Deathly silence in a Leipzig hostel

January 2013. I lingered in the lobby of a hostel in Leipzig, Germany. My train for Dessau wasn’t leaving for a couple of hours. The couch was comfortable enough to sleep on – and I was tempted to use it the night before. I had sensed a miasma of doom in my room for the …

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Cheers, fears and jeers over the Pacific

December 2000. The plane was on its last hour of flight across the Pacific toward Osaka, Japan. A lawyer handed out business cards while flight attendants prepared the cabin for landing. I fiddled with a travel voucher that was handed out to each passenger the last time that the plane was parked at the gate …

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Lone man on the bus

June 2005. “De donde eres (Where are you from)? Guatemala?” asked the cab driver. “De los Estados Unidos (From the United States)," I replied. “No hablo español muy bien (I don’t speak Spanish very well).” “Ah!” he said in a knowing tone. “It’s very hard to go north,” he continued in halting English. He grinned …

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The pyramid’s shadow

January 2019. New Year’s Day. My anticipation had been building up for days. They’re the main reasons for my visit to Egypt – the Pyramids at Giza, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. I dodged the touts pushing camel and horseback rides, and the beasts’ droppings to reach the biggest edifice – …

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The importance of being James

July 2018. “James.” It took a while for the name to register in my mind. “James,” the voice repeated. “Here I am. Sorry,” was all I could say. I took my latte and spotted a seat at the corner of a Starbucks café at Munich’s Hofgarten. It was probably common for customers not to respond …

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