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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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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Accountability on the pitch

December 2016. It was halftime at BayArena in Leverkusen. The home team, Bayer Leverkusen 04, had been sent off the pitch with a chorus of whistles. The offense had been lackluster. The defense had been spotty. If the opponent had been league-leading Bayern Munich, it would’ve been a lopsided game.  As it was, Ingolstadt 04, …

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To trash or not to trash?

July 2018. That’s the question that befuddled me as I scanned for a table at the half-empty McDonald’s restaurant in Rome’s Termini train station. I scouted for a clean space amid all the half-eaten and wrapper-filled food trays that diners had left behind. After clearing away the waste from one table, I pondered the answer …

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There’s always another battlefield

January 2013. The monument to the Battle of the Nations sat on top of a hill at 91 meters – one of the largest of its kind in Europe. Its art nouveau design was outdated. Its granite and concrete construction, although monumental, underwhelmed. As a history buff, I simply had to visit it in 2013 …

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The will to live amid the horror

December 2012. I weathered the cold night air at Krakow, sorting through the emotional swings that overwhelmed me that day. The festive town square was a good balm to the sick feeling I experienced in the most wretched place I had ever visited in all my years of traveling. I underestimated what I was getting …

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