This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Conversations with Tomorrow’s Leaders
by Steffi Schütze
N E W YO R K
We’re Global Citizens Copyright © 2003 Stefﬁ Schütze All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without prior written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information address Paraview, P.O. Box 416, Old Chelsea Station, New York, NY 10113-0416, or visit our website at www.paraview.com. Cover design by smythtype ISBN: 1-931044-41-4 Library of Congress Catalog Number: 2002111405
INTRODUCTION / 4 CHAPTER 1 Rujana—Tajikistan: Each Journey Is Home / 7 CHAPTER 2 Ryan—United States of America: Liberty and Happiness Are Rights / 23 CHAPTER 3 Mapule—South Africa: Black Is Beautiful / 36 CHAPTER 4 Edin—Bosnia: I’m an Urban Product / 51 CHAPTER 5 Ying—Taiwan: Life Can Be So Sweet / 71 CHAPTER 6 Alon—Israel: Everybody Likes Soldiers / 88 CHAPTER 7 Halima—Senegal: We Are Cutting the Bodies in Half / 104 CHAPTER 8 Scott—Australia: Nobody Should Live in Hell / 116 CHAPTER 9 Bahar —Turkey: I’d Enter a Glamorous World / 127 CHAPTER 10 Arpad—Romania: My Family Is My God / 144 CHAPTER 11 Xu Ke—China: I Believe in Friendship / 156 CHAPTER 12 Juliana—Argentina: The Sky Is Not the Limit / 171 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS / 182
but I’ve already done hundreds of interviews. and so on. how could I preserve it and share it? That’s how it started. 2002. Germany: Stefﬁ. I read the transcript. 20:02 P. It’s 4 . It’s not my natural color! I think about each person a lot. I would lure them into my room. I wanted them to be from all the inhabited continents.M. International House. I take a deep look into their eyes and at their hands. February 20. I see you here in your little room going crazy over this book. There are almost 700 people from 100 countries living here at IHouse.A. How did you do that? First. Usually. Some people I would talk to 20 times before they ﬁnally appeared.S. and it tells me a lot. by Sharon Powell. and then I read it again. Why do you do this to yourself? Don’t throw salt on my wounds! I think it has something to do with my passion for stories. And I wanted to have fun.Introduction An interview conducted in Room 5F. I wanted people who could express themselves very well verbally in English.. U. and then I read . That’s why I have red eyes. So. The interviews last on average four hours per person. I just looked around the house and certain people stood out to me. this translates into a 120 pages transcript. with author Stefﬁ Schütze. I put them on the hot seat. oh no. You could be at Ballroom dancing or the panel discussion on the African Diaspora. I search to ﬁnd the major themes that come through their stories. That’s part of my job as a journalist. but the stories in the book have only 20 pages. New York on Wednesday. I have a good feeling for people. and I took my microphone and sounded them out. . Since I’ve met all those amazing people in International House that would tell me the weirdest and the most unbelievable things. So. . I thought. How did you decide whom you wanted to interview for the book? It wasn’t easy.
I even changed some of their names. when you open a book and see faces. but when I was working all those long hours. so there’s no need for action. Sometimes this takes forever. I do think that hands are a very expressive part of the body.like a painter that creates a portrait and looks for expressions on a face. Whether you want to or not. “Am I really here?” It was like a dream come true. you might judge the persons before reading their stories. Right? Plus. I fell in love with every single person. and that narrowed my mind. It’s true! I thought there might be a danger. I thought. authentic story. some people wanted anonymity. . I give the story a name. you are from East Germany . asked and listened. on the stories. but real life here is not exactly dreamlike. both day and night. most of all. Stefﬁ. coherent and. . 5 . That was it! Being so close to them. My whole body was just occupied by thoughts and questions. Yeah and therefore I’m an alien! Before the wall came down. Fortunately most of them are taken. I come up with the ﬁrst and last sentence. And the rest is cutting and ﬁddling until I have a ﬂowing. And most of all. . . Why did you include pictures of their hands? I did it [on the cover of this edition] because their faces were too beautiful. did you ever feel yourself falling in love with any of these people? No! Not during the interviews. Don’t stare at my hands! I haven’t done my nails. How did you get these people to tell you about their most private thoughts and moments? I served them tea and cookies. and of course I respect that. ordinary East Germans were not allowed to travel to capitalist countries. I’ve seen good and bad things. . When I came to New York. Then.
I’ll be the next Nobel Prize winner. I was born under a lucky star. sweetheart. What do you think of it? Well. There is much talk relating to success in this book. Thank you. And in IHouse I see the human face of Globalization. That’s it! And now it’s time for a drink! Cheers! 6 . Just kidding! I want my book to be read all over the world. I want them to laugh and cry. That’s all I want.Now I know about different political systems. It will be. It’s like traveling through centuries. I want readers to be amused and astonished.
There I was. I haven’t lived at one place for more than four years. because my country Tajikistan. my father Muslim. I didn’t want to appear to be dumb. There. I spoke three languages. I got into the program. But I was lucky. My mother is orthodox. but not English. My parents didn’t feel comfortable sending me to Moscow. which was designed by the U. Since I was born. Federal Government. You can’t put me in a box. had just separated from its big brother. My grandparents all have different nationalities. a former Soviet republic. my brother a Buddhist and I’m a Baptist. I wanted to go to Moscow and study International Affairs. I was afraid of speaking English. I’m a real mixture. There was an opportunity to come to the United States with a student exchange program. But in America I couldn’t express myself. since it was chaotic there in the beginning of the ’90s. I was 16. I lived in war in Afghanistan and in peace in Tajikistan. because the whole communist system was turning up side down.S. everything was really changing with the break up of the Soviet Union. where I had had all the success and always was at the top in school. The ﬁrst time when I came to the States. the little perfect girl coming from Tajikistan. Russian and American. went to a language camp for 40 days and ended up in a high school in Southern California.CHAPTER 1 Rujana—Tajikistan: Each Journey Is Home I’m a global nomad. but suddenly I was a foreigner in Russia. to introduce Soviet youth to democracy and free market and so on. 7 . I had just finished high school in my home country. Its all me. I’m Persian.
With the people from the program I traveled to Washington and to New York. “What happened to you?” You know. “Wow! Could you please repeat everything?” From that moment on. It was a great experience to live in the States. “Wow. after a year. When I ﬁnished. we had an American literature class. Too soon. I had gained 40 pounds. I saw Capitol Hill and the Empire State Building. and it became really fun. I had cut and straightened my hair. All of a sudden I raised my hand to say something in English—this was the ﬁrst time I was going to say something in public—and the class went dead silent. I understood what he just said. I had left as a teenager and I came back as a young woman.“ That gave me incredible conﬁdence. I was puffed up. and you can imagine what this was doing to my selfconﬁdence. “Didn’t you have a mirror?” Of course I shuddered. I looked like a big donut. Everybody was like. For three months I was mute. In my culture it is very common to say something like.So. somebody from the back raised her hand and said. It was amazing. that very day. the weather guy was saying something. I was 17. I started speaking English. turned on the TV and watched the news. and coincidently the subject that they were discussing was a short story on Russian immigrants. the ﬁrst thing that my brother said to me at the airport was. When I went to my high school. It was a phenomenal opportunity to be exposed to a different culture. it was like. But then one day I woke up. my program ﬁnished and I went back to Tajikistan. 8 . in the beginning of high school I wouldn’t say a word. Everybody was intensely waiting to listen to what it is that I ﬁnally would say. “Wow! You look fat!” And that happened to me when I came back. and for the ﬁrst time in the few months that I had been there.
“Yes. American members of this organization came for a visit. and obviously a young woman. and we saw some really incredible things. Since I could speak English very well. The rules had changed. “I really would like to come back to the US and do my education there.Not only had I changed dramatically. and they wanted to take over the whole society. “Women have brains like cows. I traveled with this group extensively through Northern Tajikistan. My country had done it as well. like extreme poverty. It was a private liberal arts college with very good teachers. I have great potential and want to develop it to the highest. because I got to work in rural Alabama with poverty 9 .” He was from Alabama.” Three months after the American group had left. And there were several incidences where the delegation could see. And four months after I got back. It was just amazing. one of the members called me and asked.” Besides studying I was working for an international peace organization. There was a strong Islamic movement. It was fantastic. I got out of that college in three years instead of four. which was very maledominated. and you can’t prove any different. I went to the university and studied International Economics. and my big smile was not appreciated either. I was the only woman in the hosting group. “Would you still like to come to America?” And I said. I tried to save money from my scholarships and studied very hard. I couldn’t walk on the streets with my western style clothes anymore. They were trying to see the economic effects of the transition on my country. and I had quite a bit of trouble there. I got admission into that college. In the summer breaks I would work. and there was a great school in Alabama that I could get into. One professor actually said. Since it was very expensive. especially in the rural areas. how Tadjic men would treat me in a very dominant and disrespectful way. And just in passing I said.
I loved my home and I loved my job. it was time for me to move on and out. and I didn’t know anybody here. very little education. I didn’t want to start grad school right away. educated Americans that were obviously able to host me. It was an amazing experience for me to see poverty in this country. because my father was involved in politics. I have sensed the inner leader in me. The United Nations provides an excellent opportunity to work globally. Here I was in the middle of Alabama. And since early childhood I have been very political. because I needed to crystallize what I really wanted to study. in an organization that is as 10 . and I did everything like building houses. white citizens of the US. because up to this point I had only seen the wealthy. I made many friends within a short time. I came for an interview and got the job very easily. So. You meet all these intelligent. I was 20 years old when I graduated from college.stricken rural Appalachian. But I knew that I wanted to do my masters at Columbia University in New York. So it was just natural that I ended up in the UN. This place is just amazing. I moved in to International House with two suitcases. I was looking around and I got a fantastic opportunity to work for a non-governmental organization here in New York City at the United Nations. So the summers were really devoted to that. It has been hard to let that inner leader develop in any particular nation that I have lived in. competitive and extremely expensive school. and were able to enjoy good things. a highly prestigious. drug abuse. I felt that as much as a positive experience the southern part of the US had been for me. nice people from all over the world. to teach me. and an incredible lack of opportunity and job employment. running a cannery or doing counseling on domestic violence. confronted with teenage pregnancy. and yet understand complexities of local institutions and national states. But this changed very fast.
if we are studying HIV/AIDS. I want the people that come to our seminars to get a sense of urgency. I have seen enough of it. I am always able to see those two sides: the position of the privileged and the position of the oppressed. I think it is important to always maintain the connection between grassroots and the Ivory Tower. oftentimes. to organize campaigns. then obviously something needs 11 . I deﬁnitely don’t want to become a bureaucrat. and to become active. So I encourage them to write letters. the powerless. because they had so much potential. those who rarely get their voices heard publicly. we will have experts on this topic. They are very frustrated and disappointed. zeal and enthusiasm. I work with groups of Americans from all over the country that come in for seminars on topics like peace making. if you allow your voice to count. but somehow the system just got the better of them. So. like doctors. and people who are working here in New York on the grassroots of the issue. I have met very hardened and violent peacemakers. and I would recognize the signs of that in myself. and to exercise their rights as citizens in this democracy. I don’t want to become disillusioned. I feel if you stay in the UN community for a very long time without the real connection to ordinary people. as well as people living with HIV. protecting environment or global health. One of them is stagnation. In a democracy you can really change something. So my work basically is about representing the alternative side.global as it gets in current history. I am sort of a bridge. between the elite and the ordinary people. I don’t want to feel that my work is not making a difference. as I call them. The moment you feel stagnant. then there is a huge risk that you might lose your purpose and your goal. the side of. We explore that from all sides. I do popular education. My mother is from the working class and my father is part of the nobility.
I stayed in a hotel—completely alone. 12 .” But the mistake was done. I went to the black market and met this man. but there were no tickets being sold legally. There I had to re-apply for a visa. I had to ﬂy to Uzbekistan. when I started to work at the UN. my student visa needed to be changed into a work visa. It was very scary and surreal. I had to give him my passport and many dollars. because there is no U. Two years ago. I left International House in New York with one black suitcase. And change is one of the scariest things. So I got a letter from Immigrations Naturalization Services saying that I have to immediately leave the United States. and I saw that no matter how well things are together. Not even congressmen could help me. embassy in my country. There has been enough of that in my life. It was in December and very cold. I am getting paid. I have an important job. because I was insistent that my life would not be disrupted. and that I would come back. I got my ticket. I took the ﬂight and arrived in Uzbekistan. then your life is really altered. I was shocked and thought: “They can’t just deport me. I had to buy a ticket. which is in the middle of Asia. But there is no plane between Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. which did not exist anymore. because I was here illegally. Then everything became even more confusing. He disappeared for 15 minutes and came back. I’m totally not illegal.S. So I had to go to Tajikistan and get a new passport. because my passport still was from the Soviet Union. In Kazakhstan.to change. During that process my lawyer forgot to provide an important document. if something within the system goes wrong. although they tried. I had to trust him. I took the plane to Kazakhstan. First. And that was going to be really difﬁcult. I left everything else here. I had to go back to Tajikistan. when at the embassy I was told that I had to get a new passport before applying for a visa.
Nobody would welcome me. It took me four weeks to get my new passport. There were six of them. drive to the border and then walk through the border. So I couldn’t ﬂy. Green money always works in those places of the world. But right after that.” I would give them ten dollars each. I stopped a car and asked for a lift. I spoke in their native languages and was friendly—but not too friendly since I was alone. a 21 year old woman. nobody wanted to deal with my problem of getting a passport. There I was with my long black coat in white snow in the middle of mountains in Central Asia. I had to stay focused. But there was a presidential election going on with tightened security especially at the airport. Since it was during the holidays. Soviet bureaucracy still works like in old times. “I really appreciate your problems and that you are making a special case. After that. The only chance to get there was to hire a taxi. I had to deal with all the little logistics alone. and there were no ﬂights. After that procedure. So I did. three on both sides of the border. and luckily I got to my hometown. walking the border to her country and bribing the soldiers to just let her go through. I took a commercial bus with lots of people. there was the next obstacle. potatoes and different smells. I passed one after another. “How the hell could I get to Tajikistan?” The border was closed because of all the war stuff that was going on. because my family escaped the civil war at home and now lives in Western Europe. I would say things like. and it was really amazing. And here is something to show you my gratitude. It took me 48 hours to 13 . I was asked by the Asian Internal Services for three hours like: “Who are you? Why are you coming in? Why is your passport old?” I convinced them to let me go.At the airport. I took another risk. I made it all the way back to Uzbekistan.
and I came up with another idea. like. A YES would have enabled me to go back to the US. and I learned a lot. but a NO would have forced me to stay outside of the US for three years. and hold on to it. my parents encouraged me to make little choices. and I had to wait for another week to ask for a visa. He would always explain to me why I shouldn’t do things. He let me see the pros and cons of every single decision that I made. I always knew why I shouldn’t do it. and having the right to articulate it. So I wasn’t just told to not do these things. Sometimes they would say: “We can’t explain. and my parents would entertain those questions. I was talking to him through a bulletproof window. I had done everything. It was a completely subjective decision. But he was sick. No matter how uncontrollable certain things were. in Afghanistan I was not allowed to kick stones or anything on the streets. like: What kind of ﬂowers should I have outside of my window? I wanted to have some colorful plants. I went back to the American embassy and wanted to speak to the consulate ofﬁcial. before having the right to apply for a visa again.reach my little hotel in Kazakhstan again. So we thought it over. I got my visa and I ﬂew back to New York. I guess it was connected to the possibility of change that has been a part of my family’s life. Since I was little. but you are right in asking. because it could explode. There were mines everywhere. Then.” They gave me an understanding of me having my own opinion. but then my father explained to me that those would encourage snakes to come into my room. so this was going to be the ﬁnal decision. I was encouraged to make my own decisions. 14 . I would always ask a lot. Finally. I went to the ofﬁcial and had a 45-minute interview to convince him that I was telling the truth.
And the beauty of it is that you can make up your own verse as you go along. and with some letters obviously you can never ﬁnd something. and he is from a very traditional family. If he saw that I liked to do public speaking. except that he is too short for me? I already turned down eight potentially good husbands. only half an hour away from my parents. and a person says two verses of a poem. But he absolutely did not raise me any different from my brother. then he would get me to the right papers to get that published. And I was a little girl. And you just go around and around. This man lives in Western Europe now. good guy from a good family. and yet somebody who is very 15 . My dad and I were excellent in this game. which is very common in Persian culture: You sit around on a carpet.My father especially had engrained in me the feeling of being worth as much as any other human being. and he is still single. everybody talks about him and us. He is a great. although I’ve been promised to my dad’s best friend’s son since I was born. My only remedy is. very intergenerational. which is quite unique. He was very complementary and very encouraging of the gifts that I had. If he saw that I would write poetry. I have my favorite and my least favorite in the proposals series. then he would provide opportunities for that. We would play games around poetry. My parents never really forced me to get married. that the guy is shorter than me. and with the same clear articulation of our value. and he would encourage me to win. So what could I say. who is four years older. I’m looking for someone who is just as much full of contradictions as me. We were both raised with the same emphasis on education. the next person has to start with. and whatever letter that ends on. because he is Muslim. When I visit my family.
And I deﬁnitely believe in the power of love. So that would be the ideal man—if he has broad shoulders and great embracing arms that would make me feel really safe and very comfortable. talk and talk. and I am not naive about that at all. I think that is way too risky. And to most Americans it is like: What is that? I need somebody who can give a very tight embrace. Arms and shoulders fascinate me. The ﬁrst two loves that I had in my life. and who could tolerate my amazing ability to talk. My love should be tall. She got right out of St.grounded and understands his own identity. I definitely want to have a partner in life. My parents are a great example of that. My mom comes from a working class family. I am just not sure how and when. Her mother came to Tajikistan in 1943 when World War II was going on. I don’t really know about the timing yet. Petersburg before the Germans blockaded the city and thousands of Russians died of hunger. Lately I have been attracted to blondes. 16 . Her parents worked in textile fabrics. had very light eyes and dark hair. Meanwhile my taste has slightly changed. But she had just heard that her husband had died in ﬁghting. I see my life developing and I don’t really see how children would ﬁt in—especially in my 20s. the focus really is on the backs. I want to have children. I have been noticing that when they show erotic scenes in Russian movies. I think that’s the Russian in me. a strong belief. I don’t know what the deal with that is. But I am not convinced that I want to be on medications and try to beat my internal clock and have a baby at 40. I’d like to be with someone who enjoys having fun. He doesn’t have to be from any particular culture connected to mine. But height is still a big issue. and a sense of purpose in life. I am a very touchy person. He has to be somebody with a strong conviction. So.
He asked his guy friends who she was. But he came just too often and soon. my mom had to go into debt. since they are from very different backgrounds. she never dances with anybody.She came to Tajikistan because there were jobs there and food. My dad saw her for the ﬁrst time at a dance party. It’s a bizarre story. “We’ll see. So they ﬁrst became friends. She is really shy. In order to help him. She had to feed her two kids. “Oh. they agreed that my mom would save my dad’s money and give him only a certain amount of money.” It was the ﬁrst time that she had said YES to a dance. So. each time he would come to her. But my mom had apparently fallen in love with him much earlier. So. She is 17 . My mom had never been in love before and never dated anybody. He would spend it all at once. “No”. “Yes. it is very interesting how my parents got together. her passion and the commitment that my mom showed in a special way. Petersburg. So. It was the ﬁrst time in her life she had to borrow money.” And my father said. My dad could not budget his money. there was no money left. They both did labor work for a living. For some reason she liked him. because my dad was pre-arranged to marry someone at home. They met at the University in St. My mom saved well and budgeted money well. because she liked him so much that she couldn’t tell him.” They made a bet on whether she would reject my father or not. and at the last ten days of the month he had nothing left. She asked his friends for money. My dad’s family is like royalty and nobility in Tajikistan. She got married again to a Russian. my dad went up to my mom and he asked her to dance with him. and they said. and she said. They have lived there for a long time. don’t even worry. My dad was really popular with girls. My mom was a freshman and he was a senior in the traditional set up of Russia’s educational system. I think this is what really got him.
not very verbal. But during the big school break. He applied and got appointed. So each year we went back home. they did marry. and he noticed that she was not really into that. My mom didn’t trust him. My favorite part of the house was a living room that was connected to a dining room. And every time I felt sad. They were shocked. which divides my 2500 years old hometown. we would go to our home in Tajikistan. So it took much longer for them to understand how much they were in love. and the dining room had all windows. because we always had many people for lunch. I was seven and entered school there. we all went to Afghanistan. The light was very bright there. which was for three months in winter. But they didn’t get married for four years. My dad stayed on to do his doctorate in the ﬁeld of geology. I always called it my island. It was a center where our family came together. My father really wanted to go abroad. because he had always felt so independent and happy without one person. So in `82. because he had had so many other affairs and so on. The house it is right on that beautiful river. but my dad is very verbal. 18 . Out of my window I could see an island in the river. They started dating. which was really nice. since everybody loved me. Only after my mom finished up her studies in economics and geology. he would come with poetry and talk. We had a long table with many chairs. and a balcony where my mom would grow vegetables. and he was also teaching. So I grew up in a student house in Moscow. saying that he was married. So. We had a beautiful garden with a lot of grapes. He sent a postcard to his family. and it took several years for them to feel comfortable with my mom. If any man has a fear of commitment it was he. I had images that I would go on this island and be by myself.
