Monday, January 21, 2008


My week in the Dublin office offers me a chance to hit the ground running, albeit in the rain. Having set up 30 meetings, my workday requires the endurance of an Ironman, the intensity of a sprinter, and the agility of a decathlete, but at night I learn the Irish saying “Sober as a Judge,” and its late night spoonerism “Jober as a Sudge.” Over a dozen pints of Guinness, it’s Irish courage that comes about, not Dutch, and friendships blossom.

A Thursday night Brazilian party teaches me the ways of FoHo, as I miserably explain my dance failing in Rio de Janeiro to two Brazilian ladies from Goyaz, and recount to a Valencian, my poignant tale with the Girl from Ipanema, one that concluded with a long kiss goodnight, splashing puddles, chasing a taxi cab in the rain, and the consolation of two Brazilian bouncers who longingly annunciated the word “Belleza.” He philosophically rationalized that deeper understanding could have revealed incompatibility. I told him of my faith in the world, as on my return to California a guitarist aside me in a cafĂ© began playing the “Girl from Ipanema” as my thoughts spilled onto a journal page. I approached the man with a coffee and told him, “I know her.”

On Friday I met had a night out of Buckfast, a potent Irish drink, with a dozen friends from India. Spilling into the night with all the Dubliners about whom Joyce wrote a book by that very namesake, my friend Giovanni and I made it home by 5am. Recounting memories from our time as roommates in Barcelona, comparing stories and perspectives Italian and American, and finding solidarity in our joint appreciation of Doesoevsky, I remember that true friendship can endure. After three years, we did not skip a beat.

We see Monets in the Dublin City Gallery, the Book of Kells at Trinity College, the National Gallery, and then meander the streets about which Joyce writes. St Stephens Green and Nassau Street, Merrion and O’Connell, Grafton and Mulligan’s…

Saturday concluded with a Dutch party that I attended with twenty friends from six continents. Conversations sparked in French, Italian, and Spanish, and topics varied from Biarritz surfing with a South African to discussion of Japanese alphabets with a Brazilian girl who has studied Arabic and Mandarin, pursuing the same focus in her life as I’d like to in mine, namely international diplomacy and economic development.

Aboard my flight from London, the sun began to rise over the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan. Jagged snow-capped peaks revealed a country beyond CNN. Deep rifts held dangerous mystery, but somehow it looked innocent, untouched, and beautiful. In a part of the world most troubled, as we flew with Kabul and Islamabad out of my leftside, 747-window, I envisioned an alternative. Looking at my moving flight map, turbulence introduced a palpable fear dictated by the ubiquitous regional perceptions, but as I turned my eyes to the cold glass of my window, I was saddened by an unfortunate corruption of a beautiful land.

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