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Here I would love to share with you our travels and adventures as international mushroom consultants. About living in Italy, the Veneto area near Venice; in Indonesia, central Java. Why we love the southeast of the United States and moved back from Italy. Our love for gardening, the botanical way. Sharing with you our manifold treasures from exotic places and even offering several at Spectrenoir: http://ebay.to/2xI69uc, for others to enjoy. As well as high end silver items from Giovanni Raspini, Italy. I also do classes and consulting... too much to list here! Love to bring back some romance and quality to the daily life of others... 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Husband Pieter's DANGEROUS Trip back from India

Well, DANGEROUS it would be, even more than that...

On Monday, November 30 of 1992, I did drop Pieter off at the Atlanta airport for his solo flight to India, due to specific problems in which I could not consult.
So he flew on KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to Amsterdam, The Netherlands and on Tuesday he stayed at the Ibis hotel.
On Wednesday, December 01, Pieter flew non-stop to Bombay, now Mumbai, on this new flight.
He was seated in seat 9B, just behind Royal Class - our Courtesy Card always yielded good seats and often an upgrade!
Pieter also had booked the flight for Dad in March, with 10% senior discount for fl 1,074.00.
He arrived around 23:30 in Bombay and had to wait rather long before his red-white-blue banded suitcase appeared on the luggage carousel.
They did drop him off at the luxury hotel Centaur, Airport in Bombay, India.
Formerly known as Centaur Airport Hotel it is now renamed Hotel Sahara Star Mumbai, India click link.
What a luxury!
But on the way from International Airport to the hotel, Pieter did for the 1st time see Asia's most densely populated slum area...
India has such STARK CONTRASTS!
INDIA, the SLUMS of MUMBAI (BOMBAY) seen around the AIRPORT and after take-off, incredible views! Just click the link for a video...
At the time it were 2,000,000 people living in shanties on 1.5 square mile.
We all cannot realize enough how fortunate we  are for enjoying such preferential treatment in this world!
You can see more photos: Mumbai Airport Slum.
It has changed our lives forever... and we both have great difficulty each year when the Holiday Shopping Frenzy starts... All about $$$ and WANT!
And click here: Death-trap toilets: the hidden dangers of Mumbai's poorest slums.
On December 2, Pieter woke up early due to time difference and he did travel that day by plane to Coimbatore and than on by car into the mountains to Ooty.
With such a direct, non-stop flight to Mumbai, travel was a lot more relaxed!
That was Thursday...
Sunday, December 6, Pieter went very peaceful to a Catholic Church in Ooty.
But in the north of India this would turn into a Barbaric Sunday... with the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya.
  Rioting also had spread to Bombay, as published in our Dutch/US bi-weekly paper The Windmill

By Thursday, December 10, the Indian Government halted ALL traffic! 
Plants and offices had to close...
They were trying to calm the whole nation down! So far hundreds of dead from the clashes between Hindus and Muslims.

Pieter got instructed to remain inside the hotel, people from Pond's India staff, came to him, walking for still getting some work done and problems solved.
It was a scary situation!
Pieter was unable to call with the USA... So he was forced to try via The Netherlands to leave a message for me with my Parents.
The female switchboard operator tried time and time again, finally she got through! Only to hear my Dad hang up on her, as he thought it was a wrong connection.
She tried again and Pieter could take over, so Dad recognized his voice and Pieter than explained him about the dangerous situation he was in.
Dad in turn called me in Dublin, Georgia/USA with the message that Pieter was stuck in the South of India and couldn't travel and that it looked rather dangerous...
Finally, Pieter managed to get through with a call to the USA and informed me that on Friday morning by 5:00 A.M. (which would be still Thursday evening here in the USA, 18:30 the staff would try to move him out to Coimbatore, even though driving a car was still prohibited! 
But he desperately needed to leave the country!
The airlines in India were all on strike and also the trains...
The evening of December 10, 1992, I had to go to a Ladies Night from Pieter's Rotary Club.
I'd handed the Rotary Club's President a note, requesting prayers for Pieter, who would be on the road at that time, trying to get out of India, somehow!
Pieter was in danger... and they sure did pray for him!
When I came home that night, I had a hard time to go to bed.
Next day on Friday, December 11, for keeping my sanity, I did drive all the way to the Atlanta Antique Show... and then I stayed up.  Read all the magazines I had to still read, writing letters and stayed up with burning eyes till 2:30 on Saturday...
Calling once again with my Parents, but they had not heard anything yet... so I went to bed exhausted.
Then Mom called at 4:15 on Saturday, December 12, to tell me that Pieter had arrived at the railway station in Horst/Sevenum, The Netherlands and Dad was on his way to pick him up.
Pieter made it out of India SAFE!
By 5:15 Pieter called me and told me his incredible story.
Brother Martin gained a beautiful black lambskin jacket that Pieter had bought for him from Pond's Leather Garment Factory, just like his one from an earlier trip in February 1991. For only Fl. 200.00 quite a bargain!
Pieter had gotten the instruction to NOT talk at all, while they were driving the 2.5 hours down to the city of Coimbatore.
The driver, a courageous staffer from Pond's, would handle all the talking!
They got stopped by military a dozen times but each time they let them go on...
Also they passed through a rather dangerous area, where quite some turmoil was going on.
So they reached Coimbatore  airport, but of course no flights and no trains either.
In such a situation it proves valuable for working under the umbrella of a big and good company such as Pond's, a subsidiary of Unilever. They have power in such a case!
Via the grape vine they learned that a high ranking military guy had to fly from Coimbatore to Bombay in a usual 2.5 hour lasting flight.
It took a lot of money for getting Pieter, together with some more stranded business people working for Unilever (from Great Britain and the US) on the same flight with that military guy!
It was a small plane and they'd bribed a pilote for flying from the military airport to Bombay.
But all was not clear yet, due to the domestic airport being completely shut down, they now needed approval for landing at the international airport!
With numerous phone calls, that got cleared as well.
When Pieter landed in Bombay, it made him instantly feel almost home because soon he would be under the wings of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and he would really be leaving!
Instead of the usual combi-jumbo for half freight/half passengers, used for this stretch, KLM had sent a full passenger plane because so many people got stranded in India during these riots.
What a grateful feeling for getting out SAFE!