Kids on the street would yell at my brother. Most of the education was in two languages. The center of Kabul had been full of Russians. and he didn’t speak the native language as well as me. I went to a school. Because he got there as an older kid. which was called PEACE. He is much lighter than me. There was quite a mix of people. He designed the executive side of the government that was complementary to what the Soviets wanted there.We had a lot of Persian rugs of very good quality. It was designed for government children that were mostly Russians. We are trying to bring better life. I remember this weird combination of east and west: the Persian rugs and the red sofa. so the sofa was burgundy colored. because it was pretty protected. and poor and orphaned Afghani children.” I would give the ofﬁcial line that I had heard from my dad. the capital. there were hundreds of thousands of military personnel. Russian and the local Persian language. And the thing that really stood out was a huge bookshelf with all Russian books in it. or I should say Soviets—at that time it was Soviet Union—had built what they called micro districts. but I would not analyze it much more than that. “Russian go away!” I would defend him saying: “We are trying to develop this country. Afghani kids would never yell at me. We lived there for a while. He has a good insight into the way Afghanistan was exploited in terms of natural resources. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. There were just many houses for people that were working for the government. In Afghanistan we lived in Kabul. And my mom liked dark red. There is so much irony in that. his accent stayed much longer. and also civilian personnel that went over there. He also worked in the ministry of heavy industry and agriculture. Russians. I never felt like a foreigner there. but my brother did. because I was like 19 . My dad was working as part of the cabinet that the Russians/Soviets established there.
Our favorite game was jump rope. because that means that the bombs are going over you. I was scared. I was trained to do so. I basically knew that people sometimes pray to God when things like this attack are happening. It was a very targeted attack of one of the micro districts. because both of my parents worked and my brother was still at school. and from the top they were launching their missiles. It is amazing when the missiles are ﬂying over you. The Mujaheddin. and that was when the ﬁrst missile hit. “God. One afternoon I was playing this jump rope game with two neighboring kids. It was only the beginning of a 42-minute long attack of primarily our neighborhood. “Forget it! I am going to get my own jump rope. I remember sitting there for the duration of that time and saying. They were sisters and of course they held together.them. had taken control of a mountain around Kabul. So. And I was sitting there and just listening to the sound. and the missiles were falling very close. Most of my friends were Afghani and we would play together.” My dad told me that as long as you here the uuuuuuuuhhhhh part it’s ok. and we got into an argument. Please don’t make me die!” And I didn’t die. I wondered when the next one would hit. I don’t want to die. All sorts of noises were happening. “I want to be with my parents. about whose turn it was next.” So I went inside to ﬁnd my rope. I said. I was nine years old and completely alone. so I had heard the name of God. a militant Islamic group. and I sat between the wall and the commode and waited. and I said to them. I immediately ran into the bathroom. They were falling right at the buildings. Afghans are a very deeply spiritual people. its like: “Uuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhh-bum.” Nobody was there. 20 .
They were dead. just and very happy. Since I have faced death many times. and she just had an incredibly expressive look. It’s a place where people are really connected. depending on 21 . I’ve lived much more intensively. And her mom was standing on top of them. to not have any fears anymore and insecurities. There is a competition that is outside you. She was looking down. Secretary general. The challenges so far have been. I don’t think that I have faced the biggest challenge of my career yet. I’m still working for the UN. I started with my studies in International Affairs at Columbia University. I’m really focused. It’s peace there. She was just opposing the fact that I was alive and they were dead. Right after ﬁnishing graduate school. and then she looked at me. But I knew that she knew that I was the last person that had seen her children alive. Besides. really quiet.Then things got really quiet when the missiles stopped. I like to shoot big. I ran outside and I saw both of my friends lying on the ground. to run the UN. But more realistically I want to have a career that gives me the feeling that I am making a difference. so I would love to be the U. I felt very bad every time I came across their mom. It’s the race to arrive at your center.N. I try to enjoy every day of my life. and I am growing in every way. not becoming part of the race for some gold that is not mine. Recently. because this is what creates war. The only competition is inside you. Growing both as a person and also growing in my relationships with people. I want to leave the United States to go to Europe or Central Asia. People are equal. I didn’t know how to react. I think there is a paradise. and then she looked down and again at me. and we never really talked. and I don’t believe in that. I missed them a lot.
where I get a job. But I want to work in the ﬁeld of international development. I will travel a lot. I don’t have particular loyalty to any place. My home is usually where I lay my head. A journey is home. That is an anonymous saying from many thousands years ago. And I really believe that. I am a very optimistic person. I’m powerful. I’m driven by the vision that change is possible.
CHAPTER 2 Ryan—United States of America: Liberty and Happiness Are Rights
I am American. I have never been out of the United States, and I don’t speak any other languages than English. I guess no one else in International House can say that, and I doubt anyone else ever will be able to. I have never dated anyone ever. I have never kissed or held hands. I’ve done nothing like that. But about a year ago, I noticed HER for the ﬁrst time. This really threw me. I knew I was interested, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do about it. She was very friendly, and we would occasionally go out. But I did not know if those outings were dates. I was confused. This went on for a while. It took me ﬁve months to ﬁgure things out. I decided that I was going to say to her something like, “Would you be interested in being something more than friends?” So I invited her to go out in a restaurant and I wanted to ask her there. But on that very day she called, and she told me that she could not come. She had gotten bad news and needed to be by herself. I thought that was terrible, and I wanted to do something to cheer her up. So I grabbed some supplies, like her favorite candies out of the Bazaar downstairs, and put them in a little basket. Then I made some ﬂowers out of tissue papers and wrote a little note, and I put everything on her doorstep, just to cheer her up and for no other reason really. A couple days later, she called me up and asked, “Could we go now?” And I said, “That’s ﬁne. Let’s go.” I took her out and she told me this story. She had had this major academic crisis, and the same time her parents were putting pressure on her for various reasons. So she
called her boyfriend . . . and I didn’t know she had one! I didn’t like to hear that at all. She told me that she called him and asked him to support her, but he took no time to do so. She wasn’t worth his time. She told me all this, and I tried to be as friendly and supportive as I could be. I knew that I could not possibly bring my question up at that moment. This would have been like throwing another grenade on the pile, and I didn’t want to do that to her. I decided to wait and just give her all the support she needed. She was very grateful. A month later, after Christmas, we had just come back from our families to I-House. That’s when she told me that she was getting ready for this major examination and that she would be busy all the time. So I did nothing and was being supportive. In February I resumed trying to arrange something. By this time I was going nuts every time I’d think about her. But our schedules didn’t link up. It was March before she ﬁnally was able to go to dinner with me. I was going to take her to a French restaurant and prepare everything perfectly. I bought new clothes. The night before, I sat in my bed and stared off into space thinking about it. I got no sleep, and I had to work the next day. By the time she came by my room, I looked like the walking dead. She noticed that something was strange and asked, “What is wrong with you?” I said, “I tell you later.” I wanted my approach to be perfect and at the right moment. I had gone through the whole thing over and over again—I had written speeches in my head. I didn’t want to look like an idiot. So we got to the French place; I thought it was going to be a nice place, quiet and private. But it was loud, and there were people sitting right next to our table, bumping our elbows. I could not say anything there, and she was looking at me and asked again, “What’s wrong?” I was going nuts. I suggested going to an Italian place
What came out of my mouth was this tangled mess. She didn’t say NO. it is more satisfying than anything else I have ever known. but I would lose interest and stop. I couldn’t take it anymore. All my life I have been overweight. She has been through a lot but she keeps on going. It was the hardest thing ever what I was going to do. It is a T-shirt 25 . I went on this personal growth spurt because of it. But I knew I had to tell her. I had difficulty breathing. We had to wear these stupid uniforms. I have gotten into the habit of telling this story to my friends in order to hear what they think. and I ﬁnd myself staring at her. I tried various things. She is a very emotionally healthy person and for me. My weight caused problems in my high school gym class. After I asked. She has eyes that sparkle a bit. and my tongue was tied in knots. and to question things. but when I give to her.where we would have dessert. and I forgot about everything I had planned. I waited a second and wondered what she was going to say. that was the biggest turn-on in the world. and I didn’t. I looked at everything that was bad with my diet. I realized one day that I have never considered myself healthy because of this. She is so focused on improving her own personal growth that it inspires me to look at my own life. every single time I can find something to ﬁxate me. When I look at her. And most of my friends told me to walk away from her. and I did it! Somehow I managed to ask her if we might be more than just friends. She is delightful and has this laugh that washes over me and echoes through me. By the time we got there and sat down. But she didn’t say YES either. But I couldn’t. And that was the main reason why I lost all the weight. and I didn’t like it. I always enjoy the act of giving. She inspired me to take a look at things that I have always taken for granted. For example.
and I didn’t want to have anything to do with them. but I wanted to surprise them. It’s not quite to where I want to be. I hated gym class in high school. I was drinking soda every day. and I threw out the things I did not need. So I started slowly but constantly. It had little buttons and lights and I liked that. and that is just the most miserable feeling in the world when it happens. I cut down on the sugar a lot. and I made up my mind. There were those girls that thought it was funny that I had bigger breasts than they did. My mom didn’t say. and my mom looked at me like I had grown another head. I didn’t tell any member of my family that I was doing this. My brother gave me a raised eyebrow look. I have a little asthma. because this was the ﬁrst impression I got of women. I would get there and warm up and walk on the treadmill. They struck me as juvenile and immature. Then I met HER. I went home where my mother. It was also why I was not interested in dating anyone in high school. I haven’t had soda in four months.” She just stared at me like she thought I had a disease and was wasting away. I said I was going to go to the ﬁtness center six days a week. I didn’t remove it completely because it would have been too tough for me to handle. it only kicks in when I overheat myself. I threw it out. I set goals. I got off the train. It took her 26 . I wanted to see the expressions on their faces. but I wanted to do it. Recently. I lost 37 pounds. And the books I read said that it was a bit much. and they would laugh hysterically.and it makes everything stand out. It took me half a year. I started exercising. So far. I am proud of where I am. I just showed up. I kept a journal and recorded everything. but I am not in a rush to get there. brother and sister-in-law were. “Hello. Before. I took a good look at my diet. which I had problems with because I was never in shape. I didn’t know what they were going to do.
I ran out and went in the door. So we drove around the block a few times and ﬁnally came to I-House. “Hi! Are you a new resident?” and I said. He took all this time. Then. When I saw my room. And who was the ﬁrst person I saw? Don Cuneo. because I was too early. The day I arrived here. while I dealt with the admissions process. because it was hot and I wanted to meet some people. During the ﬁrst days in I-House I decided to go to an Ice Cream Social. and soon I started to like my little new home. and I thought this was just amazing. He said. “Yes. “How can I ﬁt all my stuff in here?” All my wall space was covered by boxes. But we couldn’t turn left because it was a one-way street. he gave me a tour of I-House. we could not ﬁnd a place to park. I am. it was rainy and I couldn’t see much of New York’s famous skyline. The next person that showed up was a woman. I started taping greeting cards and pictures of my nephews and my dog on the wall. it also has given me a broader perspective of the world. Is there someplace my mom could park?” So he came outside. International House has not only driven me to fall in love and losing weight. My mom told me to get out and ask someone where we were supposed to park. We found the road that should bring us to International House. the president of I-House. Immediately I felt at home.three days to get used to her slimmer son. I moved everything around about 15 billion times the ﬁrst three weeks. and no one was there. I was a little dismayed like. After all that was taken care of. ﬁguring out how to arrange things. International House is the best place I have ever lived. and we had a 27 . got in our car and showed my mom where to park. I walked down to Main Lounge. My mom and I crossed the bridge and encountered the intricacies of Manhattan traffic. which went to the ceiling. looked around. because I had no place to put them.
At the Social. “Wow. and then I was named co-director for my ﬁrst play.long. that’s a rat. And I really had fun with it. which made me wonder a bit about her. I have met business people. I wish I could meet more. I came to IHouse and I realized this was my opportunity to change that. I dodged death that day. That’s too bad. but suddenly I was reading a script. Later. I was sitting at the corner park patio with stairs leading down to the street. because people came from the strangest countries. In I-House. she was with a different guy. musicians. designers. I live on the 6th ﬂoor in South-House. I don’t think I made a favorable impression with that leap. Neat. I was like. Every time I saw her after that. I thought I would just do lighting or something small. but what could I do? It was evil. and I was a little surprised when it hopped up the steps toward me—very quickly. and stay only for a certain time. So I leapt from a sitting position on the stairs to a position about six feet behind us to avoid it. computer people. study the strangest things. a theatre group that produces little pieces for the residents. I looked down the stairs. “Where are you from? What do you study? How long have you been here?” You will always get interesting answers. When I got 28 . and there was the ﬁrst NYC rat I had ever seen. Till my personal growth spurt. But when it got within a foot of me. and God knows what else. pleasant conversation. I wanted to do lots of things. I just knew it wanted to rip my leg off. lawyers. So I checked out the Actor’s Playhouse. architects. you usually start each conversation with the mantra. The rat hopped into the park. I was a very shy and retiring type of guy. I tell you. I might add.” The rat looked up at me and got this evil look in its eye. I found out that she was married and never bothered to tell me. dancers. The woman had not seen the rat yet. As I was eating my ice cream and talking to her. And I have forgotten all their names. acting.
Everybody likes him. He turned it into a living room and put in posters and sculptures. Then we had an incident. So our nice place doesn’t exist anymore. I use the men’s room. There are only ﬁve people living around me. But the women in my wing have to walk all the way across the building. Finally they decided the futon in the lounge brought in the bed bugs. but then we had an infestation of bed bugs on our ﬂoor. which was ﬁne. They took it and everything else. I have never had to wait more than 2 minutes for anything. I know for a fact the futon was not infested with bed bugs— they just wanted something to blame the bugs on. My room gets very little ventilation and it faces the subway. For a while I could not sleep. four showers and four toilets. I have completely blocked it out. for example. and it got crowded. He brought in plants and lights and extra furniture. Robert. but I think ours always was the best. with everything you could want. it is perfect. but they would not go away. Now I don’t hear it at all unless I pay attention to it. Other ﬂoors tried to copy our nice place. I was told that the reason was because the singers wanted nonsmoking ﬂoors. because some time ago someone walked into a women’s restroom 29 . Then the staff tore up the beds and cleaned everything. I met so many characters on the ﬂoor that I was a little overwhelmed. And I go in and there are four sinks. Someone brought in a futon. is incredibly intelligent. Most of the time I am around quiet people. and they don’t bother me. It was beautiful. People from other ﬂoors were coming to our ﬂoor to use our lounge. and it is twelve feet from my door. it was loaded with a huge population of singers. because I had to keep my window open. People were waking up with red dots all over them from being bitten.there. He is a singer and made it his project to beautify the lounge. charming and sociable. I-House staff kept trying to get rid of the bugs. so the subway was all I would hear. and if you meet him you will never forget him. The ladies’ room is always locked.
It is all very sad. you meet wonderful people. A radio signal can be transmitted along a piece of metal. Photonics is designing and creating devices that control and manipulate light. and we hit it off immediately. It turns out that if you can move into high frequencies. I’m ﬁnishing my second year.and did something inappropriate. The worst thing about I-House is that everyone that comes in is going to leave again. There is a 3-year limit in I-House. and photonics is about pushing light around in a way that is useful. but then they have to leave. you can carry more information at the same time. I know people that were here a year before me and they are now leaving. photonic devices could do most of the things electronics do now. electronics is about pushing electrons around. The ﬁeld I am studying is photonics. Which means anything involved in sending and transmitting information can transmit a whole bunch more in the same time period than if they use a lower frequency. Potentially. Electronics cannot handle high frequency light because the physics is different. I have met people three days before they left. I would live here as long as I was going to live in New York. But higher frequency light 30 . only cheaper. I came to New York to pursue a doctorate in Applied Physics at Columbia University. Now all the women have to carry keys to use the restroom. But radio waves have low frequencies and long wavelengths. Light forms the electromagnetic spectrum. into the visible range and beyond the ultraviolet. It is a big deal in the communications industry. If they’d let me. So radio waves are a form of light. so that means I have only one more year. you are sending a light wave. When you communicate with radio. and got a lot of people upset. better and with fewer restrictions. like an antenna. It happens all the time here. It is similar to electronics.
we sometimes write software that simulates how these devices work. I would jump. It’s the type of thing where you have 112 steps to get from the beginning to the end. and it is insane. using new materials like lithium niobate crystal. because they usually have fairly good machines and poor security. it can get very complicated and time consuming. I have to do lab maintenance duties as well. You have to use other. Most hackers are not incredibly bright. and use software that others have written as tools.can’t be transmitted in the same way. or it is worthless. For the past two years most of my work was learning to handle these things. Since I have a lot of programming in my background. but if something else would really catch my attention. Like maintaining the computers. because I dropped the crystals on the ﬂoor. This is a big deal. The hackers like university systems. I have six projects now. We have hacker attacks every once in while. So what I am doing is making improvements on existing devices. some knowledge. you have to go back and repeat it. So they will break in where it is easy to do so. That is one of the things I have to look into now. In addition. I had to learn to be careful. and this gives them power. and putting them together in new ways. like glasses and certain crystals. I am also trying to do some software projects. I cannot tell you how many hours of work I ruined. My work is interesting for now. It is like handing them a gun—power gained without discipline. transparent materials. because we aren’t security experts. and none of us really knows how to deal with those. They have some interest. so that we can design them better. to make devices that can transmit this light. If you mess up any of those. this is what I wanted to focus on—I feel more comfortable with it. I am not concerned about ﬁnding the one career path and sticking to 31 . as opposed to government or corporate systems.
Maybe we are somehow blind and don’t see 32 . America has not always done the best it could have done. everyone could interact with their surroundings a lot more and would not feel bound by what they should and shouldn’t do.it. That’s wonderful! Maybe we Americans have our heads in clouds of illusions. That is possible because right now. I’m a little proud as well. I will probably be ﬁnished with my doctorate and possibly have an additional Masters in Computer Science. so I can wrap up any incomplete projects. Aristotle said that the mark of an educated mind is the ability to entertain a thought without accepting it. I think if everyone had that level of power. In that position. Education is a very good thing. It would also allow me to continue any work I might have left unﬁnished in the group. I might do that. Life. I could end up going out and getting a job in the corporate world. but it would be enough to maintain the life I live now. and that is ﬁne. Five years from now. but it has done more than other countries. I want to develop. I might stay with the university a little while longer as a postdoctoral student. because I know other people in the world have it so much worse. I need the intellectual challenge. There is always hope. Many people would have fewer or smaller problems. You can improve your life. in terms of ethical responsibilities. because I want to get some money together to make sure I can live comfortably. I have several degrees and a broad education. I am glad to be an American. but it would be good to have them. liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable rights in my country. we don’t have any postdoctoral people in our research group. I would not be getting a lot of money. because I could do a lot of things. I believe in potential. I am glad that I have so many opportunities to learn and enjoy a peaceful life.
I don’t consider anyone who lives differently as being less than myself. We have a government that allows us to make new decisions. race or belief system 33 . as new crises develop. or convince them that my way of living is the best. You have to be able to evolve. Without that type of thing. which is a very true concept. A lot of the world has given up on things like democracy. Now you are starting to see it. But it also prevents us from being jaded about bad things. America has always been the place people all over the world look to. Everyone wanted to come here. corporations and governments all over the world come here to invest.reality. because other countries are developing very fast. We carry the philosophy of strength through diversity. without ﬂexibility. We believe we can correct the situation. the leader of the world. rigid system that is just going to collapse. They have sent their brightest minds to America to study. While we don’t do everything very well. We have always had spirit of innovation like. because we seem to have a very good track record at being successful and prosperous. we do adapt and change over time. justice and human rights. we believe we can solve the problems. but it is not something we can hold on to forever. because people are more educated. in many ways. and now those minds are going back home.” In a lot of countries you don’t see that. We are. because I like the idea of liberty and democracy. But I don’t like to tell people what to do. you get stuck in a static. pulling together people from a wide variety of fields while maintaining the idea that everyone is individual. A different religion. This is why we are allowed to have a $3 trillion national debt and people are still willing to give us money. Maybe we often don’t have a clue of how the rest of the world works. “Let’s try it and see if it will work. Even now. I like that the American cultural inﬂuence has spread across the world.
because I like the city very much. I know a woman who could be my future wife. But maybe I’m wrong. but who knows? I might want ﬁve kids later. but I don’t know if that’s completely true. I know that if I pick someone who is not within her expectations. And maybe my mom will surprise me—she’s done it before. I want to settle down later. she would want someone interested in raising a family instead of a career. Some 34 . That’s the wrong attitude. SHE is definitely doing what she wants. That is what most mothers want. because she has to deal with it more closely. almost like depressions. She also had unintentionally given me a taste of what it means to live in hell. I like the idea of kids. and the lows were very low. But I pity the poor guys who marry someone like their mother.should not be a reason to condemn people. a second mother for their sons. Since our remarkable date I told you about. The decision to have kids is a big deal and. but I am certainly not going to insist that she should do all the work—that would be like asking for trouble. I am pretty sure my mom is not going to get what she wants. My mom deﬁnitely wants me to get married. I expected her to react in certain ways and became upset when she didn’t. or accuse them of being evil. but for now I’ll stay in New York. I suppose she would want a white catholic woman and someone like herself. I want a wife who knows what she wants and is willing to do it. She says she would be happy with anyone. I think anything that opens our minds is a good thing. hers would tend to have more weight. I don’t want a big family. although both votes count. I want to have a happy life. Ideally. I thought that she was misleading me at times. I think. one or two kids would be enough. I went through these highs and lows. I would have troubles with her.
It’s in the past now. we are together now. though. At one point. But it was all me. everything appears a lot bigger than it actually is. So I was making mountains out of molehills. but I was not in the most reasonable state of mind at the time. me and my emotional baggage. It was a silly thing to try. I decided the only way I was going to cope with it all was to destroy any feelings I had for her. and I can laugh about it. and that is a big beneﬁt in a lot of ways. and we are very happy. I actually tried to do this. I blew out of context.things she said. but fortunately it did not work. really. 35 . That is all I’ve ever wanted. She and I. But when you look at things under the microscope. I have always been focused on details.
Usually there is no internal heating. What my husband and I did was to live in one part of the house—the bedroom.CHAPTER 3 Mapule—South Africa: Black Is Beautiful I really miss the summer. so it would be comfortable. we would still need to sit under the blankets in order to feel warm and comfortable. and since it was December. and one hour before we’d have to wake up we’d switch the heater on again. I just loved going home after living in New York for almost a year. and it was better to warm up one place and close the door. We avoided the rest of the house because it was too cold. We have dry winters. my home was really cold. there was a lot of snow. but they are really expensive. we would turn the heater off. and sometimes we have temperatures about 35 degrees Fahrenheit. and I went home to visit my family. But there the winter had just started. we worked in the bedroom and we watched TV in the bedroom. My body is desperate for it. Often times. At night. and in the mountains they can even drop below the freezing point. You have to use electrical heaters. 36 . And the same thing happened to me again and again. Last winter. it can get quite chilly. In South Africa. After nine months in New York it became summer here. so if it is cold outside. We ate in the bedroom. Even if it was the beginning of winter. it is cold in the house as well. I haven’t had summer for almost three years. When I came to New York it was the end of winter in South Africa and the beginning of fall in North America. It was getting colder and colder.
