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October 17, 2004


Jan Morris once wrote that there are only three true 'World' cities: New York, London and Paris. That is easy to remember as one passes through here. Last night in a bar off the Champs Elysees, I listened to a French acoustic duo mangle a generation's worth of American folk-rock. The music didn't much matter, though. The crowd was a pleasant mix of French, Americans, Germans and a bunch of Spanish-speakers who, from the snatches of conversation I overheard, appeared to be from Argentina. It was a good crowd for a Saturday night.

October 14, 2004

Los Angeles

If you are an American living overseas – particularly in the Middle East – coming back to the United States for a visit inevitably entails a single question, one you will encounter from seemingly every person you meet: Is it safe over there?

Do you feel secure?

Can you go out?

Aren’t you worried?

October 10, 2004

35,000 feet above the North Atlantic

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

A former western ambassador to the UAE, now retired and working here as a private citizen, told me a revealing story over lunch this week. A friend of his was coming through customs at Dubai and had purchased two bottles of wine in the arrivals duty free shop. As he approached customs a policeman stopped him.

"You have two bottles of wine?" the policeman asked. The traveler admitted he did, silently cursing himself for having picked up a second bottle with a policeman standing right in front of him.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

October 4, 2004

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Doha, Qatar

Coming through customs at Doha International Airport you pass a billboard for this micro-state's most famous export: the Al-Jazeera satellite news channel. Its headline:

.view of point different A

Amman, Jordan

Ra'ed Qaqish is the sort of person the United States is supposed to be reaching out to. He wants to be friends with the United States, but just now he is feeling slighted.
Qaqish is a freshman member of Jordan's parliament. A Christian in his early 40s who represents the town of Salt, about 20 miles west of Amman. He arrived late for our lunch explaining by way of apology that he had been with the mayor of Salt discussing his idea to establish a sister city agreement with Burlington, Vermont, which he visited last year.



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