Posts

‘No-Crash’ Courses in Driving in Italy, England and Japan

Our tiny Fiat The experiences I recounted in last week’s post about driving in Brazil were hardly the only adventures I’ve had behind the wheel. My first encounter with “crazy foreign drivers” took place in Europe in 1965, on the same trip when my friend Arlee and I drove our car — a Fiat so tiny […]

Earning a Ph.D.

Here I am with my Corcel, a Brazilian-made Ford, relaxing in Brasilia in 1972 or thereabouts. I got my bachelor’s degree in Connecticut and my master’s in Massachusetts, but I had to cross the equator and fly all the way to Brazil for my Ph.D. I hasten to add that this doctorate was not in […]

Нет, Моя! No, It’s Mine!

Under Lenin’s gaze, Naomi, age 4, in blue dress at left foreground, participating in her Leningrad preschool’s celebration of the Bolshevik Revolution’s 60th anniversary, November 1977. One year ago, calling it a “somber centenary,” I wrote about the 100th anniversary of Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution (October Revolution). Now, on the revolution’s 101st anniversary (actually last Wednesday), a […]

Wanna Learn Japanese in 10 Hours?

Gaijin (Japanese for “foreigner”) Back in 1984, I mentioned to a friend, Don Jones, a U.S. Information Agency colleague, that I’d just been assigned to the staff of the U.S. Pavilion at Tsukuba Expo ’85.1 Don was, I’d guess, about two decades older than me. I’d first met him a few years earlier when we were […]

One of the World’s Great Museums Is Also the Czar’s Attic

Winter Palace, home of much of the Hermitage’s collection Two recent events — one mundane, the other calamitous — came together in my mind and prompted me to write this short piece about one of the world’s greatest museums, the Hermitage, in St. Petersburg, Russia. The mundane event is my recently begun exploration of the […]

How Do I Know a Twin-Engine Jet Can Fly on Just One Engine?

Because I was at 30,000 feet when one of our engines quit, and I’m still here to tell you about it. That’s how. It happened in 1974. I was living in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, at the time, and my wife and I were flying to São Paulo. We were already familiar with Brasilia – where […]

¡Welcome to Bolivia!

Andean “Andrews Sisters” About a month ago, I regaled readers with stories about a few of my travel adventures in India. Fast forward a few years and spin the globe halfway around its axis and you’re in the Andean highlands of Peru and Bolivia with me in 1975 – and another great travel adventure. With […]

Beethoven Would Not Have Survived This Recital, But …

the pianist did, and so did I – barely! This was the piano recital to top them all! No, it wasn’t exactly Vladimir Horowitz or Arthur Rubenstein at Carnegie Hall. In fact, it took place long enough ago (1974 or thereabouts) that the stalwart pianist’s name has, regrettably, faded from memory.1 But I retain a […]

A Great Cup of Coffee

If faithful readers of this blog (yes, it appears there actually are a few of you) are tiring of tales from the time I spent in Leningrad, here’s a change of pace – a story from Brazil. And what could be more authentically Brazilian than a story about that fascinating country’s best-known export – other than samba […]

Pianos and Diaper Buckets: The Perils of Intercontinental Moves

When I married my “starter wife” (defined in “The Fly,” below) I was not yet 30 and in more ways than one was just getting acquainted with the various responsibilities of life as an adult. I was living in Washington, D.C., at the time, but was preparing to leave on my first Foreign Service assignment […]