Yeah. my dad. After that really delicious meal. my bags were taken and we went to the parking lot. somehow I thought everything would be different since I had left. lungs. They were asking me questions about my experiences like. my niece and nephews and many friends of mine. I was alone with my husband. and we went straight to my home. because you’ve gotten back home safely. my brother and two sisters. It took the meat six hours to be soft. and it was the opportunity of a lifetime.D. because we don’t have those at home. I just couldn’t stop hugging my husband. we didn’t know what opportunities 37 . It’s a cultural thing to do so. They all looked exactly the same. got into two cars. because I was so happy to see them all. everyone went home. It was up to me to clean it and separate different parts of the meat. the lining of the stomach and all that. It’s tradition. my husband was studying for his Ph. So I went to Harlem and I got her stuff. drinking juice and talking a lot. There I found the sheep that had already been slaughtered. He also has funding from an organization and couldn’t just stop doing it. we sat in the garden. Then we ate the meat. We would eat the intestines. It’s to give thanks to your ancestors. heart. Finally. My sister wanted many pictures of black people.When I arrived at the airport in Johannesburg after a 17-hour ﬂight. Also. I bought sneakers. but it was the same. It takes a long time to cook the liver. I got CDs that weren’t out in South Africa yet. like clothes. “What was the snow like? Have you made friends? Have you seen movie stars? Are American cars really as big and beautiful as on TV?” I had brought presents for my close family and friends. But when I got it. mixed with white and red beans. I got a Fulbright scholarship to come to New York. So. For my parents. my whole family was there: my mom. I was crying.
But I was sure as well that both of us would be strong enough. It was my ﬁrst time in America. and he would not be able to not have a job. I still remember the woman at the front desk. I only had a $100 bill. but the machine didn’t work. He is a very hard working person. or any prospects. and I didn’t feel welcome here at all. and would have to just sit around and just be my husband. In I-House it seemed that I was the only one who was excited to be there. I knew long ago that this was the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with.” He was really nice and even helped me carry my bags right into I-House. I wanted to get money at the airport. When I told the taxi driver. She was very busy and didn’t really notice my big smile. We had a very good foundation before I left. “It’s so good that you’ll study at such a good institution. and after that go back home to do good. in New York. and I should go and do my Ph. He was happy and said. because that is not the kind of relationship we have. A lot of people.D. I still remember the day I arrived in New York City.might exist in New York for him. But his attitude changed once he calmed down a bit and asked me. would ask me. So we both decided that he had to ﬁnish the degree ﬁrst. he was very annoyed with me like. and why did you come?” Then I told him that I was going to go to Columbia University and study at Teacher’s College. “Are you not afraid he will have an affair? Are you not afraid that you will grow distant and that he won’t love you anymore?” Those things don’t occur to me at all. “How on earth do you think I can change a $100 bill?” That was my introduction. 38 . especially women. and I took a cab to get from the airport to International House on Manhattan. It was around seven in the morning. “Where are you from. I was sure that being separated would not be easy.
So I thought everything would be polished here. “WOW! I have come all this way from South Africa. I had never used a gas stove without matches. Security is good as well. too. and so I didn’t see them much. and we are made to feel that we are really lagging behind. But she was very busy. because it didn’t look like an international airport to me. and I could see the city and Hudson River and Riverside Park with all its trees. So. like my other roommate. I was concerned about how I was going to adjust.I thought. 39 . One of my roommates was one of the ﬁrst people I met. It was so simple and so dull. or books and clothes. The airport was the first disappointment.” I got out of her way as fast as possible and went to my room in a shared apartment. I couldn’t believe that I was here. She showed me the American system. too. and lots of light. and everything would just be the best. Driving through the city was like driving through any city back home. You can go anywhere in the city in a matter of minutes. and if I would make friends. I didn’t meet my roommates until the second day of my arrival. I wanted to feel like home. South Africa has very good infrastructure. I was impressed about the subway here. little impressed me or shocked me. and be safe on the train. It is fantastic because of the mobility it gives people. and we have high buildings. so I could buy stuff for the kitchen. She also took me downtown. I loved my room because it had a huge window. and she showed me around the apartment. I was in such a hurry to get set up.m. Back home. It was surprising to me that I could be out at 2 a. a lot is made of ‘ﬁrst world’ countries. and I could not believe that this is what America was like. and the ﬁrst thing she makes me do is ﬁll out all those forms. and that is good. One morning she introduced herself to me and asked me where I was from.
I missed my home very much. “All that America is doing is democratizing the world and introducing the world to things they normally would not be introduced to. I told myself over and over again why it was important for me to be here. I came into Davis Hall and sat at a huge table with all those other people from other countries I had never been with before. In his speech he made an argument like. It really is a gesture of goodwill. He spoke from his heart and mind. he answered some questions. and it is as if you are valued and appreciated. But we will only take from the West what is good for Africa. I still remember the public speaker that lectured after the fabulous dinner. and I stood up in front of 300 people. It was so special. During Sunday Supper. I am really broadening my perspective.The worst thing in the beginning was that I had to eat alone. On Sunday Supper. I was not so much impressed by what he said. I talked and enjoyed their company.” And I said: “I think there is American imperialism. Although I was thrilled of being here in the States and in I-House. but it is done with dignity and class. Until my ﬁrst Sunday Supper. and I had almost always eaten alone in my room.” That is what I said. I had to pay for every single meal. which I have never done before. I was overwhelmed with emotion. And there are other things of importance. and I think that imperialism is being pushed due to ﬁnancial and economic reasons. After he ﬁnished.” 40 . because I was absolutely not used to that. Sunday Supper was the ﬁrst act of generosity I have been shown here. He was so full of conﬁdence and did not rely on his notes. but how he said it. It was just an incredible evening. “I will get a doctorate from Columbia. I-House feeds over 300 residents and it is free. I would tell myself. The paper is important.
It was an opportunity to show people a side of Africa they might not know. in Argentina they have serious unemployment issues today. One of the stereotypes 41 . people from Asian countries are all very studious. And they have serious crime issues due to dictatorships. and that you shouldn’t try to convert them.I had a lot of stereotypes of people. and people have all these different inﬂuences. I had stereotypes of Asian people. and still have them. I thought. and what apartheid has done is. But I am learning that you cannot do that. Having access to all these people from other countries has given me an incredible sense of pride. but they are slowly being broken. Before I came here. reserved and only interested in engineering and science. history and people’s aspirations. creative Asian people with a strong interest in arts. It was part of events to celebrate Black History Month. literally and ﬁguratively. To live in I-House is to learn that you can’t put your own values on other people—that you need to respect the values of other people. Like. During Black Mosaic Week. and if you are white you have another perspective. and that my culture is as good as any other culture. and there are reasons why people have all these perspectives that they have. because it is very simplistic. make me see things in terms of black and white. if you are black you usually have this perspective. I have learned now that I am just as good as anyone. we organized a literacy night. I didn’t know anything about South America. Things are much more complex and people are multi-layered. and it is striking to learn what the similarities are to my country in terms of culture. People there go through the same kind of struggle that people in Africa go through on a daily basis. I thought. and that is not how the world works. In I-House. which was in spring. very quiet. race is a serious issue in South Africa. due to colonialism. For instance. I met very outspoken.
because if you don’t see the color of my skin. next to my husband. I like to wear clothes that have bright colors. I like black clothes as well. and people are starving and ﬁghting. And the response of the audience was great. “I don’t see the color of your skin. I didn’t know who would make the call home. I don’t believe it when people say to me.” I don’t believe it is true.” I read an excerpt from the speech of our president that he gave to the parliament when our constitution was adopted. and he writes a lot of his speeches himself.of Africa is that it is just this desolate wasteland. I battled with it every day. Also culturally it is different. Although there was so much going on at my school and in I-House. like I didn’t know anything about anything. No one cared two cents on whether I was okay. It was all so different. Yes.” It talks so beautifully and afﬁrmatively of Africa and Africans. I questioned my coming here. because I didn’t know if getting a doctorate from Columbia University was worth giving up one hour with my 42 . I missed just laying in my own bed in my room. Our president is very well read. you don’t see me. and crime is high. They look good on me. I often felt like a child here. “I didn’t know that there are 100 African writers. Here. I like the color of my skin. I didn’t have anyone to depend on. The color of my skin is part of who I am. you can have an interesting conversation with someone for an hour. I am proud to be an African. If something would have happened to me. I was so proud to read that. But that same person will not recognize you the day after. “I am an African. And one person wondered aloud. I read something out of his essay. When we prepared the literacy night. And I’m proud of my country South Africa. we made a list of 100 of the most popular African writers. I was often incredibly homesick. when it’s really dark. especially after summer. Black is beautiful. I missed the sense of belonging.
even if it only was for ﬁve minutes. but I saw them. I was upset. That is what makes me happiest. One of the important things from the beginning was that he wanted what I wanted—someone to settle down with. eating her food and walking on the soil I am used to. He proposed to me and made me cry. and eventually he went to a party I was at as well. you work through it. you don’t just leave. How could he be laying on the table? He was there with a friend of mine. and I did not have them here. And somehow we fell deeply in love. I thought that I was making a worthwhile investment. because it was more and more difficult to wake up in the morning and stay committed to school. it became really bad. He is patient and very calm. The ﬁrst time I ever saw him was at the university we both went to in Johannesburg. From the second month on without him. saved some money. A lasting relationship you want to work on every day. I thought that was very special. because I was so happy. He was lying there with his whole body. generous and kind. He is loving and affectionate. He was lying on a table in the library. He is also very intelligent. and being with my mother. But at other times I thought that I was the stupidest woman I know. If it gets tough. He is open. “Yes. I don’t remember clearly what happened. Every day. I spoke to my husband on the phone. and he gets on well with everyone. I missed my husband so very much. They didn’t see me.husband. The most important thing for me is my family. He kissed me on the forehead. we are going to get married. At times. After the party he walked me home. because after that we started greeting each other. and I thought that was just so arrogant and rude. got our degrees. He is wonderful and he has a pure heart. and after five more years we formalized our relationship.” We lived together for three years. So after a year we decided. 43 .
I grew up in a garage where you usually would keep a car. and we’d live out of suitcase. and it was very hot outside. But they gave us beautiful gifts. We played in the streets. He had to pay a bride price for taking me away. protect me. given the way he was raised. In the morning of the wedding I had to wear a dress and sit on the ﬂoor. It was very emotional. They said that I should be patient with him. He does not like doing it. and that was quite special as well. he doesn’t expect me to do everything. There were two older women sitting next to me and talking to me about what it means to be a wife. I wore a white dress and veil. we had a traditional wedding at his home in Port Elizabeth. I should respect him and always put him ﬁrst. There was a small place barely big enough to ﬁt a double bed in. not be angry with him. We had a little parafﬁn stove. and be good to him. His grandmother raised him. So. There was no wardrobe. He doesn’t really cook. but he doesn’t have a problem with housework. There were 44 . respect me. and he irons much better than I do. He sews better than I sew. After school I went home and played with friends. but he doesn’t refuse to do it. After that. I should do everything for him. My parents made it up like a bedroom and lounge area. and how I should treat my husband. They were very generous. It is kind of a contradiction for the old people of his family to say those things. I think it is a little sexist that there should be separate work for women and men. It was just a garage. I went to school. and to provide for me. we had a traditional wedding at my parent’s home. There was no bathroom. His family is not very rich. and it was pretty. because there was no garden or park outside.We had three ceremonies. cook and clean. wash. When I was six. It was hard. He was told to love me. Then we got married in a Western wedding at a church. First. and we had a wonderful time.
She did the washing by hand. because they lived so far away from their place of work in town. The objective was to throw the balls and scatter the cans. About six in the evening. She also did our hair on Sunday. Then we would have dinner and listen to the radio and talk. When it rained. We all got to bed around nine. After that. I didn’t really see the differences between black and white people in my country. She sewed clothes all day long. and rice. cheese or cold meats were luxury. There was never enough money to pay the bills.about eight kids in my group. My parents had to get up early. but simple things like milk. She was a machinist making clothes in a factory. and my older sister would come home from school. The boss said. To me it was normal to live with three people in a room that had no light. My mom was always out of the house at half past ﬁve from Monday through Friday. My father worked as a ﬁling clerk in a law ﬁrm. it was muddy and terrible to move around. you would see eggs. which 45 . Once my father went to his boss and asked for a raise. There was no money for the holidays. although he worked hard. We played with coffee cans and tennis balls. and to live in a community where there was no maintenance of roads or anything. I got clothes and shoes once a year. And at home she would do all the work. He didn’t get a good salary. maize. I can’t say we ever went hungry. My father had an ofﬁce job. so he would leave about six in the morning. I had to wash myself and wear my nightclothes. “If you spent less money on food. because there was such little money. She always ironed on Sunday and prepared a big lunch on a Sunday. you’d have enough money. If you opened our fridge.” We always ate the cheapest food. bread. We had to do homework and prepare for the next day. Only white people where allowed to live in towns. my parents would come home from work. When I was little.
I remember her very small house. she would always be there for her four children. She had a husband that would physically abuse her on regular basis. and no electricity. Next I want her to have a computer. But it didn’t matter how hard things were. there was the system of Apartheid. so that she could communicate with me via email. She had a job that she had to get to provide for us kids. I want her to rest. no hot water. or a restaurant. and she wants everyone to be happy. nobody in the family seems to know how. She changed the last name of her family. I understand the pain and the hurt and the hardship she went through. I don’t know how she did it. you were not allowed to buy 46 . I just bought her a washing machine when I went home from New York for the ﬁrst time. since we can’t talk on the phone. so we communicate with her in sign language.took hours. She worked hard and never let her disability limit her. My mom is deaf. my grandmother made a very important decision. In South Africa. a neighborhood for black people. I am there for her. She is the strongest woman I know. I think she is a very good woman. They had a corrugated roof. I feel very close to my mom and I respect her a lot. When I’m at home. I stimulate her. the park. If you were black. My father’s mother lived in a township. She was so busy. I take her out of the house a lot to go to the movies. you had no access to good education. She has a good heart. I am like a friend to her. I want her to have a better life. Inside there was no bathroom. She had to survive in that world. From your last name everybody could tell which group of people you belonged to. When my father was young. black and colored people. All citizens were separated into white. so when it was raining you could hear it on the roof. I think her life is very difﬁcult. because society doesn’t know how to deal with disabled people.
I wouldn’t talk my native language anymore. They only educated you to be a domestic. It was a normal government secondary school. We learned English and Afrikaans and needed those languages to live in society. She taught needlework to girls. She wanted everybody to think that we were colored. No one came after me to check my homework. My grandmother wanted her family to have better opportunities in life. and that’s why she changed the name. It meant we didn’t go to a black school where we knew the quality of education was inferior. which was about a ﬁve-minute walk from our home. I always knew that my parents were working hard in order to provide a better life for their kids. but on your personal life as well. you did not have the same rights as a white person. and the guys would do wood work. My parents taught me by example that the way you can live a better life is to be educated.property or to take a loan. It was always my responsibility. My parents just expected me to do my share. With his new name. During those classes. being considered colored. As a colored person. She didn’t just focus on school. So. It had huge consequences. but at least you had more rights. They just wanted you to do menial work. my father was able to take a loan and to buy a house. with his new name. because now we lived in the world of the colored people. like a gardener. There was one teacher I liked the most. Also. She was smart and approachable. I went to a high school. We were about 40 people in the classroom. she would 47 . It was the worst education. when I was eight. An education there meant that one would have no ability to work in a professional job. was that we could go to a colored school where the education was better. There I learned Afrikaans. my father was able to send us to better schools. Whereas the implication for us. we moved into our own house and into a very different neighborhood.
so the next year I was able to get money from the university. “Don’t try to get into sex early. But I always pushed myself to be the best. I used to come to the library to read all the time. But somehow. Work hard and make something of your life!” I hated math and accounting. But we had to be taught. I would struggle. because my parents had the whole year to pay the fees.say something like. It was so abstract. It was a good system. to write an article. It was very difﬁcult for me to go there. which I didn’t have to pay back. and economics and biology. so I was able to pay as well. After. and had to work even harder. It was when you came to university you had this big gap to overcome. but I could not decide what was important and what was not. I would have to be in the same space that white people were excelling in. I had to get the highest grades. It gave me a lot of pride. I knew if I were to make a difference. They were able to make sacriﬁces. History class was awful. In most classes. I ﬁnished high school with very good results. and I worked part time. I also got a merit award three years after I started. to write an essay. the ﬁrst year they provided the money for the fees. The kids liked me and the teachers liked me. not based on the reality I could see or imagine. I did well at the end of the ﬁrst year. The university I went to was one of the best in South Africa. because we weren’t taught those skills. because I knew that the quality of education was not as good as in white universities. 48 . The university had academic support classes. I would try to keep up with all the things that were coming out of the professor’s mouth. This is for older people. but I had to repay that money when I graduated. and you would never ﬁnd white kids in these classes. there were only one or two black people in the crowd. because my parents had not much money. I didn’t want to go to a historically black university.
and you don’t have to make an effort.I used to take the bus. I would wonder. I started looking for money to go overseas. went through the whole process of application. Somehow I managed it. and I had to make it through the day with water.D. Unfortunately. I think most people are comfortable to maintain the stereotypes. It is very uncomfortable when you sit in the same space with someone and do not get acknowledged. they are in the minority. I would be in a management position in the company where I work. and they would eat in the cafeteria. at Columbia University. making a real impact and making a name for myself. or get dropped off. I have a dream job. Most of the white kids would completely ignore me. So I came up with the idea to do my Ph. I see myself as a fast developing businesswoman. I’ll go back to South Africa. They would much rather be with their kind and they have these myths and stereotypes. The white kids would arrive in their mom’s or dad’s cars. and it took me an hour to get to school. I was working full time as a high school teacher. Someone told me not to receive all my degrees at the same university. because it is less work. in America. and that is when I found the Fulbright scholarship. There are exceptions. I will be developing programs for executives for staff and designing policy strategies. and I got it. After I ﬁnish the Ph. I 49 . I have met white people who are nice and genuine and caring. and will go out on a limb for you. I knew I wanted to do a Ph. I didn’t have money for lunch. “How was this possible?” They always seemed to know more and to have more. They don’t want to talk to the other kind if they don’t have to. and looked so fresh. and I think black people also have these stereotypes about white people. When I was doing my masters.D.D. I think I know white people well. I applied.
And black people ideally own these small companies. I think that is where the need is. and this is what I’ll offer. Therefore you need good educated staff. 50 . so what you need is not only white people who open businesses and employ black people. like I had a chance. I want that. So that is what I see. This time I go home. It will be such a good time. I don’t. It will be a business that helps small to medium size companies to develop their people. it will be summer in South Africa. It is important for these businesses to be sustainable and proﬁtable. I want it all! Soon. I can’t wait to hug my husband. I’m going home for Christmas. But it is also important for me to have a happy marriage and a good relationship with my husband. I want that authority to say YES. I’m so desperate for warmth. there is a serious unemployment problem. because I don’t want to work for someone forever. There I want to make a lot of money and invest that money in my own business that I’m going to run. I don’t want any limits in my life. but also black people who own businesses that can employ other people who are unemployed. That is why I work so hard and study so hard. because he’ll come with me. That is power to me. We’ll live together in I-House in New York. I want to be able to employ other people with the same background and give them a chance. so that these people can work hard and increase productivity for the companies. because only then they will be able to employ other people. and to create a good home for our children. I want to feel the sun on my skin.intend to work for this company for ﬁve to ten years. or NO. We will never be separated again. In South Africa.
my sister and 51 . but also rarely have there been organized places for people to be buried. it’s true. But imagine—there are people buried underneath there. you walk around them. there’s a cemetery. but then my father improvised it and we ended up having a real toilet. And inside you have a long hallway and at the sides. Our apartment was 32 square meters. We had two rooms and we were four persons there. there’s a grave. buildings would cover these places. my parents. The building I grew up in was a barrack. Plus. there are little doors. The graves are old and nobody really pays attention to them anymore. It was made of brick. In the beginning. and there are several of them in our garden. In front of my house. Yes. And in Sarajevo. where I come from. And it is because. it’s only one story high and they have entrances at the shorter sides. I wrote an article in the most popular magazine in Bosnia. It was a story about cemeteries in Sarajevo. You can see it. Later. every community would have its own cemetery. During the war. surrounded by other barracks.CHAPTER 4 Edin—Bosnia: I’m an Urban Product I grew up on a cemetery. So wherever there’s a mosque. And the thesis was that Sarajevo is the city with the most cemeteries in the world. very fragile and not fancy at all. there are many. That’s where my home used to be. They’re long. because of the rich Muslim tradition that came with the Ottoman Empire. as the city grew. not only is the city over 500 years old. many mosques. there was no toilet inside. but it was very. so certain cemeteries were totally leveled and now it’s called downtown.
their parents were. But then. and I slept on the ﬂoor. It was like. Kids could walk around and nobody paid any attention. There was this long street that started at the bottom and went all the way to the top of a hill. But in my close neighborhood pretty much everybody was poor. So we went off on our own. Sometimes neighbors would watch me. I didn’t know anything else to compare it to. My mother would leave the key with them. the parents slept in one bed. it was a socialist country and we were poor.I. I went to elementary school and got to see how other people lived. the police are going to come and take them away. since I’d escape through the window.” and that was about it. and once I went to kindergarten and made him escape. And they would tell me. The bigger room was the living room. who is three years older than me. Later. I’d come back from school and nobody would be 52 . I was still pretty much on my own. And so I spent the ﬁrst ﬁfteen years of my life. The smaller room was like a kitchen. slept in the other bed. When I was about ﬁve years old. if no one else does ﬁrst. but at least it was really safe. We’d just walk around. I had a friend who went to kindergarten everyday. So. all the kids from that street were supposed to go to that school. Sometimes that turned into trouble. I’d go down to school with all the kids. “don’t touch this and don’t touch that. And a lot of them were much better off—I mean. and we would usually all sleep there as well. my sister would go to school. my sister. You know. They couldn’t afford a nanny and they couldn’t afford kindergarten. and they would come in and check up on me. But here in New York. when I was in school. I thought it was normal. my parents would go to work and I would stay at home. We lived at the top of the hill and the school was at the bottom. really poor. if you see two ﬁve year olds walking on Broadway. That’s the ﬁrst time I was exposed to that. Then I saw that a lot of them had their own rooms and they would go abroad for vacation.
