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  • Hulda Bachman-Neeb

Rootless

The first few years of my life, from my 2nd to my 6th, were not years a child psychologist might prescribe. My brother and I, both toddlers, were in Japanese concentration camps when the Second World War hit the Pacific Rim.


Those years were chaotic, and very unhealthy, to say the least. It is a miracle that we survived, my mother, my brother and myself. My father was away in Australia with the Allied Army. The years after the camp continued to be chaotic. Where was our footing? We traveled back to the Dutch East Indies, back to the Netherlands, then to Dutch New Guinea. It did not help our learning capabilities, but my brother and I made it through school, with tutors and help.


All this traveling gave me no roots. I studied languages at the Interpreter School in Geneva and Munch, but still did not know where to settle, and especially why I needed to settle in a certain place. After a few jobs in Holland, that did not root me either, I contacted the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hague, hoping I could get a job at an Embassy. I was called for an interview and shortly afterwards received the message that I was accepted. I had the choice of Cairo, Baghdad or Damascus. I opted for Damascus. This was in 1963, when Damascus was still a city with many monuments and Syria a country with a lot of history. Then, from 1963 till 1996 I traveled the world. I had 27 assignments, just to name a few: Moscow, New Delhi, Nairobi. Manilla. These assignments lasted from a few weeks to two to three years.


On the way, I married my husband and for the last ten years of my career we traveled together. I am not a tourist in that sense of the word, I don’t call on travel agents, or join cruises or travel groups. I had the tremendous fortune of airline tickets, hotels, housing paid by my government, but especially I enjoyed the benefits of my daily life in these countries. It gave me the possibility to explore the culture, the customs, the religions. Through the Embassy I had access to many events and to many people of all walks in life.


I returned to Holland every two years in between the longer postings. I was happy to be reunited with the family and happy again to be sent on to my next assignment. I have traveled, I have enjoyed it immensely, and now I am well settled in the beautiful state of Colorado.


NOTE: My blog post was originally featured as a guest post here: https://storeybookreviews.com/2020/04/guest-post-giveaway-perils-and-pearls/

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