Retired and "Citizen of the World"

by Betty Audet
(Palmerston, ON, Canada)

My husband was a high school teacher and has been retired for 32 years. No he didn't retire before 65; he has lived along time.

At the time of his retirement, our son was still in elementary school for we had not married until my husband was fifty and I was thirty-seven.

The next spring we took our son for his Easter vacation and an extra week to Jamaica and I think he caught the travel bug then, if he did not already have it from the stories of his father's adventures before he was married. I, too, had done a bit of traveling in my younger years.

When our son was in Grade 12, he finished his pre Christmas exams on Dec 3 and we left for Kenya with a brief stop in Swizerland.

My sister and her husband, a community college professor, were doing a community college project there. He visited five of the great parks, including one where he could walk with special permission. After coming home he chose Environmental Science for his major at the University of Guelph.

Once he was off to university, my husband and I began to travel. We had a great advantage, for he spoke five languages and later added three more so that we did not need tour guides and big hotels.

We travelled just above the level of the backpackers and made a point of getting acquainted with citizens of each country.

We began with a month in each of China and Japan for he had spent ten years in China, including the entire Pacific war part in a Japanese war camp. He had not held this against the Japanese and had later spent three years in Japan. The other Asiatic country we loved was Thailand, where we spent six wonderful weeks one year.

Another big trip was six weeks in Italy after my husband taught himself Italian and tried his mastery of it at the nearest Italian Club. One of my former roommates was a music teacher and competition judge in Milan and so we started with our first few days with her, went on to address an Amnesty International group in Brescia and travelled north and south.

One of the funniest things on this trip was in Florence, where my husband and Japanese man walked through the famous gardens singing in Japanese. (I love Florence and this was my second visit there)

Over the years we spent many months in South America and Europe, including three trips to Ecuador, which we came to love.

Eventually I had a fall in Pennsylvania and broke my hip. After that we felt we needed to be with a group in case there was a problem; at this stage we did numerous bus tours and cruises.

Our last big trip was to the Canadian Arctic - Bathurst Inlet, when my husband was 92.

Since then our travel has been limited to Canada chiefly northern BC where our son now lives with his wife and our only grandchild, now just over one.

Wendy: I am so happy to post this to my website -- talk about retirement travel, wow! Thank you so very much!

Unbelievable... especially learning the languages as your husband did (how many go that far)? I'm sure knowing the language gave you both a much better understanding of each culture and it's peoples.

I have published a pen pal newsletter for 19 years now, and I publish both travel and stories from international writers about their countries -- always fascinating.

Once again, thanks so very much!

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in 2015
by: Betty audet

My husband is now 102 and we live in a retirement home. We still keep fairly active.

Tomorrow we go to "Back to School Party" for retired high school teachers. My husband still walks without a cane and will get to his church for mass twice this week as usual. I will run a meeting for a group of older women at my church.

Other languages are no longer useful in our life but we can sometimes still be useful as volunteers. I can foresee, from what is being said in town, that we may yet be helping new refugees.

Following the "Snake Trumpet" ....
by: Durgesh Kumar Srivastava New Delhi, India

Dear Betty,

I fully agree with Wendy in her praise for your love for travel and your husband's mastery over languages. Yes, if ever GOD ALMIGHTY asks me to ask for a boon, i would ask HIM to make me understand and speak all languages of the world, enjoy the culture and cuisine of all people of the world and give me the opportunity to travel around the world like you two have done in your life. Hats off to you two and your spirit !

The incident that I narrate here happened in early 1950s when I was a child of 10 years or so. There was a Hindu temple near my home which was frequented by many travelling SADHUs - holy ascetics who had renounced the world and moved from place to place in search of spiritual pursuits.

Once an year or so a particular SADHU with a thin body, a forlorn look, flowing hair and beard would visit this temple and take up residence there for a week or so. He had a copper trumpet shaped like a wavy snake The mouth of the snake was the horn of the trumpet and the tail-end served as the mouth piece. The Sadhu was popularly called FAKKAD BABA,loitering old man without a care.

On arriving at the temple, Fakkad Baba would blow his trumpet many times announcing his arrival and the people of the locality would gather around him to listen to his travelogues, stories and discourses. Fakkad Baba may have renounced the world, but it was quite clear that he was a true lover of humanity. He narrated stories of distant lands he had travelled to in the past year, of people, their culture and life.

During this particular visit he told us all that he intended to travel to Tibet and visit the lake at Manasarovar near the base of Mount Kailash the legendary abode of Hindu God Shiva.
Tibet had not yet come under complete control of China and Indians could visit Tibet via Nepal. Fakkad Baba wanted me to come with him on that trip to Tibet. I listened to him with dreamy eyes. I wanted to be like him, travel the world and have my own "Snake Trumpet".

On the day of his departure, I sneaked out of the house with a few clothes packed in my school bag. I did not inform my family. I had hardly travelled a few kilometers from home when we met a friend of my father who enquired where I was headed to. I had to blurt out the truth He spoke very harshly to Fakkad Baba and held my wrists tightly and brought me back home. That was the end of my trip to Tibet. Had I succeeded in getting away, I would have become another Fakkad Baba. Oh, what a life it would have been !
=================================================Durgesh Kumar Srivastava Nee Delhi,India,9-9-10

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