We had neighbors who did that. And of course I didn’t tell anybody. So at night you would come and try to climb and get the fruits without the owner catching you. Some people had gardens in front of their houses with apple. I knew exactly which store they were talking about. because I was there when they discovered that it would be easy to get in that kiosk. there were very narrow streets. Imagine—she was cleaning his room and she found a stack of a thousand tickets. because 53 . She immediately went to the police and turned her son in. newspapers. and stuff like that. My friends took pretty much everything that was worth anything there. sometimes. these things got more serious. since we were friends and played soccer all the time together. because it was very near to the scene of the crime. that’s an enormous amount of money.home. two guys told me that they were going to rob a store. In the neighborhood. I helped them to hide it in my barrack. you’d steal things. But as we grew older. and the next day they came to me and told me that they had robbed the store. We were not like a real gang. But then they wanted to hide it in another place. They hid it. when I was about 13. cigarettes. I went back home. but then nothing really happened. and each one was worth half a dollar. I’d leave the bag in the house and go out. junkies or heroin addicts. We were nicer. we weren’t carrying knives. Well. like fruits. little candy. Most of the kids I grew up with pretty much turned into criminals. so my friends and I would play on the streets. But then the mother of one of the kids found transportation tickets. not much trafﬁc and no playgrounds. They just got us out of there. plum or cherry trees. It’s like a tobacco shop here. which altogether made them worth 500 dollars! In my country. But sometimes they would catch you. One night. And I was the next person the police thought of. So. They sold public transportation tickets.
To me it was fun. so he basically escaped from his village. He came to Sarajevo to work as a welder for a company. To get to elementary school in that place. I hate that place where they come from. And that’s only elementary school. you have to walk forty-ﬁve minutes one-way on paths where there is nobody. he really wanted the cigarettes. You put on the mask. To get to high school. It’s in the hills. We ate so many sweets after that! But one of the other guys. He’s nice.I spent a lot of time with him. from villages in eastern Bosnia. 54 . he told the cop. It’s really ridiculous. get the other one!” So. It’s really scary. you’ve got to let this guy go. Shortly after the police came to my house. He’s like. I was alone and they took me away. I didn’t see any value in the whole thing. you heat up the metal and connect it. The police guy was threatening me like. it’s dark.” Me. My parents never talked to me about values. But you have to give them credit. He did that. Who would do this every day? My father just had this little three-year high school education to enable him to be a welder. So you’d spend four hours a day walking back and forth to school. I know that he didn’t rob the store. “I don’t know anything about it. beside the sweets. They never gave me books to read. the third kid came and he denied everything. they cracked him. The two guys returned everything of value that was left. so you have to walk through snow and if you leave early in the morning. In the winter.” But the other kid’s father. “Look. My parents aren’t educated at all. but get the other one. Of course. and when gas comes on. there’s nothing there and people are ignorant and so backwards. I think they probably let him go later. because he wanted to sell them. it is a two-hour walk one way. nobody cleans the snow. “We’re going to send you to prison. They both came to Sarajevo thirty years ago. I told them everything.
And then she tries to keep it to herself. I guess. My mother escaped the village in the hills.He came without anything. So she never really got what she wanted. If I wanted to go to musical school after regular school. she gets bitter about this. So whenever she sees somebody with opportunities. There are only a few things that make her angry with me. forget about everything else. because they wouldn’t let me do anything else. But they always told me that school was the most important thing in the world. I think if she had been born into a wealthy city family. my father would ask me. because then you won’t do well in school. I hated it after a while. My parents never helped me out with my homework. He suffered many years in that horrible job in Sarajevo. They didn’t even let her go to high school. “How are you going to do? What grades will you 55 . or if I wanted to play soccer or basketball. not the one my friends robbed. no. and instead of studying she had to work. “No. and I think he went as far as he could. because she never had any. which was free. like my father. When she came to the city. he lives a better life. They always said that. I guess it’s tough. really tough. she would have probably been a professor or something— most likely in literature. She likes me a lot and she is always ready to forgive. But she lived in a place where you were not supposed to read books and listen to music. they would say. Now. no. but then he started his own business. I think he’s very smart. She likes books and she likes foreign music.” Good grades were all they wanted. In Sarajevo she worked as a salesperson in a kiosk. At the beginning of each school year. She is really into that—you can feel it. But I think she’s bitter about the lack of opportunities in her life. She was supposed to work in the ﬁelds or take care of the cattle or cook lunch. she was suppressed by the bad ﬁnancial situation.
” and he would say. It was an “elite” school. he could never ask me. I mean. their daughter came home with a bad grade and the parents freaked out. “That’s it.” Apart from that. When I came to the U. Once. I should ﬁgure it out. The best physicists. “Ok. “Tell her to study. But they trusted me a lot and I would usually not exceed their expectations. and gave me bad grades. So even today. and I thought. did any one get an A from her?” And I would have to say. “Is that it?” And I would say. There’s another thing my parents taught me: It’s always my fault. it’s just that the grade was wrong. language and computer specialists in Bosnia-Herzegovina at the time. I knew better. It was the best school in the Republic. some people got an A. “Yeah. “You know. he would ask me. “What are you doing in math?” He had no idea. mathematicians. If somebody gets an A. why can’t you be like somebody else?” I would always get that from them. and the 56 . “Well. “It is your fault. That’s basically how I approach things. nor my mother. at 22 years. There you have these geniuses around you. I had to pass a tough test to get in. I looked at their daughter. and they called the teacher and questioned her about why their daughters’ grade was bad.” and my parents would tell me. I’d have to tell my parents. My high school in Sarajevo was quite hard at times.” You know. they all came from my school. again. I always think it’s my problem. what does the teacher have to do with it? There was this teacher at my elementary school and she really didn’t like me. I lived with an American family for a couple years in North Carolina before I moved to college.” At the end of the year. if I get a bad grade or if I have a problem with homework.” They would say.get?” And I would tell him “I’m going to get this. Then. we never spoke about school.S.
and so I did not care much. They sent over 150 students. This American family I later lived with. in Raleigh. The son skipped only one class. I always felt pity for people who had all A’s because they never attended the parties. I told my parents.” He accepted that. was a classic example of how I didn’t want to live my high school life. which ran this program. The main reason I came to New York was to study at Columbia University. I thought they were ridiculous.S. Soon they were willing to give me more money for a more expensive education. and he had to come earlier for the next classes to do additional work at school. I met a member of the organization. it goes back to ’95 when I ﬁrst came to the U.S. Then I ended up at the University of North Carolina. and the school authorities immediately called his parents. I knew it would be enough to get into college.only thing they do is study. One of the things that you couldn’t choose was where in the U. I never really studied a lot. Well.S. in a community college. They made him do extra community work. I got good grades and everything that goes with that. She liked me very much. But Columbia doesn’t usually give 57 .. so I applied to Columbia University in New York. “I really don’t need A.” which meant B. which was not all that good. I wanted to continue my studies at one of the best schools in the U. I came on a program that used to bring students from Bosnia who weren’t able to continue their studies because of the war. They never skipped classes and stuff. and I was one of them. which is a very good school and very hard to get in if you’re not from North Carolina. and it was really hard to get an A in that school. you would go and what school you would attend. “I will be a very good student. I ended up in North Carolina. and then through her. This is where my father would come and ask. “Why not A?” And I said. So. I met other people.
I never liked investment. I always like a real challenge. I could get a job in some ﬁrm or organization like National Democratic Institute or United Nations that has close ties to the part of the world where I come from. But now that’s over. talking to the right person. You know. there is a crisis in the investment sector now. for whatever cause. I’m going to use that down the road. and never understood anything. I’m waiting for that chance. You can see I’m picky. I have no idea where my interest in investment comes from. And since I don’t have the experience. because they already have the experience and everything. I was in the 58 . because I would be considered an expert for that region. I had excellent grades. never liked business. where I will learn how to get money. I’m not going to settle for those jobs that are available. They don’t really care about the Balkans. and Columbia also gave me money. But no. So I tapped the resources that I’d built throughout my North Carolina career. I just ﬁnished my masters in International Affairs at Columbia. Now I am looking forward to earning my own money. I entered university back in Bosnia graduating from high school. Not for myself. I need to be lucky and I need to be at the right place at the right time. It’s not even on their map. I am interested in these hardcore investment banks. I never liked economics. So it all worked out well. That’s all they want to know.money for the ﬁrst year of study. My dream job is—I still haven’t ﬁgured that out. I wanted to be a mechanical engineer and in ‘91. A lot of people lost jobs. a lot of people who lost jobs are the ﬁrst ones who are going to get them. But the best job for me now is to work at an investment company. they just want to know if I could make money for them. When I have interviews with these people. but for a project. I was very good. And when opportunities come. I want to learn how to make a proﬁt.
listened to music. There were explosions all the time. But people just didn’t have it anymore. Then we said to each other. let’s not pass that house. by the way. In the bar we played pool. because there was too much stuff going on. You don’t create information. During the war I did media. The university burned down. you need to know where to go for information. It was in ‘94. but we did not bother much. they say. And I never went back to Mechanical Engineering. nobody cared. One time my friends and I wanted to go and play table tennis. But I couldn’t ﬁnd scientiﬁc evidence. It means he is in denial or something. One psychiatrist guy was telling me that eighty percent of the city’s population was neurotic and sixty percent psychotic at that time. 59 .top ten among 600 students. but we continued walking. this story didn’t work out. So. And then the war came. And then we saw people carrying dead bodies out of the house. Then we saw the house about twenty meters away from us that had been hit. “Uh. You have to have a human reaction to that. I wanted to make more serious attempts to explain it. This is what happened to me. Since I couldn’t ﬁnd enough information. Nobody discussed what happened.” We just turned and went to a bar. As a journalist. There was still smoke coming out. We had just stopped and looked from the distance what was going on. I worked for a couple of radio stations and I wrote for a magazine. That’s when I realized that something was wrong. We laughed. This was not the way it should be. nobody was upset. Once I tried to do an article on how everybody was crazy in Sarajevo. ping-pong. This one was near. You can’t call a person normal if he sees a dead body in front of him and then goes to play pool as if nothing had happened. On the way to the gym we heard this huge explosion. let’s go another way.
Yeah. I saw the UN Plaza that I had seen before on the news.S. And I said.” Since I grew up on the street playing on the pavement. Well. I was confused. I prefer 60 . Very soon I realized that media in the U. honestly. Manhattan with its concrete.When I went out of there. Columbia was ﬁne. and I graduated in journalism and mass communication and advertising. I emerged from Queens in a car across the Queens Borough Bridge. And that’s where I ﬁrst got introduced to it. as I mentioned. I don’t know why. and started thinking about it. When I came to Columbia University. because I also like the city. I ended up at the University of North Carolina. My ﬁrst impression was that it wasn’t New York City the way I had imagined it to be. that’s it. If everything is kind of there for me within my house. tall buildings. and there were all foreigners there. I just took business and ﬁnance. having enthusiasm and stuff. to the School of International Affairs. and I wanted to see the skyscrapers. has less to do with being creative. I’m not a big nature person. I mean. but there were only ﬂat buildings. That the university was in New York was even better. Just don’t let me get back together with the animals and the whole thing. rather than in the countryside. there I got my ﬁrst insights into business. I had visited New York before I came here to study. but I like a paved path to go through it all. since we had a couple of teachers in marketing who were really business oriented. “Ok. I wanted to do media and communications as major concentration. It has more to do with business. Later I found out that it was the immigrant community in Astoria. Also. I went to Manhattan after this. but then I changed my mind. I like nature. the city appealed to me immediately. I am an urban product! I can’t cook and I don’t want to go out to eat a lot. because I was in Queens. nobody spoke English in the streets.
We talked about his childhood in Mostar. He is still searching for his identity. and I thought it was really interesting. it didn’t look right. In addition. Don Cuneo. So. A lot of people. Maybe we can be serious friends.” The next day a guy came and painted it. the constellation. how are you doing? What’s up? How’s school?” But very few of them I would actually go out with. was very kind. It was like a bus. who left their homes 61 . My ﬁrst friend was by coincidence from Herzegovina. There is something about him that I liked. It’s strange. I was wondering how I was going to do everything. So. or discuss serious topics with. the way everything was set up. and there was a little space in between. Once I bought my carpets and could walk barefoot. “Oh. The desk was on the left. the bed was on the right. Maybe we already are. a TV-room and so on. It took me a while to make my ﬁrst friend here. Plus. I spent time with him. a laundry room. the interior. I decided on I-House. I didn’t know about this. He would say things that no American would say. I didn’t pay attention to aesthetics too much anymore. and he came straight to the United States. I remember the paint on the door was just awful. I thought it was very small. and when he took me to my room and saw the mess. International House looked like the really perfect place for me. So he’s like this Herzogovinian-Bosnian kid with American habits. since it has its own facilities like the dining hall. I really like it. it offers the opportunity of meeting a lot of people from different countries. he said.that. I have to spend a lot of time with somebody before I call him or her a friend. But then he knows all the American TV shows. I know a lot of people and I say. When I entered my room for the ﬁrst time. He left his hometown at the beginning of the war when he was very young. we’ll get this ﬁxed. the president of the house. But he left just like several days ago for California. I-House is about something else I think. So. “Hey.
there, have this longing. They can’t even explain it; when they start talking about where they come from, or when they hear music or something from back home they get really, really emotional. He is one of them. But most of the people from my country didn’t integrate as much as he did, like the people who live in Astoria, a neighborhood in New York City. They all hang out together, the whole community. I just don’t understand people who have lived here for ten years or even longer, and don’t have a single American friend. I think that’s ridiculous. They stick to each other and their thinking is too narrow. In Bosnia we would say, “They’re neither in heaven nor on the ground.” Like the music that they really heat up to, is the music from back home, but it’s music that nobody even at home listens to any more. That’s already gone, so they’re disconnected at home, and then here they’re disconnected as well. They are nowhere. It’s always as if they live in a world that doesn’t exist. I went to a party there, and ninety percent of the people were Bosnian. I came with an American friend and people asked me, “Well, don’t you hang out with our people?” I said, “No, I only know a Bosnian couple, but I don’t really like them.” They looked at me like I was a rare animal, because I had American friends and American girlfriends. They said, “Oh, how can you do that?” I think you need to choose people for what they are, not where they come from. And I-House is a perfect place to do so. We have a lot of Americans here, and I have learned that you cannot generalize Americans. An American from North Carolina would have the same cultural shock to New York City that I had. When I lived in North Carolina for ﬁve years, people would often ask me, “Have you been to New York City?” I would say, “Yeah, several times.” They would exclaim, “Oh, my God. I’ve never been there.”
But I would tell them, “What are you waiting for? It’s very near. It’s easy to get there.” But they had this vision of New York as this violent, dirty place with rude people, and I told them: “Come on, it’s cleaner than you think; it’s more fun than you think. And people are not rude at all. They just don’t smile at you every time they see you. You can’t smile at millions of people.” Americans act differently, and they look different. Their country is obviously a continent. Where I come from, there is a stereotype that Americans are stupid, because they don’t really know anything outside America. You can sense this when you meet some Americans for the ﬁrst time. So I’d say, “I’m from Bosnia.” And they’re like, “Where is Bosnia?” And I’m like, “Well, it’s in southeast Europe near ex-Yugoslavia.” Then they’d ask, “Is that in Russia?” But why do they have to know where Bosnia is? Who cares? A long time ago I dropped this notion of them being stupid. People don’t know things that they’re not interested in, and that’s it. Then I thought, “Well how come every other Nobel Prize winner is from the United States of America? Can they really be that stupid?” And so I learned that this is a pretty amazing place. I like Americans, and this is a very rare thing you’re going to hear from a Bosnian who lives here. But for me it’s just that you can ﬁnd good people wherever you go, and especially in International House. Just last night I went to a ﬂoor party. Here everyone thinks that the more people in a party the better it is. They always say, “Bring friends, doesn’t matter.” It’s not very formal, and I like that. You just go, and you say “Hi.” Last night, it became really interesting at the end. There were maybe six of us left. A cute girl started a discussion on freaky things like spontaneous combustion. This girl on her door has a picture of a woman who was sitting in her chair
in the living room. The chair is intact, but everything else is ash, just burned. Scientiﬁcally, it shouldn’t be possible, because for a human body to burn to ash, it needs a very high temperature, a few thousand degrees. And it’s impossible to do that with a wooden chair underneath the body, untouched. But it really happened. It’s a certain chemical combination, where a lot of oxygen and certain things turn. Some people may have a tendency to do this little reaction in their bodies, it’s always sudden. That’s how we started the discussion. And then people went off about car accidents and so on. It was dark, but funny. When I was little, I was attracted to these things, mysteries of the world, stuff like pyramids, Bermuda Triangle and so on. Ghosts? I don’t know about ghosts. I’ve never met one. But I called one. You know when kids get around a table and they call ghosts. We did it once on a trip. Apparently, no kid ever wants to do it in his or her own house, it seems to be too dangerous. So, you do it at somebody else’s place. At that trip, there were ﬁve of us in a hotel room gathering. We held hands and then we called a ghost saying, “Please come.” We made certain arrangements of letters on the table. Then we took a small light object such as a cork from a bottle, and everybody touched it a little bit. After that, somebody asked a question. Then we left the cork alone and waited. I know for certain that nobody touched that cork after the question was asked, but it moved! I saw it! I don’t know what to believe, but it was really interesting. These things happen all the time. There’s a house in eastern Bosnia. During the war, military forces were involved in what they called ‘ethnic cleansing.’ They took a lot of families, put them into this house and burned the house with all the people in it. They
“Why do people in West Europe have better lives than we do?” And she said. this is the way it is. Later. If somebody said. “Ok. it was up to me. Now. And he’s a factory worker. My parents always told me to fear God. you have to go to the mosque. and he viewed himself as Almighty. The owners of the house were also burned. I asked my teacher. you can’t explain everything. Some families moved into it.” And I thought.burned them all alive. However.” There was a conﬂict. because it was in a really good spot and it was a big house. For example. when housing is really a huge issue in Bosnia. no. “No. they do. And this is happening in the present time. people claim to hear voices out of this house. So. “Whom do you like more? Tito or God?” Tito was the leader of Yugoslavia at that time.” And I said to her: “Yes. But you see. no. His pictures were all over and we were 65 . people there are exploited. They would ask me a tricky question. I remember I was really little. I’ll take her answer. “No. But for some reason I have always questioned. My neighbor had a visitor from West Germany. and my family was gathering together with neighbors. It’s very hard to get an apartment or a house. This was ’92. But they all died in the last couple of years. I grew up in a religious family. in an unreligious society. my parents never pushed me into either one. I have always asked myself “Why?” I grew up in communism. but I don’t believe in her answer. in sixth grade we were doing West Europe in geography. and he was driving a red Mercedes. the international community repaired the house. but they never told me you had to pray. Why doesn’t my family have a red Mercedes?” She said. they don’t. Nobody wants to live there anymore or to buy the house or even get near it. There are certain ways of thinking that are encouraged and certain ways of thinking that are not.
very few people practiced. You almost give your life up for God. I had to answer the question. They are from before the communist period. Only God is your pleasure. When I was little and spending time with my grandparents. You pray ﬁve times a day. So after a while I could pray. “I would take God because he created Tito. That is such a contradiction! My grandparents were the only ones pushing religious 66 . It was about the ﬁghts of partisans against Nazis in the occupation of Belgrade during World War II. And I only did it to watch the communist show. because you’re not supposed to give answers in favor of religion. if I learnt a prayer every night. You have a certain diet. The action was really good. because I knew almost every prayer. But I answered in a way that showed that Tito is the man. better than ninety percent of the Muslims in Bosnia.” There was silence. It’s like becoming a monk. it is very hard to practice. and I said. The only people I know who did it under Tito and are still doing it are my grandparents.not allowed to say anything negative about him. Very few people could have stopped work to celebrate those twenty-minute prayers. Since we grew up in very secular surroundings and with communism. But I really wanted to watch a series. they did not have television in their house. I was about ﬁve years old. because thank God we have Tito. and as a Muslim. It had these action heroes like the underground supermen ﬁghting the enemy. So it was a very political answer. I was ready to do anything to watch the television series. You don’t drink alcohol. produced by communists. They are Muslims. I loved it like all kids and that’s why I just had to watch it. My parents were not practicing religion. There was only one television in the small village of about seven houses. and it belonged to another couple. My grandfather told me that I could watch it and he said that he would carry me to the other house. nobody knew how to respond to my answer.
