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  • June 07, 2019
  • Lauren Hassani

A Day in the Life

Hans Ulrich, 79

On a typical day, Hans Ulrich, 79, keeps himself occupied with his many hobbies: reading, writing, exercising, volunteering, and spending time with family and friends, to name a few. 

Hans in his study, on the second floor.

He resides in Oegstgeest, a town half an hour southwest of Amsterdam, in a house he has lived in since 1975. He and his first wife raised their four sons in this house, and the walls are filled with art he has collected over many years. Ulrich retired in 2002 after a long career as a history teacher and journalist for NRC Handelsblad, considered the Netherlands’ newspaper of record. Since then, he has focused on writing, authoring 10 books (everything from memoir to history to children’s stories). He works in his upstairs study at all times of the day and night, whenever inspiration hits — sometimes at two a.m. after a bottle of wine. In the morning, he reads the newspaper, drinks coffee, and smokes a pipe. 

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Art by Anwar Abdoullaev in the living room; a portrait of Hans in his garden; and one of the many pipes lying around the house.

Ulrich enjoys spending time with his girlfriend of nine years, Ingrid. The two live just 200 meters apart from each other in the same neighborhood. Although they are engaged, they both like having their own space too much to give up their separate homes. He has 11 grandchildren and is particularly close to grandson Tom, 19, who frequently drops by to hang out. The two enjoy watching the AFC Ajax (their favorite Dutch professional football team), either on tv or sometimes in person at the stadium in Amsterdam. 

With fiancée, Ingrid; a walk to the local shopping center with grandson Tom; and getting ready to bike to downtown Leiden.

On Wednesday afternoons, Hans often goes out with the Kunstclub (Art Club) to cultural events and museums. Many of the club members have autism and Hans is a “buddy” to two of them. Also during the afternoon, Hans usually heads to the nearby Lange Voorst shopping center, a mere five-minute walk from his house. Occasionally he’ll stop by the bookstore to catch a glimpse of his own book on the shelves and see if sales are holding steady. And if he’s feeling hungry, he’ll drop by the local fishmonger for a snack of pickled herring, a Dutch specialty, gulped down in two seconds flat. “It keeps me young!” he declares. ◆

Getting his daily dose of pickled herring.

Photographs by Marco Javier