À la prochaine, Notre-Dame

June 2018. It was dusk in Paris. I joined the scores of people who sat along the banks of the Seine on the Quai de la Tournelle. Notre-Dame on the Île de la Cité bared its photogenic backsides to all. A Batobus slipped under the Pont d l’Archeveche. Its passengers waved at us and took …

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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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Yellow vests in Beirut

December 2018. Their shouts thundered through the half-deserted streets of Hamra neighborhood. What once seemed to be a mid-sized group of yellow-vested protesters had morphed into isolated mobs of young people, some of whom were bent on destroying public property. A couple of them threw small incendiary devices into a trash dumpster that caught fire. …

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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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