What is it—it’s so huge. I met her ﬁrst in her hometown. She would say: “There was this guy who built a big ship. But she didn’t say it was Noah’s Ark.stuff into me. and she is a Croat from Croatia. I was basically without money. I went to Zagreb looking for things to do. and I learnt it. It was still my choice. and so I don’t even know whether I have a God or not. I learned it just by spoken word. they have a place in this world. and he put them on his ship. I was like a refugee. So he took a couple of every kind of animal. but they weren’t very aggressive. I was there when I was leaving the country to escape the war. There was a little rat and it made a hole in the ship. I haven’t found a deﬁnition yet. without prospects and without papers. And religion doesn’t make it easier. or whatever. But since then I have forgotten almost everything. A she. Though they could not write or read.” It was really interesting. I have questions about space.” That was the ﬁrst time I had ever heard that snakes were of any good. 67 . It was interesting how they did it. and the ship went into water. and I have never prayed again. I’d love to have someone to answer my questions. a he. Grandma told me. because there was a ﬂood and everybody was going to die. Not for me. My grandmother told me stories about Noah’s Ark. But she failed to tell me that these were all religious stories. It was positive reinforcement. Maybe I would be more into religion if she had told me. “Just stay away from them. and the water started coming in. they still knew these very complicated and long prayers in a foreign language. and my mind gets warped. I don’t know what God is. What’s our position as human beings relative to all that space? It’s sort of philosophical. because though they are dangerous. My girlfriend is Catholic. Kids learn fast. My grandfather repeated it to me three times. The prayers are in Arabic and my grandparents were illiterate. but then a snake covered the hole with its body.
ambitious and skinny. It’s about raising kids. She has something that drives her. for improvement in her life. It has taken us two years. Since then. My partner and I. it builds your ego. gives signals. we’ll see what happens next. It’s a good thing to do.” Then when we reach an agreement. and though it may last for a long time. when a girl is all over you and she says YES to everything you say. She is looking for things. But we got together only much later. having a uniﬁed family and building an identity around that family and stuff. We communicate every day on the phone or on the Internet. out of every year that I was in the U. but she is coming to New York soon to stay here and study. but it is hard when the person’s not there. we both have to give something up and make a compromise. But we visit each other a lot. She should be smart. That’s when it’s worth it. because you work on something together. That is really nice. because I don’t see other reasons why people would get married. you suck. The other person considers. So. You know. Now. That’s it. Maybe adopt one. It’s just how people get together. I think I’ve already found my ideal wife. She’s not just being there and being cute. we have to argue about things. in the end. One person is interested. I’d like to have two or three children.S. And my girlfriend has it all. We are also looking forward to changing our situation. I would spend several months at home. Yeah. because I think people should adopt 68 . it is so hard to keep in contact. She’s independent. and she was there. there’s nothing to that. I’ll get married. “Ok. You feel energy and you get together.Somehow I met a group of young people who I hung out with a lot. It happened on one of those trips. we can live happily ever after until God separates us? No! I think marriage makes sense only with kids. She has to stand up and say. This is not the way it’s supposed to be.
but then everything was interrupted. It’s got to be something with buildings: investing. I feel that there’s more to be 69 . it’s positive. even though I don’t think it is. They all got married when they were very young. Ideally.children and not only cats. I mean. But honestly. Then I’d go back home through a foreign company. since they are not into the western trends. because she’s of a different religion and a different background. where I can learn a lot and also earn some money. I don’t think about my wedding very often. My father is a party animal. deconstructing. I want to stay here in New York for two more years and then go back home. or even better yesterday. He would invite all his friends and all the family. How to do the wedding ceremony is a very delicate question. and he would dance all night long. They really want to see me married. all in their early twenties. including my sister. because my parents want me to get married now. So when I think about my wedding. But that way my father would lose his grounding. as the bride. constructing. So I know he would take over the wedding. Before the war I wanted to graduate in Bosnia. He would bring the music that he would want. it’s in these terms. it makes most sense to think about her. and start something on my own. Also. I would stay here with a very good company. I want to go back to Bosnia because I feel like I have unﬁnished business there. They are convinced it’s about time that I get married. I think the perfect way would be to have a wedding outside my country and have all the close family and friends come out to the wedding. But I’m trying to think of how to have a wedding where he won’t bring those people whom I don’t want to see. since I have known my girlfriend for a long time.
because the ﬁrst time I left it wasn’t really that I wanted to leave my home. 70 . I want to try to settle and see if it works.done for me. If it doesn’t work. my family’s there. So. I will take off again. And in addition. But I want to give it a try at least.
but very little solidity. That is why they gave me a special third name. So they searched for a Chinese character that would either supplement or counteract some of the elements of my personality.” I thought. and he made me wait. Yeah.CHAPTER 5 Ying—Taiwan: Life Can Be So Sweet I’m the ﬁrst child of my generation. It has the right number of strokes. I’ve done so many different things during my life. and is he going to sit next to me?” 71 . The wood radical is very important for the tree and therefore for me. They found that I would have many talents. that’s for sure. he turned around and said. and birth time. But my mother now wants me to be a businesswoman making millions of dollars. and there was this man trying to put his luggage above. Soon. “Oh God! He is French and he is so cute. It was on a plane going from Tokyo to Paris. it didn’t look very good. and right now I am going through a very confusing period. It means birch tree. I remember the exact moment when I met him for the ﬁrst time. “Pardon. I’m going to ﬁnish my studies at the Julliard School of Music. so it does not easily surrender to bad times. Specifically. I want to be a good musician. we are trying very hard to come together. because it should ground me. After ﬁnishing. A birch tree is white and skinny and ﬂexible. they tried to calculate what my characteristics would be for the rest of my life. in terms of marriage and settlement. birthplace. According to my birth date. the more I agree with my name. The aisle was narrow as usual. and my boyfriend and me. The more I think of this. and when my parents tried to pick my name they went to an astrologer.
I chose Provence—still the ax murderer in mind—as a compromise. where my grandparents are living. In Paris. but I had a bad impression of French men when I was in Columbia University. We spoke a little bit about the violin and things like that. and I told myself that I was not going to believe this very good looking guy. “Does your visa allow you to go to Amsterdam?” And I replied. the plan is to go to Amsterdam or to Provence. and only then HE started talking to me. so I didn’t have time to go home and really think about it. because it was really cold and I was living in an unfriendly neighborhood.” You know. I was unhappy and alone. this guy could be an ax murderer. at least I 72 . “Okay. He was so friendly. He asked me. “Well. “Oh my God. and maybe we could meet. and he said. and said he would contact me. sure. He came on Friday night and we went to a nice café. It was their ﬁrst date. We didn’t talk about Amsterdam until long after midnight.” Either way we had to leave the next morning.” He was so very nice and gentle! On my left hand side sat a Japanese businessman who asked for whiskey and vodka immediately after he arrived. and they’re married now! It was the ﬁrst good evening I’d had in Paris until then. We talked about Tokyo in Japanese until he fell asleep. When we ﬁnally ﬁnished dinner. who was just meeting a girl. I thought. I had a pretty hard time.” That was the thought that dominated my thinking the whole time—the guy with this beautiful smile turning into a serial killer. he called me and said that he was coming to Paris. Before we arrived in Paris. yeah. and there we met with his friend. in case there was some problem. he took my address and telephone number of the place I would stay at for a month. I was like. but the seat between us was empty. “Well. he said. people say things like that and nothing ever happens.He sat two seats away from me. I was 19. “What?” I just couldn’t imagine that. you can put your violin there. One Thursday.
” Because I never really had a family life like that. I sensed that he didn’t want to leave. “Okay. because normally I would be the one still talking and he would tell me. because I didn’t want to feel so close to him. and I told my closest friend. and it was getting late. I had never had a boyfriend earlier. and my host family would know how to ﬁnd me. When he went back to France. when I almost couldn’t handle it anymore. besides being love at ﬁrst sight. and I 73 . For me. because I enjoyed it so much and then he would always leave. I started dragging my friends along every time he would come.” He was working for an export company and traveling a lot. We met only twice. But he was not in love with me. but this was it for about a year. It was two years later or so that one night. so it was very strange sensing something from him. he wrote to me and said that he felt something different growing between us. Every time I saw him. Finally. were joking all the time. I have to go to the hotel. I was with him and all my other friends. and we had such a nice weekend! His grandparents are about 80. and he almost got pushed into a cab. in a bar. I liked this guy so much because he was open and took care of me in everything. Saturday morning we left for Provence. and they called me “the little Chinese girl. He came to New York and we met again. I wrote him a very nice letter after this weekend—I couldn’t help it—but he just said. “I think he is ﬂirting with me.” I didn’t know what to do at all. His grandparents.would be in France. So the whole weekend through I was just smiling. “I’ll call you when I come to New York. it was amazing for me to see how everybody was getting along so well.” I asked my friend to tell him it was time to leave. and it was terrible that I had this huge crush on him. it became more painful. I was going crazy about this man. I was a good friend to him. who had never left each other’s side for even one day since they had been married.
Yes. We went there by whatever local transport was available. They didn’t have any hotels and we 74 . they still have traveling artists that would really be the transmitters of culture and news. a very good friend of mine came to me and said. but it tasted very good. He loves theatre and music. They had a lot of dry ﬁsh. it’s not a joke. We ate local food. the conductor and my teacher. Now it’s going to be our fourth year that he is working in Paris and I’m studying in New York. They have been hiding there ever since. it would look green and black and scary. there is a reason why we are together.was just so scared.” I went outside and saw HIM there. That’s when things started between us. For instance. so I was playing as a soloist with an orchestra. We had rice and occasionally chicken. So. He is such an incredible creature. It was really scary sometimes. we really did it! We hiked for two weeks because there is nothing there. It is a tribe that escaped from the Muslims and ran to this very secluded site 300 years ago. no streets. He wrote the script and then we went to Mali. and they live in a huge expanse of cliffs. and they made all kinds of sauces from leaves. no running water and no electricity. in the country of Mali in Africa there is a tribe called the Dogon. “There is a reporter from the New York Times who wants to speak with you. So he had this idea of us as a French storyteller and a Chinese violinist who travel to this tribe in their little villages. I was so very happy. to tell them stories from Europe and Asia. jeeps. and a lot of times he gives me such original ideas that really impress me. and I was so happy to see him in front of everybody. The next time we met was when I won a competition at Columbia. and I liked that very much. My boyfriend was fascinated because their tradition is very much alive. and they would make everything by hand. little boats. After the concert.
so in a simple way. we put on a show. They said. because he wanted me to play something that sounded like an animal. I didn’t really know what happened.would sleep in peoples’ houses. and the kids started dancing. When we were ﬁnishing the show. all made of earth. and I’d have to save him by kissing him. too. and I’d play an obvious thing by Mozart with a very big ending. He would die at one point. but I was very busy with my violin. Then he would be very happy. “Can you play a little more?” And we played more. some Romanian dances. and usually arrive around sunset. But sometimes the audience would not understand that it was the end. He told his stories in French. It’s terrible. bringing with them their parents and family. and he had a story with every piece of music. “Oh. It was just so cool! 75 . we have something to show to you. like neon lights and military sticks that have different colors. We were going from village to village with an interpreter. Once. When there were enough people. maybe they translated amongst each other. since we weren’t sure how they were going to respond. a guy raised his hand and asked. it would change the space into a stage. I played pieces from Bartok. and a piece that sounded like a bumble bee. The adults would be coming back from working in the ﬁelds and it would be the children who came to us ﬁrst. “Is it over?” And we looked at him and didn’t know what to do. that’s the worst on stage! Another time someone asked. because they participated with. My boyfriend had brought a piece of fabric that he would lay on the ﬂoor. Not many people understood.” They brought out their instruments and they sang their songs. I’m telling you. we wanted to make it very obvious for the audience. and this was fascinating to the people there. It was such a nice atmosphere. Mozart and Bach. so we did a grand ﬁnale. He brought different kinds of ﬂashlights.
I was ﬁve. He gave me a lot of extra lessons. After I studied with him for about six months. My brothers were two and one. We had a big piano in the house and I remember her chasing me. Music has always been a part of my life. I didn’t want to go there. Yeah. he is supposed to be very good at training children. I hated the violin because it makes your arms so sore. and it would hurt your neck and hurt your ﬁngers. I was only three years old and they didn’t allow children that were three. but I have a picture of it. I didn’t like the violin at all. so they couldn’t go. I started playing the piano ﬁrst. I was really young. and she would listen to me with a stick in her hand. because we were playing games all the time. The other trick that I had was this: I would lock the door and then practice with one hand and hold a book with the other hand. he is the father of the very famous cellist. But my mother said that I was ﬁve to get me in. I was the only one starting so early. I would read because I love reading so 76 . It’s just painful. and since his son is so successful. and I always wanted to share it. He trained Yo Yo Ma when he was very young. I don’t remember much. I don’t think I told my mother. and every Sunday I had to get up at four in the morning and take a taxi with my mother to go up these mountains. It was a group lesson and it was so much fun. You have to put your arm in this unnatural position for an hour. Yo Yo Ma’s father was my ﬁrst teacher of the violin. I played a solo. He is a severe man and I was really afraid of him. because I didn’t have much choice. I thought I didn’t practice enough to see this man. a Mozart piece. He lived in the mountains. She told me I had to practice. but I would hide under the piano. We used to ﬁght. I would be so scared.This trip to Mali gave me a different concept of playing for people. I was small and she could not get in there. I was already playing a concert with the children’s orchestra.
I told my teacher. He has ﬁve brothers and sisters. even though he was in such a high position and had a lot of money. Well. He had very crazy hair. My mother was looking shy. and every time my mother knocked. since I was her ﬁrst child and she was very. At that time. because my father is also the ﬁrst child of his generation. so I turned around and saw him hugging my mother. To me he was so exotic because he was always touring with his orchestra throughout the world. and he would hold me and kiss me. and I was his favorite student. His family is extremely. and still is. Once I was playing a piece that was very difﬁcult. and I didn’t hear any response. he brought me candy. She was such an energetic mother! I know that she had a very hard time carrying me. and he was so shocked! My mother plays a little piano. One was. He had his hand on her waist. and he’s a very western style man. and it’s a very important tradition in a Taiwanese family that he had to be the ﬁrst one to get married. a conductor of the Taipei Philharmonic. very busy. and she loves music. His house. I was too young to understand. I’d hold it against the wall. and I liked that a lot. I was around eight. I got the sense of being very free with my ﬁngers. my mother was going out with my future stepfather. so I didn’t have to press with my neck or hand. He is an important man. extremely traditional. He was trained in Germany in Munich. I had two violin teachers that I liked very much. I’d throw the book under the bed. there is a cultural connection here. and because she was the ﬁrst 77 . Chinese people don’t normally do that. When she got married again. was just a mess! He was also very liberal. I always remember the books under the bed.much. When I started studying with him. the whole point was to get me to relax. When I was playing the violin. I wonder if my mother ever found out. Every time he went somewhere. So my mother married into his family.
if a check you write bounces. She really loved this job. because the women didn’t have any means to survive. That’s why she tricked the system and wrote something that my father thought was not a legal document. to the father. but she did not want to lose the custody of her children. She wanted the divorce. I don’t know how my parents met. In those days in Taiwan. but there was a tradition of abusing the daughter-in-law. and my mother felt responsible and wanted to be the good daughter-in-law. Even when she was pregnant. because in Taiwan. and she made it appear legal. Some of the things she did were a little unconventional. she wouldn’t tell me. but she quit after she got married. I only learned the details of this story this summer when I met him. Everybody thought it was normal. He was running from the police and he was homeless for two years. Well.daughter-in-law. which was normal in those days. and my father’s family has been in the radio station business for a long time. and doing dishes and cleaning the whole house. she would get up at ﬁve and go to the market. and he got into different businesses and failed. When my mother got the divorce from him. I think maybe through friends. and often she used to faint because she didn’t get enough sleep. because my mother was working as an announcer at a radio station. Now I think he had a really hard 78 . children included. her mother-in-law was very demanding. Everyday she would be cooking for ten people. She divorced my father when I was eight. My father did medical studies that are considered to be very prestigious. It’s better now in Taiwan. you become a criminal. if you got divorced. and I’m very annoyed. He should have made a lot of money. he was on the run from the law. the court automatically would give the properties. She is really a strong woman and extremely beautiful. but he didn’t do very well at all.
I just knew my father disappeared. She would really treasure beautiful clothes. but my mother made everything seem so normal. and she carried with her a baby that was a product of the war between communists and nationalists. Her father died when she was very young. because he couldn’t do anything to get us back. they would look at me like as if I was from out of space. He was the enemy. She wouldn’t have nice clothes. but it did not stop her. and I hated him so much. When she got divorced. One of my mother’s brothers didn’t do well in school and started getting involved with gangsters. they are a little better off. They had meat once a year. she bought nice stuff. Her mother had a bad temper and she would beat the kids. Maybe it’s because she has always had a hard life. when I’d tell people that my mother was divorced. she lost her apartment. and I’d say that he was on a business trip or something. It was very hard for her to survive. So they were really poor. For many years I did not want to know. My mother’s mother came to Taiwan on a boat. After the divorce. on New Year’s Day. which was considered normal. and her mother had to raise four children on her own. so when she started to work. They arrived in Taiwan and they had nothing to begin with. People would ask me. but from what I hear it was very hard. The earliest house I remember was from before the 79 . At school. My mother told me that she felt all the pain that her mother went through. Now. My mother would remember that as such a special time. many times.time. Once my mother had to go to the police station and get him out. She was in a group of people who escaped China when the communists took over. I don’t think they had enough to eat. and since then we have moved many. Something like that would come out in the newspaper. She has this drive that’s just incredible.
as if nobody else knew what was going on. In Taiwan we have a lot of earthquakes. We moved around so much. So I ran to the garage. I remember that opposite our house. People would come in rafts. It was really nice. There are so many things that happen in Taiwan! There are tornadoes and floods. I remember one. because we would destroy the paint. you know. but my poor mother had to pay so much money. and I’d tell them. so we were shifted to the second ﬂoor. Once our basement was completely ﬂooded.” So. and everybody was looking around and saying. and it was so narrow that we could use our hands and feet to climb up. “The whole house is shaking!” I remember seeing the ground shifting over. and they would be boating in the streets. and we didn’t have time to take it out before the water came. because they didn’t think it was too dangerous.divorce. “This is very important. We would write down special things on it. I was so excited immediately when it happened and I wanted to tell everybody. With the spider style we went to the top and wrote things on the ceiling. don’t you forget all these things! You need to write them down. because a lot of her pictures and souvenirs—the things you cannot get back—were stored down in the basement. when my parents lived together. My mother was very sad. because it was part of the street and people knew us and would always come in to buy medicine. there was a garage where they ﬁxed cars. My parents didn’t say much. we would discuss this. we kept a log of each apartment that we lived in. To me it felt like a game. The apartment was upstairs and the pharmacy downstairs. The way my mother brought us up was very light and 80 . In an apartment there was this corridor. and we called this the spider style. I can still see it moving. and to me it was very fascinating. like if you’re in an amusement park and then there is something moving underneath you. and my brothers and me.
but otherwise. I cannot remember being forced to go to bed. There was no table. She didn’t have strict rules. Where we would eat. depended on the season. and we didn’t have strict times to eat. Since I was ﬁve. The top level was the apartment.easygoing. we’d all eat in the bedroom that had an air conditioner. and whoever got to sleep next to mother’s body got to be the most privileged. we had a huge container of preserved milk. Every morning we would open the trunk and get milk.” I was not very happy. My mother drove us to school. so we’d sit very close and eat there. It took me a while to call him ‘father’. It had two stories. We mostly had breakfast in the car. because Taiwan can be very hot and humid. we’d sit outside. but we all wanted to sleep as close to my mother as possible. We all ended up sleeping in her bed. We slept like this for many years. so for dinner we usually had rice and three or four different little things like ﬁsh and vegetables. and I was so proud of it. the most. if it was not so hot. three or four hours a day. and then I saw my mother coming. I was entering competitions already when 81 . In the trunk of the car. My mother is a very good cook. I really liked it. One day I woke up and I saw my stepfather coming out of my mother’s room. I had my own four roses. I liked the last apartment we stayed in before we came to the US. and we would drink it on the way to school. I practiced a lot on my violin. When it was hot. head to toe. We all had to sleep in different directions. but it was not big enough for four people. We were such a close family! We all wanted to monopolize our mother. because we were always late. so at night we wouldn’t want to sleep by ourselves. and we lived there with my stepfather. It was great. and the level below us was a TV-production company that my mother had with my stepfather. “I think you should call him Dad now. We had a little garden and I loved to plant. And my mother said to me.
it was such a hard piece and I was really focused.I was eleven. From the money I won at the competition. When I went back. After that. because my mother prepared me very well psychologically. The relationship between my mother and my stepfather was not going very well. When I was twelve. Every time we have something important like an exam or a competition. I never felt like a prodigy. so right when we had the winter break from school. because there were things going on in my family. I don’t remember so much being nervous. That’s what I did. but my stepfather did not want my mother to leave. I remember the competition season is around January. so the whole family had to travel there and stay in a hotel. My mother bought me a nice dress. and they were ﬁghting all the time. It was in the southern part of Taiwan. There was not much focus on me. I didn’t feel that I was any different. so I was just walking outside. I was in the bathroom. to continue my studies. 82 . It was always more like a business to me. we bought my violin. I heard my name and I thought. and practice. and then I heard they were announcing something in the loud speakers. It is a Hungarian violin and more than a hundred years old. and she says.” I played very well at the competition. I don’t remember us celebrating. I didn’t know what to do anymore. My mother wanted to take me to the U. because there were like ten more people playing.S. which was very difﬁcult. “What about those people that lost?” That’s what I remember. “If you drink this tea. She organized the visa. and my stepfather was just getting insanely jealous and insecure. she makes this tea that has special herbs in it and very mysterious little red balls. I would do nothing else but sit in my room with my mother with the stick in her hand. I had to face the last round of a nationwide competition for young musicians. you would be smarter. simply going crazy. and I was supposed to do it well.
We entered the U. They didn’t ask anything and they just let us through. I ran out there and started crying.S. with a tour group.S. and she didn’t know what to do at all. was going to accept them.S. So I said.S. We were a little afraid of the immigration staff. My mother asked me to speak English to the people at the immigration control and to look friendly. It was so cool! I also liked the shows like ‘The Little Mermaid’. and she kicked us out. but I couldn’t speak much at all. before we would settle.. brothers and I came to the U.S.S. my mother and my brothers weren’t sure if the U. We went on a big time vacation. I was afraid of the space mountain because it was very dark. but I loved the rides that were outside. since I had an invitation to perform and study in the U. My mother was very sad. because I studied English intensively for three months before we came.One night I was already asleep and they were screaming. It went really smoothly.. So we went to New Jersey to my mother’s friend’s friend 83 . and I really loved ‘Cinderella.! In Taiwan you could only imagine seeing all those fairy tales. We were afraid of being sent back before we could enter. because even though I had the proper papers to come here.S. I woke up. “Hi. because my mother wanted us to see different parts of the U. my mother’s teacher and my mother’s friends’ friend. but after a short time his wife suspected that he was in love with my mother. because I didn’t know how to tell them to stop. I was the only person who could speak English in my family. and we went to Disney Land. My mother. We had two acquaintances in the U. how are you?” I was twelve.’ That was the U. and they were at the balcony and they were each threatening to jump off the building. in Honolulu. in Hawaii. First we went to my mother’s teacher in Philadelphia. They looked at me and they didn’t jump.
