I distinctly remember it was June 1980. I had just turned forty-five and had been promoted Director of a large division. That Monday morning I was peacefully planning my week at my desk, hoping to catch up with the backlog, when my Secretary came into the office, white as a sheet, to tell me that the Assistant Director General wanted to see me immediately about an urgent problem. Five minutes later he told me that I was to leave on a mission to Djakarta that very evening to represent Unesco at the Borobudur Festival.
Read More The Borobudur File
I opened my eyes. The room was dark. It was not my room. The street lights projected a ghostly silhouette onto the window. As I moved in my bed, the silhouette turned and spoke. I recognized Brigitte’s voice: “Are you alright, Jacques?”
Read More Spiders, Véronique and other nuisance
The twelve-hour flight had resulted in a first-rate jet lag. Unfortunately, Melatonine had not yet been marketed and I was desperately struggling to sleep in my tiny room at the Tokyo Hotel. One would assume that at fifty, after twenty years of extensive traveling, my body would have adjusted more easily to these time changes. But not at all! As a matter of fact, it was getting worse as the years went by.
Read More Kabuki, Sumo and Sake
Brigitte had offered to drive me to the airport since she wanted to do some shopping with Françoise at the IKEA department store in Roissy, only a few minutes from the airport.
Read More The Vikings and I
All the directors had been convened for a meeting with the Director-General in Conference Room N° 2. We were told about the financial situation, the necessary cuts in the on-going budget and the inevitable restrictions that had to be imposed on every program. You could sense nervousness pervading the room. When the Director-General spoke of the necessity to cut down on missions, the temperature of room N°2 rose by several degrees.
Read More Kama Sutra and Bollywood
On D-Day, Nancy arrived. I took the day off from work and went to the airport with Brigitte and Françoise to fetch her. There was a lot of excitement in the air before the plane arrived. The three of us spoke at the same time. Nobody listened.
Read More Gay Paris with Nancy and Aunt Lily
Three thousand miles after leaving Paris we landed in dark, cold Leningrad. The flight being relatively short, Brigitte could not see why we had waited so long to come to Leningrad. ‘To think that before the age of the railroad,’ said studious Françoise, ‘the journey by coach from Paris took as much as six weeks!’ Aunt Lily informed us that nowadays the trip from Moscow to Vladivostok with the Trans-Siberian railway takes more than seven days. She had inquired at a Paris travel Office, but fortunately had not pursued the idea, remembering the train scenes from the film ‘Dr. Jivago.’
Read More The Battle of Leningrad
Inchaalah, Maalesh and Maktub.
Dust, confusion, noise, anarchy. I was in Cairo.
This must have been my sixth or seventh mission in Egypt. In spite of some minor inconveniences I loved being in Egypt. I found Egyptians hospitable, colorful, humane, amiable and delightfully amusing.
Read More Who Burnt the Library of Alexandria?
Our bus was caught in total traffic anarchy. Unperturbed, the Guide continued to talk with ardor, holding the microphone with one hand and gesticulating with the other.
Read More Viva Zapata!
My farewell party is the last and, therefore, the most recent event which took place during my life at Unesco. And yet, it is a most foggy and confused recollection. The latter part of the evening is especially blurred, even though the party keeps haunting my thoughts. It all happened as in a dream.
Read More The Farewell Party
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