, he was released a short while later).
The main differences between Sinterklaas en Santa Claus are that Sinterklaas rides a horse that flies, and Santa sits on a coach pulled by flying reindeer. Sinterklaas has Black Peters as servants while Santa is accompanied by elves who do not punish children for bad behavior. William Bennet wrote an interesting book about ‘The True Saint Nicolas’ worth reading: https://amzn.to/2LxG8lg
Below follow some pictures of a happy Sinterklaas childhood.
The Dutch Ambassador, H.E. Pim Damstee, receives Sinterklaas at the Dutch Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh, surrounded by expat children, and followed by his ‘Black Peter’.
Son Dave (6) absorbing a well-deserved dressing-down by Sinterklaas, reading from his notes about Dave’s bad behavior he’d heard about. Dave narrowly escaped the jute bag.
Sam, whose behavior was more cautious in the face of possible ‘punishment’ by a Black Peter, walks away happily with a gift.
On return to Washington, years later, the Sinterklaas fun continued for the grandkids, at the Dutch Embassy in Washington, D.C. The festivity is organized by the Dutch club “DC Dutch” in collaboration with the Dutch Ambassador.
The Dutch Ambassador, H.E. Renée Jones-Bos, receives Sinterklaas at the Embassy for the annual Sinterklaas festivity (picture dates from December 2011). We knew Renée when she was a young Third Secretary at the Dutch Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh where we became good friends. We met her again when she was stationed in Washington as Embassy Counsel, and given her brilliant reputation, we were not surprised to see her nominated Ambassador to Washington years later, one of the highest posts of the diplomatic service. In 2012, she was appointed Secretary General of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the highest level of the civil service, a post she held until 2016 when she became Ambassador to Moskou where she is still today. She was selected as ‘the most powerful Dutch Woman.’ Quite a career!
Son David in animated discussion with the Ambassador, her husband Dr. Richard Jones (UK), a writer, sharing in the amusement.
Black Peter entertains grandson Preston and his dad.
Next, Preston John meets Sinterklaas, expecting his gift.
Sinterklaas hands Preston John, called PJ for short, his gift, Black Peter looking on. No jute bag this time.
PJ’s younger sister, Sadie Rose, takes Sinterklaas and all Black Peters for granted and goes for a snooze. She knows she will see her gift later,
PJ to the contrary is admiring his gift.
Merry Christmas to you all, from Santa Claus!
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Picture: Audrey dancing ballet in Arnhem – 1946
In honor of Audrey and her Children’s Fund (www.audreyhepburn.com) I published a short story on how we met as children and thereafter at a chance meeting when she was a well-known and beloved actress, with many good movies on her repertoire. My favored Audrey movie is Roman Holiday, her first, when I heard at boarding school the girl I played with when I was 7 (and she 13) during World War II had become a movie star and an overnight sensation. The short story is on holiday sale for only US$5.99 plus shipping or equivalent in other currencies (Pound Sterling, Euro) and the proceeds go to help Audrey’s Children’s Fund. Be a little generous and receive a sweet memory in return, with a few rare pre-fame Audrey pictures included.
USA and Canada:
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL OF YOU!
The above picture is ‘pre-fame’ Audrey Hepburn when she was modeling in London in the early fifties, a copyrighted picture of the Audrey Hepburn family archive given to me by her second son Luca Dotti. Audrey (then 13) and I (then 7) played together in Holland during World War II. I wrote about it in my just-published paperback, entitled ‘Audrey – a Cherished Memory,’ which also includes some ‘pre-fame’ pictures, some given to me by her mother, Ellen Baroness van Heemstra, and others by Luca Dotti, also from the family archive. The paperback is a short story and you can read it in one sitting, with a coffee, a cup of tea, a scotch or a glass of wine. For Audrey lovers, it is a nice souvenir. I am sending the sales proceeds to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund. Originally priced at US$8 or equivalent, I have lowered the price to US$5.99 or equivalent, to encourage more sales during the Christmas and New Year period.
Many charities are claiming your generosity these days but with this contribution, you also get a sweet Audrey story in return! So give it your best, and click on where you are buying from:
The booklet is sold by Amazon.com with the following links, in the various locations of the USA, Canada, UK (Europe), France, Italy and elsewhere. as listed below:
USA and Canada:
MAKE IT YOUR CHRISTMAS GIFT! Audrey will be delighted.
For the cookerers among you, Luca Dotti produced a wonderful cookbook with Audrey’s recipes, including Dutch recipes, entitled Audrey at Home: Memories of My Mother’s Kitchen – http://amzn.to/2AqVPF1
Those who already purchased my Audrey booklet and want to donate directly to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund, please do so by clicking on http://www.audreyhepburn.com
160 years spun together, brother and sister through “thick and thin” – Dutch saying -, Marie and John celebrated their 80th birthdays on July 9, 2017, at the house of their granduncle, Joost van der Poorten Schwartz, alias Maarten Maartens, the once-famous novel writer around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Uncle Joost was the brother of their grandfather, John (Johannes) Schwartz, after whom this John was named. Although the castle-like house, named “Zonheuvel” or “Sun Hill”, located in Doorn near Utrecht in the Netherlands, is now owned by the Dutch business training and advice institution, SBI (de stichting Slotemaker de Bruine Instituut), it is still used as a regular reunion venue for the extended Schwartz family (and their counterpart de Savornin Lohman family as well). They revere their uncle’s fame with his pen and immense imagination and like to dwell in his library and workroom, where he kept his many old literary books while writing his own. At the same time, they enjoy the good catering services of “Zonheuvel Hotel,” which SBI built on the grounds of the estate.