We lived in this terrible house for about six months. They rented us a house. and then we moved in the apartment of the Chinese student. and I would just follow everybody. yeah. because they ﬁgured we had money. It was a poor neighborhood. Then my mother met a Chinese student and he fell in love with her. simple stuff like going shopping was a big challenge. because we would gather every cup we could ﬁnd to collect the water. So I received my ﬁrst communion during my ﬁrst days in America. and the students would say prayers and do things with their hands I had never seen in my life! Then the teacher showed me how to pray. It was really dramatic. but she knew she had to save it for later. and we had to sleep in one bed again to stay warm. and I didn’t know how much I was supposed to drink. My mother didn’t know anything about it. They were real estate brokers and wanted us to buy a house from them. We didn’t know anything or anybody and we were so cold all the time. so they told us we shouldn’t go to the public schools. I remember the ﬁrst day of school. they were really not nice and tried to put us in a very harsh situation. In the beginning. and I didn’t understand what it was. and it was leaking everywhere. and I didn’t know what the hell was in it. but can you imagine what it must have been for my mother to live in a house like this? In the winter there was no heat. My mother had brought all her money to the U. It was completely broken down. But the biggest challenge was to take me to the violin 84 .S. Later we would go to a mass. But the school was really bad. That was nice of him. I hardly spoke English. and therefore I went to a catholic school. I was so scared. I don’t know if I even tried to explain to her. There was this cup. She had enough to deal with her daily life. For us kids it was fun..we had never met before.
In pre-college it was terrible. But the trafﬁc was so bad and the highways were scary. I just felt completely alone. I was very proud. I thought it must be because of money. and if my teacher had asked me to buy a book in a special store. I really don’t like Julliard as a school even to this day. but she had to pass the written test. and I’d be scared not knowing what was coming next. My mother had to learn how to drive. although it should have taken only half of that time. and my mother was there in the kitchen. “How was school?” When I came into my room. I saw that some of my 85 . Someone told me that my stepfather had come and taken her. So she studied hard and passed it the ﬁrst time. I came home from school and my mother had disappeared. Really funny was that every time my mother and I came to New York. My mother would drive me to my lessons every Saturday.lessons in New York. and we ended up having a Toyota Camry. The Chinese student guy. pretending they were practicing. and it took us more than an hour to get there. One day. and my mother drove slowly. we bought a car right away. and I’d be looking at the map and tell her which way to go. The Julliard School is off the Lincoln Tunnel from the 42nd Street exit. Since she was able to drive. we ﬁrst had to go back to my school before driving home. I really didn’t like being in the children’s orchestra. She just disappeared for two days. although it is a very. Otherwise we wouldn’t have found our way back to New Jersey. because the kids were extremely competitive and would show off in a very childish way. She was smiling and asked me. She didn’t know English. By the third day I came back from school. he helped us. She wore sunglasses and had a bruise on her face. and we were so worried and didn’t know what to do. During the breaks they would play the hardest pieces. very prestigious school.
I was so afraid my mother could have a heart attack.” I didn’t understand the word ‘custody. I cannot come to America every time. After that. I couldn’t speak English well enough. because he was being so abusive to my mother. my mother said to us. we ran out of money. I tried to talk to God like. I’ll give it to you. Only when I was really desperate. but please make my mother happier!” With my boyfriend it was the ﬁrst time I felt that life 86 . My mother contacted my father via phone and asked him to help out. “Do they have any children. if you disobey your mother. but I knew the word ‘lawyer’ and I found the word ‘divorce’ in a dictionary. Or I would kill myself. After ﬁve or six years in the U.’ so he explained it to me. “Whoever you are and whatever you want. and I called a lawyer. you don’t feel anything anymore. Flying out of a window would be cool. “No.S. At least. Finally.” Maybe she was afraid of him coming again and taking her back to Taiwan. So my ﬁrst thought was to become a prostitute. She wasn’t exactly telling me what was going on.. properties?” And I said. “You kids have to be good. and that’s when I understood the violence that had taken place. After that. I took my mother to the lawyer and there I explained to him what I knew. I was about 16. and I think she didn’t tell anybody but me.clothes were lying on the ﬂoor and some had cigarette holes in it. and he would realize how bad he is. but I would just hear her screaming. She would be all red and crying. and he asked me questions like. and there was no way I could hurt this guy or help my mother. and there was not even a guy I could turn to. I remember the shock. I got my mother divorced. I would make money and put my father to shame. So I remember looking in the Yellow Pages for lawyers. or dying in snow. She wanted to get a divorce as soon as possible.
“You can be just like her. but I don’t like to play for people who fall asleep. nothing is impossible.” I would like to have kids—right now I really don’t see it—but later I can imagine that. She is having a second baby now. For him. I’m not going to let you have my child. I don’t know exactly how to deﬁne my career. 87 . Last year I worked with different musicians of different traditions. Music is not as limited as words are. He has a cousin who is a conductor. but I’m trying hard to really carve out a path for my future. I’ve been composing on my own. I really want to bring music to every possible audience. I’ve been working a lot with new composers in Europe in the ﬁeld of electronic music. So. but I went to him and we spent three months together. and I prefer more intimate locations.” Last summer I was supposed to go to a music festival. Maybe one day I’ll play in Carnegie Hall. I would like to play with every possible combination. “If you don’t marry me. I can show so much passion and a different vision of the world. I really don’t understand how two people can stay together for 50 years and not get bored. Also. I know that I don’t want to limit myself as a violinist. But the idea of marriage doesn’t make any sense to me. and I can do so much with it. a Persian pianist and an Indian drummer. I just want to play anything that is interesting and available to me. in an orchestra or as a soloist.could be good and so sweet. I’m going to work in an organization in Harlem to teach violin to children. he said. Music is really a part of me now. like a Flamenco guitarist. and he said. But my boyfriend had a real rational argument.
but if they cross that line. the army reaches its hand. and I was a little bit spoiled in terms of cooking and cleaning. and some are on 88 . both mentally and physically. In basic training. Some people do break.CHAPTER 6 Alon—Israel: Everybody Likes Soldiers The army has a smell. neighbors. they may break your spirit. For me. And you’re alone. When you are 18 in Israel. your commanders try to physically and mentally take you far beyond what you thought were your limits. I was living only with my mother. You feel much stronger. It is not easy to leave your protected. pulls you out from everything that you are familiar with. the mental stress was the strongest. because there is no common language and no common denominator. It smells like oil that you clean your gun with. It also has a connotation of being away from home. Some even hurt or kill themselves. I was familiar with a certain layer of people living in our middle class neighborhood. you are in a platoon with a group of people you would not speak to on the street. And in that procedure there is a very thin line. your family. In the army. friends. your city and community— and puts you in a different place under hostile conditions. sheltered life in high school and become a soldier. then you improve fast. Suddenly you’re treated like shit. Some people are ignorant. It’s dusty green mixed with dusty gray. and uneducated. If your commanders work the way they’re supposed to work with you. And the army has a color. Some people use their sharp elbows and they step on you.
In the beginning. You have to trust them on matters of life and death. I took a three-minute shower. You’re not naive anymore and a little bit cynical. “You have seven minutes to be outside. After seven minutes. The ﬁrst week in basic training I screwed up. You have to do your bed in a very particular way and you have to clean the whole room. I thought it was enough time to do so. Things that looked really hard and crucial for you before look less dramatic. all of your gear and your gun. So. within a very short period of time. If you are like that. And you value important things much more: like the smell of your mother’s cooking or the feeling of sitting next to her on a couch. they’d come into the room and check beneath the ﬂoor lamps. And of course there is. But it wasn’t. or the one who is considered to be a snob or intellectual. You grow up fast. you need to learn how to communicate with them. Sometimes you’re asleep in the middle of the night. the one who is laughed at. So. All of this has to be done in a few minutes! And the ﬁrst time it happened. The worst punishment for soldiers at basic training is when they are sanctioned to stay one or two hours more at the base. when everybody else is going home. I was not allowed to go home more than once a month. wake you up and say. Basic training took half a year for me. The worst thing in the army is to be the one who is excluded.” And you are supposed to be outside with your uniform.the verge of criminality. Sometimes. seeing if there was dust. because it’s a mandatory service and nobody can escape that. You need three hours to really 89 . and then your commanders come. But all of them have to go to the army. The thing is that you’re supposed to be on call all the time. there is no way to please your commanders. you become indifferent to your own hardships and personable to others. but you get proportion. you are gone.
every couple of weeks we used to collect money and get chocolates and put them in boxes and send them to our soldiers on the border. You feel so little. Artists will come to your base and perform for free. You don’t know when it’s over. it’s called group dynamics. Four people went outside with all the guns and cleaned them. Everybody likes soldiers in my country. And I thought it was amazing. When I was in elementary school.m. We didn’t make it on time. After ﬁve minutes. After two days. but the pressure that they put on us was so extreme. everybody did something special. We were 25 people. that we started to work as a team. and with all the gear. but you wouldn’t be in time. Then. and you would have to run again.clean a room. We started to think not as individuals anymore. In movie theaters or soccer stadiums you will get really cheap tickets. I learned a few principles of life. when you go to the army. When I was a soldier. and they make you do everything again in seven minutes. We had to run with stretchers for eight kilometers. and not just seven minutes. You’d come back. everybody was ready and stood outside. Some women just go and volunteer in bases and bake cookies. we used to get packages from children 90 . you are scared. If you walk along the street in your uniform and someone is having a barbecue. Next time they’d wake us up at 4 a. so our platoon was punished. the platoon came up with the solution. we were all sleeping in uniform. Someone came up with a suggestion. and someone else sliced the one who cursed. they will invite you to eat with them. so we only had to put on the shoes. Nobody showed this to us. but as soldiers in a group. But at the same time you are proud. two people folded the blankets for everybody. someone cursed. and the rest went to shower. four people remained inside and cleaned the room. So.. Then something happened.
and she said. the army is the people. During the Gulf War. but I was not afraid of the Arabs then. because the Americans said that they would take care of it. surrounded by hostile Arabs and hostile British—without a state and without an army.in third grade.000 Jews. brother. I helped my mother to put on a gas mask. We heard the explosions. and the people are the army. wondering if the next missile you hear was going to crash on your house. After that experience. In Israel. “Why don’t we leave the city and go down to the desert?” She answered beneath the gas mask. and I am not afraid of the Arabs now. one house out of ten was hit. You might think it was stupid to stay home. And we will not let the Arabs kill us. The Israeli army did not retaliate against Iraq. Our parents and grandparents worked so hard to have independence. Everybody has a son. Allegedly. and ‘We think about you’. “It’s crazy!” I asked her. going to the army to protect my family and country seemed the natural thing to do. and I knew that we would not leave. and we’re not going to give it away!” 91 . And you say to yourself: “We will never walk voluntarily into gas chambers again. They didn’t want to ruin their coalition with Syria and other Arab countries. Saddam Hussein was ﬁring SCUD missiles and most of them fell into my hometown. Many people still do. And I looked at my mom. “I was born here when we were only 600. People did not know if the missiles were carrying chemical weapons or not. We will not let anyone do this to us. but there’s nothing you can do about it. I understood that there is a price I have to pay to live in my own independent country. but a lot of people have stayed in Israel through all the hardship and terror. They would send me paintings and postcards like ‘We love you’. sister or a daughter in the army. Soldiers are a part of daily life. So we sat there in our apartment like ducks in a shooting range. It’s the same thing.” She was so conﬁdent.
But then someone else could just kill me from behind without any provocation. It was confusing. without feeling threatened in any way. you give three or more years of your life to serve in the army. and there is also a lot of smuggling of hashish and marijuana from the Sinai. I could talk to a certain person on the street since I know a little bit of Arabic. Sometimes. The army is like a small society. It’s a problem. or a militant. you might get bored and you might take drugs. How should I treat the people. And if you’re a soldier and you’re on the borders. as friends. or just as people? What should I do? The whole situation was awkward to me.So. just as a part-time job. I know every street in every city. as enemies. the legal report. as they call it here. So. The price you pay is high. I worked as a police ofﬁcer. the investigators do most of the legal work. I met a lot of Palestinians there and most of them treated me nicely. I was working at a gas station before the army. it became the most interesting job that I could think of. I know every village in the West Bank. All of the people there were Palestinians from Gaza. There are good people and bad people. We would 92 . was shot. It requires a lot of maturity and you have a lot of power. After the basic training. I was positioned in the military police. The Syrians are exporting a lot of drugs. I had to go and investigate. It was not my choice. In the military in Israel. They go to the prosecutor with the ﬁnished dossier. It’s tough. I’d do everything like going to places of crime and interviewing witnesses. when a terrorist. but once I was there. You deal with crime. The area I was stationed at was the West Bank. Some of my friends never came back from the army— because they were killed in the defense of their country. because Israel is centered near drug producing countries. and show evidence they collected about crimes. It was a good experience for me.
from a very basic perspective. like half a year ago. This was before Arafat and his troops came to Gaza. And you think. Fifteen years ago. too. I was afraid of the mob. And my mom told him. And I think my mom is right. The convicts were behind barbed wire. “How could he do that?” Even if you have political differences. “Well. he was working very well and my mom thanked him. they do crazy things. we refurbished our house.” And that basically sums up the whole issue. As a soldier you are in uniform. and Arab riots take place frequently. I was a guard there for forty-ﬁve days. and some of them were friendly. I was scared. Those nice times are over now. how could he just sit there with a gun. So. “They belong to Arabs. grandma. and I was outside. two kids. When people are in a mob. but he said to my mother. and the father. “Whom do these castles belong to?” He lives in an apartment and had never seen such houses before. That area is heavily populated by Israeli Arabs. My nephew wondered. what do they want from us?” And my mom said. Yes. I’m not really refurbishing your 93 . Once I was positioned in a prison for terrorists. It was a family. “They want our houses. You come as an Israeli into their world. and you discover that he murdered four Israelis in a car. We were driving on a very important road that connects Tel Aviv and Tiberius. I would talk to them. But then you talk to someone who is nice. Most of those people were really intelligent. There are many beautiful villas and cottages on the mountains. My mother simpliﬁes it in a very interesting way. and the constructor that we worked with was a Palestinian.speak in Hebrew and would mingle together.” He wondered even more and asked. point at them and shoot them? What for? What is the point? And this is something that I still can’t comprehend. a woman who was pregnant. She spoke with my nephew. “So. My family would go to their houses for celebrations.
It’s amazing what we achieved in 53 years under very hostile conditions. I went there to satisfy my hunger for archeological artifacts. “What are you doing?” And they said.” Then ﬁght against me. And when you lose. we’re measuring your apartment. And I thought.” and I followed the sign. they were not harmed. and he had Arab neighbors. and they never returned. statues and paintings. that must be something big. And the Arabs initiated a war. That was before Israel was established. and I’m not going to give you my house. He grew up in Haifa. and of course I ended up in the Louvre Museum. they were not forced to leave. but they lost. You can’t just come to me and say. unimpressive black tombstone. give me your property. It led me to one of the smallest corners in the museum.house. So I was strolling there and was just amazed. on the way out. He asked them. because there was not yet an Israeli army. We’re going to move in after the Arab countries have taken this place. I don’t want to see you. trying to kill all the Jews that lived in the city. I went on a trip to Paris when I was 16. He was delivering messages for the Israeli militia. nor was their property conﬁscated. “Oh. My father was seventeen at the time. one day my father woke up in the morning and saw his Arab neighbors standing outside his home with measuring tools. After they lost that war. I’m really proud of my country Israel. I saw a little sign directing people to one of the oldest items in the Louvre. then try and take that property by terror and international pressure. the oldest item. “You don’t have the right to exist. I’ll give you peace in return. “Well. And there was a very small. I’m not going to give you my land. 94 . I’m refurbishing my next house. If you want peace with me.” Then they left to join a local Palestinian leader. Half a year after the war. That’s the situation in my country.” It’s like my dad’s story. Then.
and it was about Ahab. king of Israel. In the Louvre in Paris it occurred to me.I leaned over to read the description in English and in French. we eat the same kind of food and we dress the same way like our ancestors 4. as described in this tombstone. The date described on the stone is the holy day of the Passover. makes me proud. and we still celebrate it at the same time of the year. and 95 .500 years ago. The fact that the Jews are still around in that place. and was the ﬁrst synagogue the Pope visited. You can still read about it in the Bible in the Book of Kings. After two days of walking in the Vatican and seeing all those really great monuments and graves of former archbishops and all those magniﬁcent Baroque paintings. that the country I come from must be one of the most interesting phenomena in the history of humanity. As I was reading that description. but being one of the oldest nations in the world. and his defeat. And if you go to that synagogue in Rome. it struck me that I grew up at the same places described in that incident. I went to the synagogue next to the Vatican. which is one of the newest in the world. That very old synagogue was subject to terrorist attacks in the ‘80s. It was a great experience! Of course I went to the Vatican. living in a country. I could read it. because the tombstone was written in ancient Hebrew. that there are no paintings on the wall. The ﬁrst time I went to Rome. the ﬁrst thing you’ll notice. Nobody idolizes kings. when suddenly—and it still gives me the shivers when I talk about it—I understood that I did not need to read the description in English. I managed to hear the Pope. The words were carved in the stone. following the Hebrew calendar. We still speak the same language. It was at New Years Eve of the year 2000. And the cities that were mentioned on the stone are places that still exist today in my country. nobody idolizes humans. after you’ve seen all the princes and kings with crowns in the Vatican.
but I drowned. And this reflects Judaism in just one look. At some point I understood that math and physics are not such intellectual challenges.” Knowledge and spirit. but it didn’t work. He took me to the sea. And the more I solved questions and looked at the answers. But the problem itself is the same. the more I was not surprised anymore in exams. And now. math and physics. There exist only like ﬁfty different types of questions. So. is knowledge. By the end of high school I had A’s in both. but you cannot take the Jewish spirit away. my father tried to teach me to swim in the way his Latvian father had taught him. “The people of the Book. So he tried that several times. but my grades were horrible in math and physics. There is only one thing that is wearing a crown in the synagogue—The Ten Commandments. I wanted to go into the navy. you could take away the Jewish autonomy in Israel. I was studying a lot. I started studying much more by myself. When something is really hard for me. unlike kings or kingdoms. That’s why Jews are called. But I forced myself to like swimming. you could kill the king and send everybody into exile and take the land. and threw me in there where I couldn’t stand. I have to ﬁght it. When I was a kid. I had this phobia from water for a long time. I didn’t have great grades in the beginning of high school. I just love 96 . After that. I have this drive. cannot be taken away.there are no statues. And in any question you can change the numbers—instead of 5. you can say 10. and I loved the beach. because my two older brothers were so good in them and tried to explain it to me. And I couldn’t understand that. because what Judaism idolizes is a book. He expected me to ﬂoat. And my grades started to go up and up.
She is an amazing woman. history. I love sailing and diving. women. She has a very big smile—especially when I’m around. they were not around anymore. because she’s so sensitive. what would we do? That’s why I always had this drive to be the best in class. I’ve always had this strong sense of being independent and being able to do my own thing. My dad is—regardless of my reservations of how he handles his personal life—very smart and very charismatic. He was an independent lawyer and he had a big ofﬁce. and would not give her much. My dad is practical. the best here and the best there. you know: money. she will have a bruise for like a month. So. When you are in a room and he’s there. And then. He’s a hedonist. but still she didn’t make a lot of money. vacations and big legal cases. but he was always keeping my mom in check. My mother divorced from my father when I was young.swimming. She is all heart. he’s the most noticeable person. the best in the army. There were all those judgments and court cases on the walls. I always liked these conversations about law. My mother taught me everything about life. 97 . I always felt that there might be a time when he would not pay us anymore. Teachers earn so very little in Israel. so most of the time when I grew up. My father had a lot of money. money always was an issue. She’s not a pusher. and my two brothers are much older than me. I grew up in an apartment house in a suburb of Tel Aviv. There was a lot of light. we have eight months of spring in Israel. If she’s bumped into a table. and to me it all looked so glamorous. My mother was dean of an Israeli college. cigars. and sometimes I could smell the ocean. like a pianist. It was not enough to provide for my two brothers and me. She is so passionate and such an ideologist. She’s very delicate and has really long ﬁngers.
