Second class, chair

June 2012.  The overnight express to Varanasi was late. Huge rats scavenged for food under the rails and benches at Lucknow’s Charbagh station - an imposing structure with a striking Mughal façade. The setting provided a splendid contrast that illustrated the paradox that was India. Although the Republic promotes a classless society, class still mattered …

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Finding my bearings along Atitlán

May 2005. It was my third day in the small village of San Marcos La Laguna on the western shore of Lago Atitlán in the Guatemalan highlands. My backpack lay beside my bed, still unpacked. I was scheduled to leave that morning for Antigua and onward to the Mayan ruins of Tikal. But I had …

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December 24, Montevideo

December 2017. Hordes descended on the flea market at Parque Jose Enrique Rodo, looking for last-minute deals on everything from toys and antiques to clothes and kitchenware. Many looked forward to gatherings that were brewing all over the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, ready to explode into celebration at the stroke of midnight. Some dusted off …

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Courtside with my father

September 1997. American Pete Sampras had easily beaten Alex Rădulescu of Romania in three sets at the US Open Tennis Championships. From the stands, my father leaned back contentedly on his seat. He recounted some of Sampras’ best points. We might not have been courtside, but he must have felt like we were. I flew …

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Malilla’s social network

June 2018. “How often do you use Facebook?” The students around the table didn’t seem to understand the question I posed to them. I mentioned other tools – “Twitter? Instagram?” They didn’t answer. Finally, one of them shrugged and said, “I don’t use them.” The others nodded in agreement. “What about e-mail? Phone texting? WhatsApp?” …

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A travel guide to the future ruins of Selçuk

December 2015. From the upper tier of seats in the amphitheater, the ruins of Ephesus weren't as impressive as they were at ground level. Its temples and gates were mere slabs and broken columns of stone, brick and concrete. Although the Library of Celsus was impressive, its façade was all that was left of a …

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