The death toll had risen to 1,400...

On December 14, I could finally pick up my flying Dutchman at the Atlanta Airport!

END of a dangerous journey...


  1. Hello Mariette, Who knew that mushroom culture was such a perilous undertaking? Seriously, poor countries need advice like Pieter's to develop and get out from the crushing poverty that you also described in this post. But those same problems can make the country unstable and dangerous. We can imagine the relief from both your and Pieter's perspectives at his finally getting out of the country. However, terrorism and random danger has unfortunately also come to the United States, once considered one of the safest of havens.

    1. Dearest Jim,
      Well it certainly was not the mushroom cultivation that caused the above problems. But due to the vast travel distance, one ends up on the other end of the world. As you said, poor countries need the expertise from us and both of us wanted to conclude our career with a way to give back to those less privileged. If only more educated people would share their knowledge for some years, we could create a different world.
      This was a trip we never will forget and a very dangerous one.
      Sadly indeed, terrorism has entered our borders and does exist within our once safe United States!
      The little people are mainly victims of it, as politician live a protected and sheltered life...

  2. Liebe Mariette,

    herzliche Grüße und ein gutes neues Jahr

    1. Liebe Elisabeth,
      Danke sehr und gleichfalls für dich ein schöner Silvester Abend und eine Glückliches 2019!
      Liebe Grüße,

  3. What a story and how grateful Pieter must feel to that courageous driver who managed successfully to get him away and on to a flight away from harm.
    My husband, unknowingly, flew into Beirut and found himself in the middle of a war zone - all he could see out of the airport windows were missiles flying about everywhere. He stayed in the airport, and was so relieved when he eventually managed to catch a plane and fly out again. Luckily I knew nothing about it until he returned back home.

    1. Dearest Rosemary,
      Oh yes, very grateful and he made good with him during a subsequent visit.
      Without Unilever's long reaching arm, it never would have been possible.
      Like your husband, in those countries one can constantly run into unstable situations that can turn into a war zone.
      At least you both understand the feelings associated with such situations.

  4. What a relief it must have been for both of you and for other families to be able to get out of such a dangerous situation alive.
    Have a wonderful New Year, full of health and happiness.

    1. Dearest Sami,
      Oh, you bet what a relief that was to finally be into each others arms again!
      There was one American, rather heavy built, who almost had a heart attack from having to run for catching that KLM flight... Everyone just collapsed into their seats!
      Happy New Year to you and yours a well and above all, good health.

  5. Dearest Mariette,
    What an adventure for Pieter and for you having to wait at home.
    My brother traveled and lived world wide. He always said even when living in a country it was entirely too easy to forget that poverty exists on such a huge scale.
    A joyful and happy New Year to you and Pieter.

    1. Dearest Suzi,
      Oh, it was nerve wrecking and for me, hours long not hearing anything was very tough.
      Extreme poverty does exist and we all should do something about it, lifting them out of it and education or job training as we did is one of the best things to do.
      Wishing you and Proge + fur babies also a Happy New Year with good health for all!

  6. Mariette, many people in the USA do use Christmas (and Lent before Easter) as a times to volunteer in shelters and/or give money to worthy charieties. Americans tend to be people who try to give back ... along with their materialism. I think there's hope for us yet! :) I see it in young people. The millennials have the reputation of spending their money not for cars or homes, but for travel and experiences.

    Glad Pieter made it back safely, and his story had a good ending.