Both Marie and John went around the world during their lifetime, Marie for “Women in Europe for a Common Future,” a non-governmental organization she created in 1994, and which has internationally grown over the years, now operating under the name of “Women Engage for a Common Future.” Having relinquished the direction of WECF to her daughter Sascha Gabizon, who directs the organization as Executive Director from München, Germany, Sascha has expanded the operations of WECF considerably under the guidance of her mother, Marie, still acting as Honorary President and Policy Adviser. Sascha was recently elected as European Regional Representative to UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, one of the primary activities of WECF. (UNEP’s election results are in: Sascha is now UNEP’s regional representative for civil society in Europe.) As she once told me – in all modesty – “I’m a good manager.”
Sascha’s brother Michiel Kranendonk became a devoted art painter who produces wonderful special-light-effect sea views, portraits, and sculptures and also accomplished an impressive wall-painting of the Maarten Maartens House that hangs in Hotel Zonheuvel.
Both Sascha with Marc Gabizon, and Michiel with Swenne van Roosmalen, were blessed with lovely children. Sascha with Lily, who at age 16 already speaks four languages fluently (Dutch, French, English, and German!), and Michiel with Marinke, a beauty in full bloom, and Ingmar, her younger brother in battle.
Photo above: Swenne van Roosmalen, Michiel’s wife. Next, their daughter Marinke, dancing with Preston John Schwartz, his sister Sadie looking on. Marinke’s brother, Ingmar, appears later as an Indian warrior in Karl May’s Old Shatterhand stories Marie always read endlessly on “de plee” – (Dutch word for toilet and pronounced “play.”)
John traveled the world for the World Bank most of his life, and also as an international consultant for 17 years after he retired, looking back on mixed results, as improving public financial management, sound economic investment, and modernizing old cultural habits with deeply-vested interests in less developed nations proves difficult, slow-moving, and often exasperating. His children did not think much of it – “Daddie is always away on mission” – while Joy, his dapper wife, had to drive them to and from school in snow and ice, or thunderstorms. In the end, Pa left it to others trying to improve the world – much too late the kids said – and became a writer. In the spirit of Uncle Joost, also writing in English.
Photos above: John’s books about Maarten Maartens’ stories. Next, leaving the two books to his greatuncle on his desk, in his memory and with great admiration. Standing against the bouquet of flowers is a booklet by Maximiliaan Schwartz, a cousin of Maarten Maartens, who translated some of his stories into Dutch. It was a gift to John from Ada Baars de Savornin Lohman. This is a rare booklet and little known in the family today. Uncle Max descended from the first marriage of the Great Grandfather Carl Schwartz and was a doctor in the classical languages, who translated the works of many Greek and Latin authors into Dutch while being Dean of the City Gymnasium of Nijmegen in Holland. These books are still in print.
John’s kids did not follow their dad to the World Bank but succeeded in making good careers of their own. Samantha obtained a Ph.D. in psychology and law and works as a jury consultant (US law system) traveling to all corners of the USA, and David is a successful sales representative of Ethicon, the surgical instruments division of Johnson & Johnson, selling “hammers and nails” to needy surgeons. The grandchildren would probably still be working on grandpa’s failed missions, a never-ending story, but, so far, they seem more interested in playing football and ballet dancing.
Preston is a Little League football player in the US and was named “most valuable player” (at the age of 7) of his region in 2016. On “Sadie Ballet”: she is the little one second from right. At the end of her show, she makes a summersault!
As a result, on this fabulous day of celebration, the two 80-year-olds – John reached his past November 10, 2016, and Mary will reach hers next February 11, 2018 – can’t complain about their life’s achievements, despite the pain, hardship and difficult moments. It was, therefore, a great pleasure to celebrate this lifelong achievement with dear family and dear friends from different parts of the world we had not seen for many years, some never before, in bright sunny weather (hooray for the Netherlands). It was a day of music, song, and dance, with good dishes, beer (Van Vollenhoven’s lager and stout!) provided by Poesiat & Kater, Muiderpoort-Amsterdam, courtesy brewers Eymert van Manen and Pieter Teepe, wine, and fun, and having a chance to interact with each other, even if it was for a brief moment. The serene atmosphere of the Maarten Maartens House offers a splendid environment for such an occasion.
After all this self-boasting, a few pictures of the event follow below. Most pictures were made by April R. Faulkner-Schwartz, an excellent amateur-photographer, whose diligence is hereby greatly appreciated. Other family members and friends (among others Nellie Mietes, Junte Schwartz, Lodewijk Regout) also contributed pictures and we are immensely grateful for that.
