The joy of chicken in a corner of London

December 2018. The line wasn’t as long as I feared. It went north on Earl’s Court Road and stopped short of the street corner. A yellow-vested security officer kept it in order, regularly checking inside the restaurant to see how many people to let in. Those in line excitedly talked about what they were having. …

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Just get me to Beijing!

June 2011. I felt defeated but relieved when the woman behind the ticket window asked, “Where?” “Beijing,” I replied. “Passport, please.” She issued the train ticket and advised, “Run. The train leaves in fifteen minutes.” “Xie xie (thank you).” I ran toward the gate and joined the queue for the high-speed train. I didn’t have …

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Optimist central

June 2018.  The trams plying the streets of Strasbourg proclaimed – Europtimist.  Lodging prices were rising and rooms were nearly impossible to book in the city for July. The optimism of Strasbourg businesses wasn’t misplaced. In a few days, hundreds of parliamentarians, their staffs, journalists and special interest groups would descend on this French-German border …

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White nights over Siberia

June 2013. Midnight. “Can you let me in?” I yelled at the man behind the door. He murmured something in Russian. “Why doesn’t he open the door?” I wondered. I tried to unlock the door again with my key and it still wouldn’t budge. I knocked harder, and the man’s voice grew more belligerent. It …

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