• cv: Dr. Kim H. Veltman

cv: Dr. Kim H. Veltman

24.02.2019

Annual Letter 2018

It has been a wonderful and extraordinary year. At home everything remains largely the same. I am blessed with and grateful to a handful of persons who help in daily life. Once a week, Nel collects and brings back my laundry from the nearby convent where my niece is Mother Superior. Once every 2 weeks, Mahnaz and Saeed clean my home. About every 2 weeks Charles tends my garden and fixes things about the home. Weekly walks with Nino have diminished since his move to Heerlen, but we did walk to Vaals (35 km.). New walks with Saeed, --whom I also give English lessons--, and the neighbours Stef and Bouwkje, still need to be developed into a regular regime. Dave fixes my computer woes. Most months there is a concert in Eijsden.

Academically

I began correcting the names of the perspective bibliography, linking each name, where possible, with a biographical website and listing perspective titles chronologically under each author. 12 months later I am at the letter L. Next year, I must finish letters L to Z and begin publishing the 8 volumes of the perspective bibliography. In October, I wrote a draft essay on Post Truth, to which I have added a brief appendix with a history of communication theories. In December, I wrote an essay on art, architecture and religion which may lead to a future book.

There were two academic trips. A first form 14 March to 4 April took me to Kathmandu to Madhu, Jaya and family. Last year they filmed 26 lectures on Alphabets of Life. This year the lectures were put online on YouTube. There was also a lecture at the School of Journalism. The second trip began 23 November and ended on 18 December. I gave an opening keynote at the International Conference on Knowledge Organization in Academic Libraries followed by a 20 day pilgrimage tour of temples in Tamil Nadu. Meanwhile, the International Organization of Scientific Research and Development has stated that I am to receive a Best Researcher award.

Loss

In June 2017 my friend Michael Kupka was given 30 days to live. I promised to write an e-mail with music for the rest of his life. 30 days became 9 months but in February Michael passed away. In May, Professor Eric McLuhan died suddenly while at a conference in South America. In July, Professoressa Giuseppina Saccaro del Buffa Battisti (91), whom I have known since the 1970’s, who arranged for my guest professorship in Rome, also passed away. The funeral brought together Roman friends: Paola, Giuseppe Maria, Anna dell’Agata, Salvatore and Nicolò Quattromimi. Then there were two more subtle losses. My auntie (91), who was Mother Superior for over 30 years, is now bedridden. She is in a closed convent, which means I shall never see her again. In February, I went for my annual visit to Christel on her birthday only to find her in a care home. In the past 10 months, she has been moved to a series of care homes and most recently to a psychiatric ward. Whether she will ever again be a free person is an open question. I visited her in October because she was depressed. I made a number of efforts to help but sometimes we are confronted by situations in which, for all our good intentions, we cannot change reality.

Regeneration 

47 years ago I was best man to Ronald Ng and Tisa Ho. In January, Ronald invited me to London on the occasion of his being given a Freedom of the City of London. He put me up in the Oriental Club, which was like walking through a time loop and living a London as it was a century ago. It was an inspiring time. We went to the National Gallery, British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, and had a dinner at Rules. Ronald introduced me to 47 Monkeys Gin (and Tonic): splendid. There was also a wonderful morning and lunch with Louisa Service, the daughter of the Hemmings from my London days in the 1970s.

On 18 January, there was a visit by Pussycat (Andrey Kotov). On 28 January, we were joined by Vasyay and Sashay Churanov. On 29 January we made a trip to the west coast of the Netherlands: Goes, Vlissingen, and Middelburg. On the 30th, the Russians departed. On 1 February I was in Wolfenbüttel to see Christel, Gisela, Tobias and Bernward Comes and Frau Solf, with a visit to Westerburg, Halberstadt, and Blankenburg. Immediately following, there were 5 wonderful days with Professor Peter Steiger with visits to Kinder des Paradieses, the Philharmonie, the Museumsinsel and Schloss Charlottenburg. 

The trip to Kathmandu included lovely early morning walks and a magical weekend to a hotel on Mystic Mountain. There was also a wonderful Pranayama ceremony of Ashim Acharya, where I was the only non-Nepali. 

In July, there was a magical week when Madhu visited with his family. We visited Eijsden, Lanaye, Brussels, Ghent. We saw the Place Royale, Manneke Pies, the Atomium, the Castle of the Counts of Flanders, the Ghent Altarpiece, Mission Impossible in Imax, and enjoyed a Belgian version of Italian cuisine. Then there were almost surprise visits. In late August, Salvatore and his son Nicolò came to visit and we had day trips to Delft, Rotterdam and Liège. For my 70th anniversary, Alan came from England, with a tour of Maastricht, a bicycle tour to Lanaye, Eijsden and a dinner with Bernd Alexander. The sad trip to Christel saw wonderful outings to the Tetzelstein and the Reitlinger Tal.

After the Hyderabad conference I needed to be in the light to escape the Northern darkness prior to the Winter Solstice. In Chennai, I saw the Church where Saint Thomas introduced Christianity in 52 A.D. In Trichy, I was guest of honour at the Christmas party of Bishop Heber College complete with O come all ye Faithful in Tamil and the 3 Kings portrayed by 3 young ladies with painted beards. In Kerala, I discovered that approximately 70% of the population are Christians. But it was the pilgrimage trip to Indian temples that proved an apotheosis of a special kind: with over 60 temples in 20 days. Some were as small as a house; others between 30 and 50 acres. Many were in the middle of cities. Some were on sacred hilltops, others at the foot of hilltops. I saw fresco cycles from the Ramayana; 1,000 year old banyans; a 3,000 year mango tree and some temples over 4,000 years old: i.e. 1,000 years older than the oldest Hebrew structures.

There were Siva temples linked with the 5 elements, Vishnu temples, a Brahma temple, a Parvati temple, Ganesha temples, a Kailash temple, a king of snakes (nagaraja) temple. The temples were memorable, remarkable, monumental; some austere, others breathtaking in their wondrous details. On the last day, there was a remarkable bird, Jatayu, (from the Ramayana): 200 feet long, 150 feet broad, 70 feet in height and a floor area of 15,000 square feet. The Indian light healed my soul; the Indian temples rekindled in me a sense of wonder in art and architecture directed at God. There is new hope and new appreciation of the miracle of life.

I rejoice in genuine friends who are loyal. The oldest friendship is now 64 years. An old-fashioned letter correspondence is deepening one friendship. In India, a young student from Bangalore is the latest friendship. Thank you for all your kindnesses: for calls, e-mails, cards, letters, walks for giving me courage to go on. Thank you for smiles and thank you for laughter. Christmas day had a magical concert from the choir in Saint Petersburg. 27 and 29 saw dinners with the neighbours. 27, 28 and 30 December saw three lovely walks with Dries, Wim and Nino respectively. May there be health, hope, light and joy your life. Simple things are becoming more precious: the sun shining on a green field; the smile of another person; just being alive without pain. Happy Christmas and a Joyous New Year. May the miracle of life be yours consciously. May you have more joy, wonder and the memorable.
 

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