Welcome toasts at the Maarten Maartens House Marie – John – Max the Dog – Joy (John’s wife) son David, daughter Sam, granddaughter Sadie, Amalia Baracs, in the background Jan van Roosmalen, Michiel’s father-in-law, and
Mary, John, Joy, David with Sadie, Samantha, Jan van Roosmalen, Willemijn Banki (student friend of Michiel’s) and Amalia Baracs in the background – Next Joy and John toasting.
Guests still entering the hall of the Maarten Maartens House during the welcoming ceremony.
First cousins Junte and John chatting together. Next cousins Arent van Sminia and Alexander de Savornin Lohman talking.
Dear friend Amalia Baracs bringing flowers to Marie. Next Joy talking to Marie with April Schwartz listening in.
Pianist Bas Vermeyden playing classical music on Maarten Maartens grand piano, still in splendid shape, to accompany a show of Michiel’s paintings on screen. Children are watching the show.
Sascha, director of the performance, speaking. Cousin Samantha speaking as well.
Above Lily Gabizon, Naomi van Kleef, Sadie and Preston Schwartz, Marinke Kranendonk, Samantha Schwartz, performing.
The children and grandchildren performed a hilarious show.
Michiel, acting as Marie’s mother superior at her girl-boarding school, Sacré Coeur, who was not happy with her behavior.
Heleen de la Hayze (now Corbet), Marie’s oldest friend from Heemstede, Marie, and John watching the performance. Next Michiel being addressed by his mother during the show.
Ending the performance in applause and deep bows.
John dancing with Heleen (like they were 5 and 4 years old) – and the rest of the party in full swing.
More dancing after the show
Cousins Michiel and David having second thoughts about their parents’ speeches
Michiel turned off by David’s flirting with Lilly.
Joy and Alexander de Savornin Lohman. Next, Joy holding a gift photo with Mary, John, and sister Carla when they were teens.
From left to right: Willem Dólleman from Kenya and his wife Marie-José, John, (Willem Dólleman from Paris, hidden behind John), Judith and her father Junte. Willem Dólleman from Kenya became a successful farmer like his father Willem (from the North East Polder – Flevoland) and built a windfarm in Kenya of 365 wind turbines, producing 320 MW, with partners, in a remote but very windy area, to supply Kenya with cheaper alternative energy (at half the cost of European windfarms!) Read about it on http://bit.ly/2yHK1jL , how he overcame World Bank objections (!!!) and won the confidence of the African Development Bank, which was my employer for many years after my retirement from the World Bank. Also consult http://bit.ly/2yPUszf, and about Willem’s earlier successful exploits in Tanzania and Kenya: http://bit.ly/2iDeo4n. This is a remarkable story! If there is one family member who deserves the crown, it’s Willem Dolleman from Kenya! I regret we did not herald his terrific achievements more loudly at the party. The Dólleman family came from our grandmother Mary Dólleman, who married our grandfather Hector van Coehoorn van Sminia (Arent van Sminia, our cousin, below, attended our birthday party as well). Mary Dólleman’s mother was the daughter of Johan Jacob van der Wall, medalled Officer of the Cavalry in Holland, who as a young boy was forced to accompany Napoleon on his infamous Russia invasion. He was one of the very few who came back alive, on a beautiful horse, given to him by his saviors in Russia. I was delighted to meet again after many years with another dear cousin Willem Dolleman, who was a former diplomat of the Dutch Foreign Service and now lives in Paris with his French wife. We were so glad to reconnect with this illustrious part of the family.
Same photograph: Cousin and niece Judith, second from right, who had just recovered from a serious and mysterious infection and we were so happy to see her alive and kicking again, though still using a walking stick at the party. A few months before we were praying day-in-day-out that she would not succumb but she’s a very strong-willed girl (with a lovely little daughter Nicoline) and thank God made it back.
Next photo above: Marie in talks with Maartje Hamers-Dolleman, sister of Willem from Kenya, and Marie-José Dolleman.
Children having fun in the lovely garden of the Maarten Maartens House
A few of the many group photos. Names on the photo above:
Left: The open-air theater, built by Maarten Maartens’ daughter, Aunt Ada in 1939, as photographed in 1971, in a 1991 brochure of the Maarten Maartens Foundation. Next, the theater rediscovered and restored by SBI in 2017, just ready for the birthday party (photograph by Kim Mastenbroek of Hotel Zonheuvel).
April Renée Faulkner-Schwartz, the great photographer, with her two children Preston John and Sadie Rose. Next, her mother Doris Kooch.
We did not realize how important this festivity would become when the idea of a joint 80th birthday arose. When the day was over and everybody had gone home, it dawned on us what a great day it was. To us – and hopefully to all who came – the idea of the whole family and friends being together for a few hours became a memorable event. Even if we could not talk long with everyone, it was a great feeling being together and having seen each other again. Life is only so short.