I’m very diversiﬁed. I played in a band.S. I was basically somewhere between the administration and the Justices. When the Justices were presiding on a case. I would also give my own suggestions and recommendations to the justice. and unfortunately I don’t have enough time to pursue them all. my interview. I’ve been a soldier. I was an instructor in a company for the preservation of nature in Israel. which is also charming in a way. and the question arose whether the Israeli Internal Intelligence can use force to get information from terrorists about future terror attacks under way. but it was nice to be there—and to get paid. I had to update the statutes every quarter. and I was giving advice to a Justice who is the elite of the legal profession. add the ordinances and the cases. I’m interested in a lot of things. A notable case I remember is called the Torture Case. At the age of 17. All of this I did within ten years. He has this certain roughness. It was not like someone was doing me a favor. It’s a lot of responsibility. Israel had signed the international convention against torture. England and the U. and that was it. Sometimes I would make summaries—the briefs are so huge. but I try. I was fresh out of law school. Germany. what questions to ask. I got the job because of my good grades in law school. I’m 28.politics and life. It was very boring work. I worked in his ofﬁce as a teenager. but also intimidating. I had to go through the folders. where to focus. A guy who took legal action in our court was a Palestinian that had been caught by the Israeli defense force 98 . I went to law schools in Israel. I have researched and taught torts and criminal law. and it’s a very famous case in Israel. make sure everything is there. At the Israeli Supreme Court I was a clerk. As a student I sold tickets in a cinema. I had to prepare the ﬁles. That’s the kind of guy he is. Also. I’ve been a private investigator.
because he’s from West Bank and Gaza. that had only joined the army a month before. And Israel applied martial law by the Geneva Convention. but this doesn’t give the Intelligent Services the authority to use force while questioning this person. and Israel has only ﬁve million people. Back to this guy and his case. “Okay. He and his associates had killed a couple of young Israeli soldiers that were hitchhiking. and they offered a ride back home to the soldiers. Although it doesn’t seem to be a rough treatment in comparison to the damage he had caused and planned. this would have meant a ‘de facto annexation’ that Israel didn’t want.” His case went to the highest court. Just as a comparison. you can use force 99 . Israel is the only country in the world that allows the Palestinians direct access to its highest court! This court gives ten thousand judgments a year. If you would see this person on the street with a bomb in his pockets. with two hundred and ﬁfty million people. and that they didn’t let him sleep. If they had applied Israeli law.S. they slaughtered them with knives. That’s the guy who came to the Supreme Court to ask for justice. In the car. legally it is still “torture. So whenever there is a conﬂict between a Palestinian and the State agencies. the Federal Supreme Court in the U. that they used to put him from the cell to the interrogation room with a sack on his face. The murderers disguised themselves as Orthodox Jews with beards and hats. The Court said. the case goes to the Israeli Supreme Court. and that he was handcuffed the whole time behind his back.in a village. gives about a hundred. And that’s America. maybe he committed something which is a crime. He was responsible for planning a bomb attack in a café in Tel Aviv. where a couple of kids and their mothers were killed. and most of that area was under Israeli control since 1967. He said that the Intelligence had been using force against him.
is very protective of human rights in times of war.M.” Everybody was happy when he said this. my friend got back from London. on Manhattan. you have a wonderful view on the Statue of Liberty and the ocean. although it’s not quite good at protecting it in times of peace. We usually have lectures at noon. see if there were any bombings in Israel. but it’s very good at suspending them in times of war. So with them I usually go downstairs for the morning coffee. So today it was about corporate document drafting. Many years ago in the ’50s. and he said. It specializes in corporate law. We live in a democracy. We usually start at 9:00 A. The 100 . he said: “The United States is very good at protecting human rights in times of peace. He’s my ofﬁce mate. And now I’m working as an attorney for a law ﬁrm in the south of New York. because they had been worried about layoffs.” And that’s how I felt about this case. I believe it was Justice Frankfurter. than being ﬁred. check the Web.” So the guy won the case. From the lobby there. This ﬁrm gives you “CLE”—Continued Legal Education. and we have to follow the rule of the law. “We are very crowded in our ﬁrm. and so I did. Today. and if there’s anybody I need to call immediately.to stop him. but you can’t use the force before the next act might be committed. Otherwise we lose our own justiﬁcation to exist. and we intend to stay this way. But Israel. Before the act. I also check the news. After you graduate. who was a Justice in the Federal Supreme Court. And people would rather be there crowded. I have two friends there now—it’s only been three months since I started my job. We have a very small ofﬁce. I came to New York to study law at Columbia University. and then I start working. We brought this issue up in the last associate meeting with the managing partner. they teach you about all kinds of new developments in law. you don’t have any authority.
And then we did all kinds of subsequent versions. I think it’s more comfortable when you make money. So what we learned was to think in advance of almost every possible scenario and put that into the contract. because he lives on a Caribbean Island. I need the intellectual challenge. but for me. I want to feel that I’m doing something important. to know that I’m not just another screw in the machine.instructor would give us an agreement. I’m dreaming of creating a business with friends. A lot of people measure success in terms of money. but who knows what will happen next? I have a friend. He doesn’t have to pay taxes. very simple and made of only three sentences. 101 . The simple document became longer and longer. If I don’t develop. Right now I’m an attorney. I like to come to work in the morning and feel good. and he has a private equity fund. but it doesn’t give you real satisfaction. I feel bad. because if the client had to go to court. because you could do the three sentences and stop. until it was three hundred pages long! And I realized how complicated this work is. I’d like to share my time with people that I enjoy and trust. I could just live with another person. He takes money from people. And I want to know that my work is valued. He’s very tanned. And I need to develop. it would have been much more expensive. It’s a nice life! I haven’t yet found the right person to be my wife. but I would like to be married. and returns the money. invests it and makes gains. I want to be happy. I need to feel needed. He doesn’t need to work for more than four hours a day. which is a tax haven. I’m ready to have my own family and settle down. It’s a very good ﬁrm. Success to me means satisfaction. because there would be so much litigation afterwards. but that would only lead to more expenses for the client. swims a lot and eats good seafood.
I’ve made a very good friend in International House. It bothers me that she doesn’t speak Hebrew. especially here in International House. I’d rather have her speak Hebrew and be able to communicate with me and with my friends on a deeper level.marriage is a statement like. but it was very deep. He’s from Germany. I like her very much.” I want her to be independent and smart.S. She had amazing traits and personality. There should be a lot of respect between us. And I didn’t know German. “I am willing to put in a real effort to make it work. I didn’t have too many girlfriends. and I meet so many interesting women. 102 . I would hope that she would enrich my life as much as I can enrich hers. As a leader. and he just cracks me up. but most of them were blonde. I like the Jewish holidays and the Jewish traditions. but she could learn that. I had a very interesting relationship—a very short one. but it doesn’t bother me as much that she’s not Jewish. And I don’t see anything bad about Christmas trees or Easter eggs. because I wasn’t there for long—with a German girl. I’m seeing an American-Catholic girl here. My mom definitely wants me to marry a Jewish woman. He’s very open-minded and has a warm personality. too. He has the best jokes about me I’ve ever heard. I’m in the U. this is what gives the relationship strength. than have her be Jewish. We studied together in law school. We talked about Hitler. And she was a brunette. He’s very sharp and very sarcastic. what can I do? I’m much more interested in a woman’s personality than her religion. I’m going to dedicate myself to a special person. We had a lot of interesting conversations. But what he did to the Jews was incomprehensible. Hitler made a few tactical moves that brought him very close to become what he wanted—the leader of a new Empire. But.
I’ll go. I’ve been a soldier. but as soon as they need me back home. The mentality is different. I miss home. I want to go to the beach with my friends.” We both agreed that. watch a good soccer game. it’s not like here. So. all that Hitler needed was a million more soldiers. I will go back to Israel. I know the smell of the army and I know its color. and speak Hebrew. who were enthusiastic and motivated to ﬁght at the Eastern Front. they would have fought for him. Instead. That’s my people. he sent them to gas chambers and killed them.My friend told me that a famous German war historian wrote. I’ll stay here in New York for a while and work. 103 . I will. if Hitler had given the German Jews equality and full emancipation. “In Russia. Because all the Jews wanted was the opportunity to be free and equal. It’s kind of one big family over there. That was madness. That’s my home. I want to feel connected. The connections are stronger because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. eat hummus. The German Jews could have given Hitler glory. The people are different.
I can go there now and cut up the bodies. and she didn’t have a gall bladder. He looked at me and said. But it’s going to be very hard when we start doing the hands or the feet. and our professor said. They were already removed. But I was wrong. let’s start dissecting!” So we removed the sheet from one body. It was the ﬁrst time I saw a dead person in my whole life. I was standing in front of the dead woman. 104 . “Eat here? Oh. but I got used to it. Everything is different. only they could not move anymore. They look like they are made of plastic. “Get over it! You’re not supposed to react this way!” I convinced myself that I couldn’t afford to show my emotions. no!” Then he said. and she didn’t have her pupils anymore. Before. There was this old woman. Last time we worked on a woman. You just see the body and it’s less personal. A strong smell came to my nose.” We were shocked. Our professor started to cut her up. Just don’t eat on them. The other students and I were dead quiet.CHAPTER 7 Halima—Senegal: We Are Cutting the Bodies in Half The ﬁrst time I walked into the lab. She was staring at me with her strange eyes. I almost fainted. because there’s no blood in them anymore. We cover the faces now. and I couldn’t move for a few minutes. all the bodies were covered with white sheets. The face is the worst. I don’t want to cut someone’s face and feel that person looking at me—even if it’s a dead person. “You need to respect these bodies. and it doesn’t do anything to me. I thought dead persons are just like living persons. “Okay. So it was hard. I think learning from the body is very helpful.
I paid ﬁfty thousand dollars this year to medical school. When she feels sick. she’d go to a traditional healer.We wondered.” and I stayed there 105 . we got a big lady today. A student once told me. One night I woke up with a strong pain in my stomach. So it just keeps you up to date on what you can ﬁnd and what you cannot ﬁnd in people. Imagine! They would have food in their mouth and their hands on a dead person. A book tells you.” And then you open the body and you look for it and it’s not there. He would give her powder that could kill even a healthy person. “Okay. The relatives of these people that donated their bodies to science will come. I don’t believe in this hocuspocus. Still. like the bodies of homeless people that were found on streets. My parents freaked out and brought me to the hospital immediately. I had a mysterious illness. but nothing ever happened to her. “Everybody has a gall bladder. So I don’t eat spaghetti anymore. “Oh. Where is it?” But hers was removed because she had gallstones. At the end of our course we’re going to have a funeral for all bodies we worked on. When I was around 13. “Well. Next week we’re going to cut the bodies in half. I would never donate my body to science. It just seems too barbaric to me. Like nerves. Sometimes they’re hidden. The doctor said. “Well.” Others eat in the lab. this nerve should be there above this muscle. Other bodies don’t belong to relatives. They’re all going to be cremated. so the least they could do is give me a body!” Another student makes stupid statements like. we’re going to keep her. My grandmother would never go to a doctor. in real life people are not very grateful. Nerves look like spaghetti and they feel like spaghetti. I don’t want my body to be treated like that. Never! Even though we are taught to respect the bodies.
My mom imports stuff like fabric. I’m not used to wearing it. But then my stomach pain intensiﬁed again. mostly from the Middle East. and it’s big. He didn’t look at me because he would never look 106 . But it’s traditional.” But she wants to be active all the time. It doesn’t rain a lot over there. My grandmother lives with her own mother. “The doctors can’t do anything for you. She has a TV.for ten days. nobody would ever tell my grandma. She always ties it and makes three ponytails and puts it under her headscarf. Around the area is a bamboo wall. and almost everybody knows everyone. It’s a huge compound. At my grandmother’s place I immediately felt better. and her sisters and their kids. “Sit down!” But when she comes to visit us in Dakar. my mother always says to her. The sisters all have their own corners with huts made of bamboo. He was small. She usually wears a single piece of fabric. I liked being with her very much. to Senegal. It is very intricate to wear it well. She is of Arabic descent. and sent me back home. She has two huge beds for her grandkids when they come for visits. and so she took me by the hand and we walked to the hut of a marabou. So my mom opened a store for her in her village. Then she gives some products to my grandma who sells it.” and she brought me to her village. My mom got her a phone as well. and therefore she has extremely long black hair. My grandmother said. that covers her whole body. mostly silk. Her house is the only one made of bricks. “Don’t do the household! Relax. I still remember him. and probably that irritates them and makes them red. In her village. It is very hot. a healer. In the middle there is a huge tree. so she does it even if it hurts. She puts black color like mascara under her eyes. I was still in pain. They could not ﬁgure out what was wrong. quiet and very humble. It’s 80 miles from Dakar in the center of Senegal. where my grandma used to make Chinese tea.
but I took it to please my grandmother. He gave her a bottle with some things in it. 107 . It’s an amulet that you wear on your body.at a woman. so they know the Koran by heart. “Yeah. she’ll die and you will have her husband!” My grandfather passed away about 20 years ago. she should put it in my water. People tend to pay them. There are different kinds of marabous in Senegal. But they lie and say things like. That means she is sixty. and because they are so grateful. “Take a seat!” My grandma told him. But she would make sure that I took the shower every morning before she went to work. I did not believe it was going to do anything for me. and told her that whenever I would take a shower. but they pretend to be wise. they used to give them a lot of money. My grandmother is ﬁve years older than my dad. “I think there’re some demons around her. They have spiritual power. The water was so cold and I was afraid of the stuff she would put in it. That’s probably why I still have my great grandmother. Some you would usually trust because they are very well trained in terms of religion. I’ve put this stuff in here. “Come back tomorrow!” The next day he gave me a gris-gris. and she had my mom when she was 14. and it’s supposed to protect you from bad things. The main religion in Senegal is Islam. Their medicine might not help. and eventually the sickness went away. I would try to run away from my grandmother every day because I didn’t want her to shower me. and I wore it for ﬁve years. Those healers you respect. There are those that do not have any special knowledge. So. This happened for a week or so. Please pray for her!” And he said. Just receiving their prayers makes you feel good. If you give it to this woman. She got married when she was 13. He said. He put Arabic inscriptions on it. but they give you strength to ﬁght your illness. Unfortunately. and many people believe in them. that creates swindlers.
because he’s a man. they would never agree. “You’re the woman. For my brother. so he could convince his future wife to become a Muslim. He lived in Boston. The one I am with right now could be my future husband. For the past two years. Everybody asks. So I don’t need to bother my parents with my problems. and I know I can always count on him. and both were not Muslims. because they have so many themselves.In my family I am the only one who has reached my age and is not yet married. because he sees that I do have a lot of work. We are very serious about each other and we see our future together. The only problem with him is that he’s extremely traditional in terms of the man-woman relationship. Once he came and asked. It’s just so good to have someone else whom you can rely on as much. too. but it’s not like I looked for a Muslim. “Haven’t you found someone yet?” They tell me about how my cousins’ weddings were so great. I cannot say that I have a boyfriend. I lived in Boston. He is very caring. He used to visit me after work. because I am not supposed to have a boyfriend without the intention of marrying him soon. I know for sure that they want me to marry a Muslim. I had a boyfriend from Guadeloupe and one from Germany before. I’m not supposed to have sex before marriage. “I worked all day. I’m twenty-three. and that women are not on earth to please men. I’m tired and I’m not cooking for you. But our plan is to go back home. because the environment there encourages his type of 108 . But if you’re a woman. it’s ﬁne whomever he marries. “Where’s dinner?” I said.” And he said. So if we live in an African setting it is going to be harder for me. You should do this!” To be in the States is an advantage for me. I do have a Muslim boyfriend. even if your future husband would tell them that he would convert to Islam to marry their daughter.
but then the business went down. I admire her. My parents had a room. every woman here does it. my mom has been the breadwinner of our family. would take food for me and put it on my plate. That’s when my mom opened up her business to make more money. The kids would sit in a smaller circle with the older people around them. We would all sit in the courtyard on the ﬂoor around a big bowl. I grew up in a village about three kilometers from Dakar. After that. so he couldn’t ﬁnd another qualiﬁed job. 109 . it is deﬁnitely my mom who has the upper hand. Earlier. We would watch TV for a while and talk. and my brother had one room for himself. and he continued working for his company without getting paid sufﬁciently. my mom or someone older who had the right to go to the middle of the bowl. Only older people sat on low chairs. vegetables. my sister and me shared one. my dad stopped bringing enough money home. “See. and fresh ﬁsh that came out from the sea in the morning. Everybody had to wait for her to say that before starting to eat. with one knee bent forward and the other bent up. We shared a house. My grandma would say a blessing in Arabic. we’d go to bed. We were 15 people. So why don’t you?” In my family. We lived there with my grandparents on my father’s side and with all my uncles and aunts. It was going well for about 20 years. I had to wait till my aunt. The living room was small. Since then. Until I was twelve. but we used to gather there mostly in the evening after our parents came back from work. My dad was 45. About ten years ago. he was the chief in the computer department of a company. In the bowl mostly there was rice. Like her mother she’s a very strong woman. Then. The whole family used to have lunch together.behavior and he might say.
She’d come in the morning and do work until six or seven P. Since I was nine. 110 . would go with the buckets. I was brought up that way. a ten-minute walk away from our house. so it didn’t bother me at all. but most of us ate with their ﬁngers. at the beginning I would take a small bucket of water and put it on my head. To carry water is more difﬁcult than carrying ﬁsh. No TV was allowed either. But nowadays. and I’d put all that stuff in a bucket and put the bucket on my head and walk back home. We had someone who helped out in the kitchen. Often.M. we have a staying maid. My grandparents’ neighborhood was called Beijing. kids were not allowed to look at people or to talk. like. She wasn’t paid very much. We had spoons. They are paid the most. In the type of neighborhood my parents live now. She stays for ﬁfteen days. All my aunts and I. So the women would go and get water from another sector. Everybody kept quiet until we ﬁnished lunch. a teenager. after the capital of China. Some people have living maids that have vacation once a year. We had problems with the water company. Then gradually I started using bigger buckets. and then she would go home.While eating. So. from a friend’s place. and then has two-day breaks. In Senegal. virtually everyone has someone like that. Yeah. whether you are poor or rich. I’d go to the market alone to buy the groceries. I do not remember it being dangerous. Ours was a young girl. There was a huge market. on my head! You get used to it. It was a working class neighborhood.. if you walk down the streets. because there were many Chinese people there. even though my parents would not like me to go out after 8 P. we had no water for the whole day. She gets paid much more. It becomes natural.M. I would go there with my aunt and get ﬁsh and condiments. and then eventually I graduated to a huge round one. somebody could just pull your earrings and run away with them.
We would ﬁght. “You’re not playing with us!” But I was persistent. and of course. Our parents were very mad and spoke to the director of the school. I was his bigger sister. “You’re not Catholic!” It became a big scandal. because every two seconds I found myself on the ground. I have a brother who is one year younger than me. I went to a Catholic school. The problem was that there were steps on the way home.One evening my aunts got ready to get water. That’s all we did. you’re not coming with us!” But I told them. and he would never touch me after that. So one day they said. So I tried to walk up those steps. My mother was shocked and said. After that. we did not have to say those Catholic prayers anymore. we’ll let you play!” I think there was a conspiracy amongst them to make me fall. Little boys are so mean. This time I had to do it alone. “Okay. I’ll never forget that. He had respect for me. “I’m coming!” I took a bucket and followed them.” And they left. I felt so humiliated. I always wanted to play soccer. I slipped and I fell. 111 . “We’re not waiting for you! We told you to stay home. The bucket fell and I was wet all over. and as they saw me falling. they stopped playing and laughed at me. There were nuns that mostly came from France or Spain. They took the water ﬁrst and said. and one day I went back home and I started saying those prayers. since most of the students who went to that school were Muslims. We were sent to that school because it was supposed to offer a very good education. and they ran the convent. But I still remember it. That was the last time I played soccer with them. It felt good to beat a boy. and our parents were not aware that they were making us Catholics. I kept going. There were all these boys playing soccer. “Today. I would beat him up. and for some reason they said. but the boys would say. Every morning we had to pray to Jesus. Most of my teachers were Senegalese and Catholics. Usually my aunts helped me to hold the bucket while passing it.
God is open-minded. You shouldn’t study. “You’re a woman. and everybody else is going to go to hell!” I don’t think so. I believe I shall disintegrate into organic matter. To me. After death. then it’s ﬁne. He’s open-minded and very smart. and I like it. It’s a holy place. it’s still an open question. My dad is a very quiet person and very gentle. because the Prophet Mohammed prayed there. At school. God understands. He studied computer science at the University of Dakar. Jehovah or God—it’s all the same. Once I 112 .” He always wanted me to achieve the highest. in Saudi Arab. But I could pray in other ways. because you’re following God. I do my prayers in the Muslim way because I’m used to it. He started this in 1975. my dad would ask. and I have got a lot of support from them. and if you believe in a greater someone. and so it would mean a lot to me. I hear people from one religious group saying. “Your dad was brilliant!” He never said. People say it’s what distinguishes us humans from animals. Education is very important for my parents. I’m serious! I’m still ﬁghting with this idea of having a soul. He really made me understand. when it was really new. It would mean a lot to my parents. Every time I came back from school. when I have enough money.My God is the God of all people. I was always the ﬁrst in the class and I got the best grades. I don’t think God is mad at me if I pray without kneeling on the ﬂoor and only once a day. geography or math. and people still remember and tell me. I will take my parents on the long trip to Mecca. only the people from my group are going to go to heaven. Call it Allah. Sometimes. “What do you have to study for tomorrow?” And then we would sit together and talk about biology. and that the soul goes to heaven or hell. With him it was fun to discover history and science. “Oh.
well. “If people die in Afghanistan. “Oh. damn him!” It’s not good for anybody that he’s around. but I couldn’t move. because if he could lead two airplanes into the World Trade Center. and I went home only for the weekends. That’s when I realized that people were dying down there. I don’t think it’s a good idea to bomb Afghanistan. I went to Hong Kong to a high school with a scholarship from the government there. He will say. It was awful. There was always a chance that it would turn against them afterwards. to Boston. he can do the same elsewhere. My mother called me and she cried.complained to him. He’s not ﬁghting for me! I always thought we should go after him. He says he’s ﬁghting for me. and now I’m at Columbia University. I thought. He bombed the embassy in Kenya before. After that. I cried. I heard some Americans saying. and I’m a Muslim. He could do it to me. I won a nationwide competition in education that allowed me to go to the most prestigious boarding school for girls in Senegal on a scholarship. “Oh. “You are the most selﬁsh people I 113 . He could do it in Senegal. that’s great!” When I was 13.” And I thought to myself. It was on an island. September 11 happened. But he is wrong. They showed the same images over and over again. American military were supporting Bin Laden when he was ﬁghting the Russians in Afghanistan. you never give me compliments!” Now it’s different. But I don’t say September 11 should have happened for any reason. “Oh my God. I can’t believe this is happening!” I could not get my eyes off the TV. and that it was real. “Dad. Then I went to the States. it is just a part of a war we did not start. I saw the towers of the World Trade Center collapsing on TV. Shortly after I arrived in International House in New York. When I heard Osama Bin Laden’s name.
