After the three-week trip in April and May 1996 on which I visited Amsterdam, Bremen, Newcastle upon Tyne, Toulouse, Ankara, Bucharest, and Kiev, I took three short trips on which I visited only a single place, stayed for at most one week in the place concerned, and gave a course and/or attended a conference as invited speaker. On these short trips, two of which took place in December 1996 and one of which took place in July 1997, I visited Beijing twice and Manila once. After these short trips, there came a series of trips on which I visited only a single place, but stayed for three weeks in the place concerned and gave a one-week course and a two-week research training. On these trips, which took place during the last four months of 1997, I visited Jakarta, Islamabad, Curitiba (Brazil), and Johannesburg.
When I am in a foreign country, I always try to get in contact with the local people. To get in contact with ordinary persons, I walk around in residential areas. In almost all places where I have been, there are residents that approach you for a talk. Often, they are eager to hear about the people and culture in my home country and to tell about the people and culture in their home country. I consider these contacts valuable because they give usually a better picture of the people and culture in the country concerned than the ones provided by politicians and journalists. They also convinced me that the Dutch nation has a recognizable cultural identity, just like all nations that I have visited, in contrary to the controversial comment of Queen Máxima on the Dutch identity in 2007.
During the three-week stays in Jakarta, Islamabad, Curitiba, and Johannesburg, there was more time than before to get in contact with the local people. It made me realize that everywhere the people were equally friendly and welcoming in spite of big cultural differences. This gave me the idea that I should write down my experiences with people and culture in the developing country that I visited. However, after my two-year leave, temporary jobs and unemployment comprised my professional life back in the Netherlands till my retirement. This situation led to the postponement of the intended writing till about a year before my retirement.
In July 2012, I took up this writing in the form of the blog found on this website. However, in October 2012, after 11 blog posts, I got stuck. The memories that remained after almost 15 years are not detailed enough to get the impressions that I experienced across in writing. This is what caused the untimely end of the blog.
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