After a five year expatriate assignment in The Netherlands, as The Martin Family thought that we had seen the world. In fact, we thought that we had changed the world. We moved to Europe in October, 1989; the Berlin Wall fell on November 9, 1989. Coincidence? Of course not!
Living in The Netherlands, and taking advantage of the ‘cash option’ in lieu of annual trips back to the States, the family had seen Europe: trips to Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Luxembourg, the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, France, Czechoslovakia (before the break) and Switzerland. Through his job, Dan had added stops in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It was a grand adventure. The kids grew up in an international environment. They developed confidence and tolerance. Wonderfully, the driving license age was 21, a spectacular arrangement that we didn’t fully appreciate until we moved back to New Hampshire:
“The city installed two speed bumps between our house and the high school,” my wife, Nazy, said.
“This occurred two weeks after Melika got her driving license, right?” I replied.
“It’s not a coincidence is it?”
“No. The police stopped me…”
“… He thought I was Melika. He wanted to flirt.”
“So that’s how she avoids tickets.”
“Didn’t work for me, Dan.”
It had been difficult to ‘come home’. We had changed as a result of our time in The Hague. Nazy coped by establishing the International Women’s Club of the Upper Valley – an organization that is still going strong 20 years later and many years after we departed. The kids were equally adventurous:
After graduating from Princeton, Mitra found a job in NYC with a small marketing company which had somehow landed the Exxon account. She managed to arrange a customer-financed, round-the-world trip to ‘fully understand how people culturally respond to gasoline stations’. In Buenos Aires, she was introduced to The Tango – which quickly became her passion. Her parents were always supportive:
“Tango?” I asked. “Couldn’t you think of something a little more obscure?”
However, proving me wrong, and with her partner, Stefan, she subsequently established Oxygen Tango, the world’s greatest Tango School.
During his undergraduate days at Syracuse, Darius flew to Venezuela because “it was the cheapest flight to another continent.” He celebrated his Ph.D. by trekking through the Cambodian jungle. He vacationed in Ethiopia.
“Ethiopia?” I asked. “Do you want to lose weight?”
He is on the faculty at the American University of Beirut – a location selected from choices that included Lahore, Pakistan and Shandong, China.
After graduation from UC, Santa Barbara, Melika chose Law School.
I was astonished. Melika had used the internet search term “party school” to narrow her choices for undergraduate studies. Another requirement? A beach. And, finally, the winning school had to be at least ½ a continent from the parental home. This new idea seemed to be less than fully baked:
“Law School?” I asked. “Do you want to be a lawyer?”
“Lawyers make a lot of money, Dad.”
“Do you want to make a lot of money?”
“Because I spend a lot of money, Dad.”
“Finally,” I thought. “Something we can agree on.”
While we lived in The Netherlands, there was a Dutch tax regulation that offered a very good deal to expatriates – for 5 years. We stayed in The Netherlands for 5 years. Although we liked New England, we really missed Europe. So, when Melika, our youngest, entered university, I started looking for an international assignment. It took a year - and even then we had to agree on residency.
Zapped to Zürich describes the delicate negotiations that resulted in our relocation to Switzerland - and the initial attempts to find a place to live. The latter effort caused Dan to utter a sentence never expected: "You have to show me something a lot more expensive."
Kastle Kapfsteig describes the (initial) end of the housing search process. But... would you rent from a landlady who locked you out of your own bathroom?
Springtime Shopping describes discovery of the classy designer outlet in Mendrisco, Switzerland