    1. Dearest Debbie,
      Indeed, Americans are the most generous people on earth!
      Most of the millennials belong to the same group that also love to take selfies. They do center themselves against whatever building or world wonder they snatch a picture of. So aptly called 'selfie'...
      That does very little for the poverty in other countries since they actually have no direct contact with the culture, with the people or their struggle for life. That only comes from speaking their language, working with them and sharing a meal with them around the dinner table inside their home! Not at a hotel or restaurant chain that caters to the universal taste...
      Both of us are oh so grateful for the good ending of this adventure!

  7. Fortunately, he survived!! Happy New Year 2019 Mariette!

    1. Dearest Anne,
      Thanks God he did!
      Happy New Year to you and yours.

  8. Replies
    1. Dearest Katie Isabella,
      Indeed, very riveting and we were oh so grateful for Pieter's return to safety!

  9. It would have been a terrible experience and oh so scary, reading this made me scared but thankfully he survived it

    1. Dearest Jo-Anne,
      One never knows in what sudden situation we might get entangled in.
      Grateful for Pieter and other businessmen that got out in time.

  10. I’m glad your husband Pieter could come back safely. I wouldn’t be able to go to bed, either, if I were in your situation. It’s very sad so many people had to die.

    I wish you a very happy new year!

    1. Dearest Tamago,
      No, sleeping is out of question... You cannot relax your mind in such a situation.
      Sad indeed that so many people on this earth find their death in a horrible way.
      Wishing you both and furry boys a Happy New Year!

  11. That certainly was a scary time, not knowing what would happen and unable to have much contact. Thank goodness the company was able to work out a plan to get Pieter out safe and sound. Traveling and living in another country definitely opens one's eyes to the struggles of others and the great inequalities that exist. Wishing you a happy new year's eve.

    1. Dearest Tammy,
      Yes, we owe a lot of gratitude towards Pond's India for doing the utmost for getting Pieter ,and other stranded business people related to their company, out safely!
      You no doubt know about these struggles first hand as you've been around enough for seeing what is really going on in this world. So often it is being completely ignored, out of convenience I guess...
      Happy New Year to you both and to your boys - a bit later...

  12. How good it is that everything ended happily. He survived a great dangerous journey, but you were certainly terrified. * Thank you very much for commenting on me, full understanding of my experiences. Happy 2019. Greetings .

    1. Dearest Giga,
      Thank you for your kind words and yes, it was the most terrifying thing for having to live through... You are to be admired and one day I might remember how to go my solo road, as you do. The only difference is that you have family around you and our family is across the Atlantic Ocean. But dear friends at times can mean even more.
      Continue to be strong and reminisce on all the fond memories together. That's exactly what I'm preparing for and hope to finish timely! Memories in the end will be all that is left.
      Sending you hugs and the very best for 2019, especially health wise!

  13. Sorry you and family had to go through this. It is a miracle it turned out as well as it did. In some of the countries life means nothing to them. I am through going overseas anymore. The entire world is manifested with bad people. Take care and so pleased when you take time to visit. MAY THE NEW YEAR BE KIND TO YOU AND FAMILY.

    1. Dearest LV.,
      Thank you and yes, it was quite a time for having to live through. If you state you and your family, it was and is only the two of us here in the USA. For 1st generation immigrants a lot of things are never easy for going it solo. We have dear friends on this side of the Atlantic and we both have a strong Belief. That keeps a human being going.
      Sending you blessings and all the best for 2019.

  14. Dear Mariette,

    I am learning much from your posts of your work in India.

    I am amazed at the crowding of the slum. I just can't imagine living like that. Striking photograph of the crowding and contrast.

    The more I read, the more I give thanks to God where I am and what I have.

    You have experienced more in life than I could ever imagine.

    Many Blessing


    1. Dearest Betsy,
      Thank you very much and we sure can give thanks to God for having had the privilege for being born in a better part of the world! Just imagine how it could have been otherwise?!
      This international consulting has completely changed our lives. It made us feel so grateful for everything we have compared to others. Even if you at times face difficulties, it still is nothing compared to the majority of people on this planet.
      We also are convinced that there is a Heaven, it has to be because so many have absolutely no chance in this life for getting any joy! Especially the young people should be able to see what we have seen and to talk with the locals the way we could, and work with them etc. That would educate them a lot!
      Glad the commercial holiday season is over with as it only is enslaving the western world to more WANT! That never buys you happiness, it is only so short lived and how many 'gifts' get returned or never ever used...?! Sad if you know the other side of the coin for so many billions in this world.
      Both of us do love people and that's the only reason we have done this for many years and it has made us so rich inside our hearts!

  15. Oh my goodness! This was a very suspenseful tale! How scary for you and your husband! So thankful it had a safe outcome.

    Happy New year to you both!

    1. Dearest Janey,
      Indeed, very suspenseful and thanks to God, with a good ending.
      Happy New Year to you and yours.


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