This Book is not an autobiography. It is rather the product of an interaction between imagination, experience, fiction, reminiscence and fantasy. A cocktail mixed in the environment of Unesco – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – and tempered by a sprinkling of light humor.
If you are familiar with the Unesco Secretariat, do not try to recognize the characters in this Book; the identity of each source of inspiration has been carefully disguised. These characters, born of a marriage between ‘mother truth’ and ‘father fiction’ have maternal and paternal chromosomes, but not necessarily in equally divided proportions.
What is the book about ?
You could say it is about traveling, people and countries. It is about national characteristics and cultural differences and similarities. It is about funny situations and amusing anecdotes.
In writing about national characteristics, one is faced with a classic obstacle: generalization. A perilous ground undermined by exceptions.
And yet, there are predominant features and behaviors that can be attributed to a given nation or cultural group. There are many exceptions, of course, but the dominant cliché often retains its merits.
I confess that my ambition in writing this book was to make a modest contribution to international understanding. The frictions and wounds caused by cultural differences and interethnic misinterpretations will only be healed by tolerance. Tolerance based on a better understanding of others.
To pass on the message in the following pages, a humorous treatment was favored – perhaps a little shallow at times.
Let us remember that many noble and dignified subjects can be treated with humor. Unesco itself will not lose its mystique if a couple of comic situations seem to disturb the divine order of things. Humor remains a major humanizing factor.
In reading this book you may not burst into laughter but, I hope, you will smile. Smile and travel. You will meet people of various nationalities, discover some of their idiosyncrasies and colorful manners and observe other cultures with curiosity and, I fancy, tender feelings.
The perception of our differences in the way we behave, eat, work, talk and live may be amusing. It is not amusing because some do it better than others. It is amusing just because it is different, colorful or intriguing.
A brief appendix provides some succinct, basic facts about Unesco which may help you understand Jacques Dupont – the main character of the book – and follow him on his missions around the world.
- Around The World In Eighty Missions: Introduction
- Does Life Start At Sixty?
- My Mission With Maurice Chevalier
- London With Spaghettini
- A Dress For Zeinab
- The Borobudur File
- Spiders, Veronique, And The Other Nuisance
- Kabuki, Sumo, And Sake
- The Vikings And I
- Kama Sutra And Bollywood
- Gay Paris With Nancy And Aunt Lily
- The Battle Of Leningrad
- Who Burnt The Library Of Alexandria?
- Viva Zapata!
- The Farewell Party
- Unesco – Sunny Side Up
Copyright © 2000 by Jacques Tocatlian
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American copyright conventions.
No part of this book, text and drawings, may be reproduced or transmitted, in any forms or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.
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