Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Rome is Fun

It’s been a while since we returned from our last trip to Europe. I have already posted a couple of pieces about this trip, primarily dealing with stressful events, but I promised that I would also describe positive experiences. So here I go, better late than never:

When we go to Europe, besides Holland, where I come from, we almost always hit Italy and France as well. Our most frequent destinations are Rome and Paris. However, we also “diversify,” visiting the provinces, for example Tuscany, the Italian Lake District, the Amalfi Coast, the French Riviera, the Dordogne, Normandy, etc.

We usually combine revisiting favorite spots and new places. In recent years we spent a marvelous week in Berlin and another one in Ireland, both of which were new to us. Sometimes we’ll tour some new parts of Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Scandinavia, Scotland and elsewhere.

This past year, we decided to return to Rome, as we have done almost every year for quite some time, then spend a week in Paris, and finally check out the Southwest of France and Spain’s adjacent Basque country. Today, I’ll just write about Rome. Read more...

Monday, November 5, 2018

Dionne Warwick

On our recent flight to Europe, we met the legendary songstress Dionne Warwick. I am not telling you about this as a silly boast (there is nothing to boast about accidentally bumping into a celebrity, which I am sure has happened to many of you, and which in and of itself means nothing). No, I am telling you this because of the very fun and funny way in which it happened, and mostly because it was an excellent learning lesson for me:

We were on our way to Brussels, Belgium. We had just spent the night crossing the Atlantic, and we landed in Dublin, Ireland, for our connection to Belgium.

We had a couple of hours to spare, so we went shopping a little bit in the duty-free area. I was standing in line to pay the cashier for some minor purchases. Next to me stood a thirty-something man, also buying some trinkets. He courteously said to me “Go ahead, sir.” I thanked him, and we started chatting a bit. He asked me where I was going, and I told him - Brussels, Belgium. I asked him where he was heading. He replied that he and his family were going to some seaside town in England...he couldn’t quite remember the name of the place...

Figures, I thought to myself. Geography isn’t Americans’ forte. Could he mean London, maybe? The guy was probably not an experienced traveler; maybe his first time in Europe? I also thought, how nice, that “common folks” can travel overseas for leisure... Read more...

Friday, October 26, 2018

Getting there is (Not) Half the Fun

My wife Anita and I have been back from Europe for a few weeks. We have finally caught up with the many errands that pile up during one’s absence, so I can now begin to tell you about some of the more “interesting” things that happened during our 4-week journey to Belgium, Paris, Switzerland and Rome.

I use the word “interesting” both in its general positive meaning , and also in the sense of the old Chinese curse wishing someone “an interesting life:”

As one gets older, international travel becomes more challenging, especially for those of us who refuse to throw in the towel, and who continue to travel independently rather than joining guided groups or going on cruises. We still rent cars and brave European traffic, we run around foreign railroad stations and airports for local connections, we take local subways and buses. We do it all, because we value authenticity. We also have friends and relatives in several of the countries to which we go. We are not just tourists. Read more...

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Well Done!

by Anita Kando
September 17, 2017

We arrived a few days ago to celebrate Ata's 104th birthday, only to get the shocking news of her fall and likely demise. At first, my natural reaction was that lifesaving measures should begin immediately – after all, a person does not die from a broken leg, right? We wanted to make sure Ata was not in any pain, that she was hydrated, etc, Dr. Laarhoven gently explained that Ata's wishes were being honored, they had already begun pain relief, and that she would remain at home as she had wished. It took only a moment to realize that this was as it should be, as Ata wished, and it was indeed the best course of treatment.

The health care team of doctors and nurses began their daily visits of every few hours. They were supporting Ata's wishes with their gentle care, and they were also supporting her adult children's needs at the same time. Read more...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


Thank you Madeleine, for your beautiful piece about Ata’s departure.

I will now add my own eulogy.

Just in case, here is a brief explanation: Our mother died in the Netherlands about four weeks ago. The weeks that followed were enormously hectic. There was a funeral to organize, obituaries, real estate transactions, dealings with banks, packing, dispatching, all of this in a land six thousand miles away from my home and my office. I have now finally returned home, exhausted. The flight to Los Angeles alone took over thirteen hours, before connecting to Sacramento. Writing and posting a brief eulogy for my mother for the blog was something I simply couldn’t get to until now.

This essay is basically a description of what happened, along with some musings about families and life.

But first, a brief comment about my “feelings:” Since Ata’s death on September 15, just two days shy of her 104th birthday, I have felt curiously numb rather than devastated. This is possibly due to how very busy I have been ever since. Read more...

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Century's Worth of Living

(The following is part of a longer essay, in honor of my mother and her incredible life story, still in the making as of this writing)

My mother's name is Ata. She was named after Attila the Hun, the fierce 5th century warrior, nicknamed 'the Scourge of God', whose descendants founded Hungary. She was born in Budapest in 1913, at a time when the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its capital Vienna were the center of culture and art. Budapest, the Empire's second capital, rivaled Vienna in intellectual and artistic life and my mother was born smack in the middle of it all. Her own parents, both intellectuals, made sure she received a top notch education, which included learning Greek and Latin, Mathematics, Physics and Biology.

Ata looks nothing like Attila the Hun and were it not for her beautiful wrinkled face, framed by a thick mane of silver white hair, her tiny, fragile frame could be that of a small child. She has a hunchback, inherited from my grandfather, which makes it difficult for her to maintain her balance without her cane. She will celebrate her 103rd birthday soon, although she says she would rather be 102 forever. Read more...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Old Friends

I met an old friend yesterday. He had been living in a little corner of my mind for the past twenty years, because that’s when we abruptly lost touch. He suddenly fell off the face of my world, for no apparent reason, and I often wondered what had happened to him.

When I first saw him at the grocery store, I thought ‘hey, that guy looks so much like Jeremy, it could be his twin brother,’ and I continued shopping. But the Madeleine from 20 years ago took over and approached this old, balding stranger: ‘Are you Jeremy?’, she said boldly.

I expected a polite 'no, sorry', but a familiar smile spread across this stranger's face and he leaned over to give me a big hug, I wasn't prepared for the real Jeremy. The Jeremy in my head kept competing with this look-alike. Maybe I was talking to a body-double, an alien who had taken over his body, like in the movie 'the body snatchers'. Read more...