There are dying because of land mines. And all Muslims aren’t terrorists. He is giving a class at the School of Public Health. They are willing to die for their cause.” Most Afghani people are victims just like the Americans here. he learned Spanish and speaks it 114 . A show was suspended on TV because an American journalist criticized Bush’s foreign policy. He is a model to me. He works in an organization that wants to improve health care for immigrants in the United States. My supervisor is a wonderful doctor. Since he has a lot of Spanish-speaking patients. Why is that? Who has the right to decide that one life is worth more than another? Of course you can’t say these things now. and they were treated so badly. He believes that being an immigrant and not having health insurance should not be an impediment getting health care. He really cares about his patients. And you can’t just kill more of these people. They don’t want the Taliban. Sometimes I have the impression that one thousand dead Afghanis are equal to one dead American. To save a life is the greatest power I can imagine. People are dying there because of the Taliban. But then you should sit down and think about it.” Terrorists are different from all of us. I think it’s natural to ask for revenge. I’ve heard Americans themselves try to say this. and he teaches students about how they need to approach patients from different cultures. torture. I think if this happens to Americans. because health care is a basic right of everyone. illnesses and hunger. Once a week I’m doing a practicum in a hospital on Manhattan. He’s not into medicine to become rich like so many doctors I’ve met.know. I understand the outrage of the Americans. I’m becoming a doctor in order to save life. Otherwise they’ll send me back to Senegal right away. “All Arabs aren’t Muslims ﬁrst of all. I’m not willing to die for any cause. I should better shut up.
It does help your diagnosis a lot. In Senegal. Many persons die because nobody can give them ten dollars to get pills to survive. This is my ﬁfth year of studying medicine. 115 . There is not enough equipment. I went to see a doctor last week because I was having a problem. to listen to what your patients have to say. “What is it for? And he said. I am not taking your whole day!” He was exactly the kind of doctor I will never be. Read it!” I was really annoyed and said. I might specialize in infectious diseases. there are many people that are not able to afford ﬁfty cents to go into a hospital and see a doctor. It would enable me to understand how the health care system works. I’m going to do a masters in Public Health. and I still have three years to go. I want to change that! I’ve worked in hospitals and labs every summer that I went back home to Senegal. He spent ﬁve minutes with me and then he wrote me a prescription. “You should at least answer my questions.ﬂuently now. Besides. Some surgeons don’t even have gloves to put on for operating. Doctors are poorly paid. “It’s on the bottle. I think just having strong feelings against something is not enough! That’s why I become a doctor and go back to Senegal. So I know how it is there. because this is a major problem in Senegal. I asked him.
rather than black hair. They were three brothers from Ireland. because potatoes were the main food in Ireland. Australia was very far away. The last member died in 1896. many Irish citizens left their island. He speared them. They had red hair. He never forgave his daughter and the white sailor. he married an Aborigine princess. The princess was from a Tasmanian aboriginal tribe that was completely different from the main land aboriginals. married and had kids. the white people killed most of them. None of them lives anymore. But the father of the princess was the chief of their tribe and did not agree with this marriage. There were many different tribes in Australia before the white men came. On his ships he brought out thousands of convicts from Europe to prison camps in Australia. Ancestors on my dad’s side came to Australia about 200 years ago. Many suffered badly from hunger.CHAPTER 8 Scott—Australia: Nobody Should Live in Hell My eighth great-grandfather on my mother’s side was a sailor. So he killed some of the children that they had. Around 1800. The second one went back to Ireland. 116 . They had been there for about 40 thousand years. At that time. because there was a horrible disease in the potatoes that killed many people. That’s why I have family here. But within 100 years. but held the promise of a better life. But only one of the three brothers stayed there. and their culture was very rich. Most of my family members are quiet characters. and the third one came to New York. He was the ﬁrst white man to marry a native woman in Australia.
but then my grandfather met my grandmother and decided not to. she would make a big dinner. She was very generous. They’re comfortable with all their gold and assets while there are people all over the world starving. My grandma always liked to share the good things in life. that made her happy too. and we would cook all together or play games. 117 . She had a big yelling voice. I think I have the duty to treat people well and to help those that are less fortunate than me. and his son was going to be a priest as well. If someone was happy. She bought a Nintendo when they ﬁrst came out. I have a personal religion. I used to go to my grandparents’ house on the weekends. Whenever someone came over to her house. and it had fake bricks on the outside. but my grandparents paid off their own house while they were living there. It was a house made of concrete. I mean. They lived in a commission’s house. because they believe that institutionalized religion increases problems between people of different faith. In the back yard there was a big garage. a swimming pool and a very big vegetable garden. Neither she nor my grandfather preached to me. My grandma died a couple of times before she really died. I just ﬁnd that totally hypocritical. some religious leaders are very accommodating and very tolerant. My great grandfather was a priest. a basketball rink. and she could play with it! I remember the carpet at their place. My grandmother was quite up-to-date. but many of them are not. She had some ‘out-of-body’ experiences. But she was very friendly. My family and my friends are against religion. She loved to feed people. which is like the projects here. I never saw my grandmother go to church. It hadn’t been replaced for a while and it was quite worn. She weighed 100 kilos or even more. and so I’ve decided that I don’t want to subscribe to it.My mother’s mother was a very large and fat lady.
a crow. her sister. The second time was when my mother’s brother died. My mom is scared of her. “Oh. you need to go back. 118 . she came out of her coma and woke up again on earth. My dad was sitting in the living room. And he was told that my uncle had died. She was in this marble room with gold trimmings. And my father thought. and her son who had been killed in a motorbike accident. and on the phone was my mom saying that my grand auntie had just died. this is creepy. she was lying on the operating table in a hospital. and some people can see it. “Mom. He went inside. In that room were her mother. The third time he saw a single crow approaching him was before my grandmother ﬁnally died of cancer. and she could see the doctors giving her heart massages and stuff. My father’s sister is a witch. My grandma felt so warm and happy and she wanted to stay with them. a black bird. She told me that she was ﬂoating above her body. would ﬂy near him. She had a pack of tarot cards. She is a psychic. The phone rang. The ﬁrst time it happened was when my mother’s auntie was dying. A crow ﬂew right up to him. A crow came and picked on the outside of the window. sat on a branch. He thought it was really bizarre. My mom has seen her pick up a spoon and bend it by just looking at it. it’s not your time yet. The Aura is like your soul. Whenever somebody close to my father is dying. He didn’t really believe that there was a connection between crows and death. My dad was out in the vegetable garden working.” Then the phone rang. She acts as a medium for spirits.” After that. Then she saw a bright light and was moving towards it. looked at him and crowed. and so is my father. She saw her moving a glass across the table with the power of her energy. and while holding it she would split her aura.The ﬁrst time she died. But then her son said. until his sister talked to him.
If you want to live in International House. Usually. I did a good job. She deﬁnitely has some speciﬁc knowledge. In ’98. And when I came here. crows were well known as the messengers of death. My boss told me about I-House. I’m not afraid of my own death.It’s colorful. and we’ll have a good time. Every year the organization has an annual conference. She told my father that. Then we did projects together over the Internet. Since she had a crack in her aura. it would happen when she was in bed and was just about to fall asleep. We got to stop it. I think that hell is on earth. you have to be at least 21. I applied for an internship in New York. I had been stuck in Chicago because of a snowstorm that brought two feet of snow. and I volunteered there. We used the Internet to communicate. The idea is to bring people from all over the world together in a network. in ancient Egypt. She used to get possessed by evil spirits. I had just turned 21. I’ll go to heaven and there I shall meet all my family members and friends that have already died. I started with a project at my school. because in ’96 they wanted me to do the same in Budapest in Hungary. The spirit would get into her and just pinch her all over. I only want it to be fast. I had been at the airport for about 15 hours. In ’95 it was in Melbourne. Nobody should live in hell! I came to New York to do an internship for an international education organization that I had been working for in Australia. She has read books about magic and stuff. but I didn’t have enough money to go there. she would get possessed very easily. Some of my classmates teamed up with a group of students here in New York City. But I waited a few more years considering my age. and got it straight away. I don’t think there’ll be a judgment after my death. I arrived here on New Year’s Eve. There is so much suffering going on. It was very horrible because it 119 .
they have a problem with heavy metal in the water. When I ﬁrst walked into my room here in I-House. and I can sleep really well. a name I had not even heard before. I talked with a woman from Nepal. On my ﬂoor. a small bed and a blanket with a sheet. so a lot of people get kidney stones and die from them. For example. Someone told him to turn it down.” But he told me that he just doesn’t like vegetables. I put posters up and decorated my room nicely. To me. It’s very friendly on our ﬂoor and quiet. I wear earplugs anyway. They eat chicken and wafﬂes. a guy from Miami who is Dominican. an Indian guy who wears a turban. My room is really dark. big brick walls. because often they can’t get treated. I just go to my room to sleep. that’s totally weird. “Oh my God. I thought. Living here is like traveling. and I was extremely tired. which makes a lot of noise. From her I learned that in her country. and another Indian who doesn’t wear a turban. or sausages and bacon on a pancake mixed with maple syrup. but that most of the Germans eat them a lot. So I thought: “That must be a German thing. I’ve got an Asian-looking guy who is an American.was so cold. They’ll have whipped cream here and a potato salad there. Americans mix sweet and savory on one plate. I don’t mind. I thought. You experience something new every day. I-House is one of the best places you can live in New York. “How can I live here?” But within a week it was better. because outside my window there is an air-conditioning unit. And I met a lot of very interesting people. Often I just talk with residents from countries like from Tajikistan. since there is a wall right outside my window. I found out that my German friend doesn’t eat vegetables at all. this is a jail!” It looked so unfriendly with its linoleum ﬂoors. Though the person next to me plays his stereo really loud. 120 .
They are like pests.-society be democratic. But those poor people that don’t have access to education would vote less. Australia is a beautiful large country and continent. “How can the U. That means you can go to the doctor. I also like Sunday Supper. You come together with 300 international students and have dinner together. with beaches. If you earn under a certain annual salary. If you don’t vote. there are less poor people than here. But they are cute to watch. Last time. I think that’s the reason why there is a huge poll of poverty situation in the United States. They are shy and 121 . red or gray. rivers and big cities. I think it’s good to enforce voting. dessert. Those at my aunt’s farm are big gray ones. because they eat all the grass. listen to fantastic music and to speeches on actual topics. Yes. I especially liked the question that an Australian girl asked the distinguished speaker like. you are eligible for what they call Medicare.” In Australia.S. There are two types. I’m proud of being an Australian! I come from a free country. We have a good social welfare system for people that can’t work or are ill. and the government will pay for the treatment and the prescriptions. mountains. And they would lose out. I did a lot of cooking and gave away a lot of food for that. it is compulsory to vote if you’re over 18 and under 65 years old. you get ﬁned or go to jail. It was very good to see all the residents coming into Davis Hall and learning about my culture. In Australia. In a society like ours back home. if less than 50 percent of the citizens vote for the government?” And the speaker said: “You must be Australian. you always have people that are educated and afﬁliated with parties and vote to get what they want. We have kangaroos.I ran the Australian Cultural Hour in I-House. We have one of the highest standards of living in the world. Sometimes my uncle shoots at them.
and it takes a lot for her to get angry. She smokes. so my mom kicked him out. He would drink too much. They can kill you. He unloads the ships when they come in. He’s your father and you should love him and visit him.hop away if you come to close. I-House pays me and it’s a good thing. they rear back and grab you with their front paws. and I do some work at the front desk. He gets a lot of money. When I graduated. And she is a mothering wife.” So we did. I also work in the bazaar as well. The last time I was asked about kangaroos was on a Friday night in the pub here in I-House. Through my work I hear a lot of weird stories from all over the world. I’ve been there once when I was ﬁve. It has happened to some people. My mom was more independent. My father was 22. My dad is very much a happy chump. where I’m working in the pub as the barman. Some male kangaroos are very territorial. 122 . He doesn’t get upset or anything like that. But my mother would say to us kids. She is very shy and thin. but she doesn’t drink. my father and my stepmother came and stayed at my mother’s house for the weekend. My father was not a good husband. I was about ﬁve. He did not spend enough time with the family. “He is not an idiot. because my dad sort of needs a mother. He uses the big cranes to take the cargo out. My mother got married in Port Melbourne when she was 19. My mother gets on really well with my stepmother. My parents have always had a good relationship. and it was quiet impressive. They are not enemies. often about love and marriage. It always made her angry when I picked on my sister. She thinks she is good for my father. since I have some time left over and I always need the money. If you come too close to them. She is three years younger than me. He works at the harbor. nor did he provide enough money for food and the other bills.
She would hit me so hard. She was very strict. So my mom tried to get a job in the late ’80s. and it made her sad. and when she jumped into her bed. She would scream so hard.” She told me how much would be appropriate. She hasn’t met anyone she wants to marry. my mother told me: “Okay. and I got into her room and crawled under her bed. Since I knew my mom was in trouble. When we were in school. Once she cried and said: “I don’t have enough money anymore to buy us food. and she came to visit me here in New York. if you want to drink. She did this for ﬁve years. She never got married again. I came out and grabbed her. In Australia. But it was not enough money. you’re allowed to drink now. It would hurt. Now she has money to spend. she’d take a day off. My mother’s sister was the opposite with her children. but my sister and I turned out better than my cousins. but I didn’t drink alcohol until I was 18. Then she came back. if you are a single mother.Once my sister got up to go to the bathroom. and my mom is starting to have her own life. My mom was easygoing. because if a child gets sick. She works as an aid with disabled students in a special school. I felt responsible and tried not to make it worse. She has this one 123 .” So we went to my grandmother’s place and had dinner there. when I was in 6th grade. Then the spoon would break. and then she got a job. we never had any rules like a speciﬁc dinner. My mom couldn’t get a job.or bedtime. My sister and I are going to universities. they provide social welfare. but it was just so funny. And we would laugh and laugh. But people wouldn’t employ a single mother. She has had boyfriends. She started doing volunteer work in the early ‘90s. my sister and I. I remember getting the wooden spoon from my mom. When I was 15.
Now. It was like having a connection. He was one of the chairmen in the social justice committee. If my future wife is a person that likes to travel the rest of her life. I might change my mind. The latest crush I had was really strong. We just used to hang out and she was my girlfriend. Well. At the moment. and he knew him. “You better be practicing safe sex!” My mom tells me not to get married soon. They got together about ten years ago. and I said to her. It was a whole new feeling. but then it was bad. If you are committed to a person. because nothing really happened. The ﬁrst time I met him at a United Nations conference in Australia. you’re committed to a person. I don’t like the idea of being committed or settling down at one place. He spent a night with my mom. The last time he came over to Melbourne was three years ago. Her name was Lucille and she was just so cute and cuddly. sweet and caring. That was when I was six. My grandfather tells me the same thing. I told him about my feelings and he seemed to have all these words of wisdom to comfort me. I want to have kids. he was involved with someone that he 124 .boyfriend that lives on the other side of the country. Now my whole world is turned up side down. and we met and talked a lot. I should ﬁrst ﬁnd the right person and then live with that person. I really remember her a lot. and I was impressed by his power. First time I had a huge crush was on this girl from England. I was happy being single and independent. At the time that we met. First it was good. and so we ate a vegetarian pizza together. I didn’t eat meat at that time and he’s a vegetarian. I was working with someone in the conference. I have no ambition of getting married. like wanting to be with him and just holding hands. I’ll wait till I’m 35. That person is just so very smart. During the conference there are a lot of social events in the evening. And so it happened that we went for lunch to a pizza place. Before.
In the morning of September 11th. I spoke to a seismologist and he told me not to learn Japanese. I don’t worry! I have a science degree in geology. big building.” 125 .” I thought. “Grab a plane tomorrow. When I arrived there. I was devastated. If he asked me. he has not written emails very often and we have not spoken very often. I was in International House and I went down to the admissions ofﬁce to get a sticker on my ID card. but now I am comfortable with that. “She must be on drugs. He suggested learning Indonesian. I’m still so crazy. It was a surprise in the beginning. and he just saw a plane ﬂying into the side of it. I wouldn’t have come to New York. How can you possibly ﬂy into it?” And she said. I don’t want to be stereotyped as gay. I might learn Hebrew and Arabic. “You’re not going to believe this. After September 11th I have even more reason to do so. Particularly since I went to Israel in ‘95. I want to know about what’s going on in international politics. And I know in my head that it would have been the stupidest thing ever. He writes essays though. because in Indonesia they don’t have any seismologists. If he’d asked me to wait or something. Since I’ve been in the States. I was going to learn Japanese because I wanted to be a seismologist. I think I’m bisexual. “My boyfriend works in the building across from WTC. I don’t lose sleep over it.had just met a week before. I’d have done anything for him. I would really like to study about terrorism. and those are absolutely amazing. but a plane just ﬂew into the World Trade Center. I always wanted to learn foreign languages. because in Japan they do not employ foreigners. one of the ladies in the ofﬁce said. How can a pilot miss the World Trade Center? It’s a big. I don’t want to be put in a box. So I learned Indonesian and got another degree. because I’ve always been thinking of Middle Eastern studies as well.” I’d do it.
I went to Indonesia when the new President was sworn in and there were supposed to be riots. because the Internet is not working anymore. And then I was supposed to go to Slovenia.” When I got the offer to come here. I thought that the United States was safe.I went to work. but they bombed the airports the day before I got there. I’ll hug my family and all my friends. 126 . If there will be attacks. Thousands are going to die in the war against terrorism. and they were trying to work out where the next plane would crash. I tried to get on the CNN and BBC Internet sites to see if I could ﬁnd something. I was in Lebanon and I was bombed there from Israeli forces. I ﬁnished my internship in New York. but none of the pages were loading up. America appeared to be so invincible. which is two blocks down from here. Nothing happened to me. I’m going to Australia soon. “This is the end of the world! We are going to die!” I wanted to call everyone I love and say “Good-bye. I was totally shocked. And I thought to myself that it was a full attack on the United States. When the third plane hit into the Pentagon. this must be big. Like everybody else. Back home. When all this happened I thought. I realized that this was a big disaster.” Thousands were killed in New York. I’ll ﬁght to protect my country. We’ll have beer and a big dinner.” Then I heard it on the radio that two planes had hit the World Trade Center. So I said: “Ok. I panicked and thought. but nothing happened. We lay back and enjoy life. A few minutes later I heard in the news that there might have been chemical or biological weapons on the planes. “Maybe somebody is trying to tell me something.
127 . because all the time I dreamt about coming to New York and studying art. At that time. and my father didn’t like it at all. but it became automatic after a while. and how to pay them in chips. Every game has rules. I started working in casinos. It started as a summer job. If you want to do it professionally. because I was at a special high school where I learned German. She is a fearless woman. You have to calculate bets. in which a lot of arithmetic is required. But Turkish staff was allowed. and so a lot of college students would work in the casinos to get some extra money. paid for college and saved some of it. my friend was doing it. for tourists. They needed people that could speak English ﬂuently. My friend from childhood was working in the casino ﬁrst. you have to be trained three to six months. Since it was good money. She graduated from high school and entered college one year before me. I earned a lot of money. I learned how to deal the cards to the players. casinos were very new.CHAPTER 9 Bahar —Turkey: I’d Enter a Glamorous World When I was 19. Turkish people were not allowed to gamble. I had to learn about Blackjack and American roulette. I had to do a long. and I ended up working there for seven years as a live game dealer. and ﬁrst it was very complicated. I was intrigued and wanted to do it as well. You have to have some basic intelligence. But before I could start. supervisor and assistant manager. long training. They were only for foreigners. a lot of rules. and that education took longer. I would enter a very glamorous world.
they’d still have more money than any of us dealers would have during our whole life. the summer was also over. My father is a businessman. And today. But then casinos were opened for the Turks as well. I saw people losing $50. the Turkish government closed all casinos. with all humanities courses like philosophy and sociology. Tourist gambling is really nothing. And my father was offended that his daughter decided to work in casinos. I worked in a lot of casinos. And so I went to one of the best business schools in Turkey.When my ﬁrst training was over. I lived with ﬁve hours of sleep per day through most of my college time. A lot of people think it’s like prostitution for a woman to work in a casino. He was afraid something could happen to me. Of course. some people got angry and upset. It was always very safe. It’s a sickness. The ﬁrst year was great. I saw people that gamble with the very little they had. So we had big ﬁghts when I started to work. It was a full time job. I took one year off and almost decided not to continue. It was hard. College started. there is no casino in Turkey anymore. But the second year was marketing and accounting. He wouldn’t even have a backgammon game at home. because it was a night job. in case it was not. Tourists come and gamble and go back. It was really hard to get in. Then there were these people coming every night. because I knew 128 . since he had great hopes for me to do something meaningful in my life. It’s not a big deal. That was just horrible. Gambling is like alcoholism. but it never was dangerous for me. not even for tourists.000 within seconds. My father hates gambling. We had security guards. and I started working as well. But even when they’d lose so much. They lost everything and ruined their lives. It can be like an emotional turmoil. After a few years.
Every ﬂoor in the building where my home is. But I wouldn’t. I grew up in an apartment building on the 7th ﬂoor. you better live by my rules. in International House I lived on the 7th ﬂoor as well. But they closed it down. which is amazing. we used to roller-skate. I lived there till I was 20. Funny. I even have some furniture there. There was a spacious entry hall with marble on the ﬂoor. “You can come back now. Our skates had four wheels and you strapped them under your shoes. Now. I left some things with my parents. We used to have a little balcony. It has bookshelves. There. an open dining room and a kitchen. And he said. We would jump out of the cabin before it really stopped at the ﬂoors. I left quite abruptly. the place is full of buildings. “Well mom. That was the ﬁrst time I left. I’m coming back soon and bringing more stuff.that business was not what I wanted to do. Ours has a big living room. It was dangerous. But you can still see the Bosporus and its beautifully ﬂowing waters. My parents were very upset with me. “If you would like to continue living under my roof. which was very old. My bedroom is the smallest one. 129 . I was not yet ready to live my own life.” My room has a nice view on green grass where we kids used to play. and all my books are still there. I just called her and said. But I went back to college. and all the kids used to play there. Next to the entrance there was an elevator. completed my ﬁve years and got the degree. Now it is a part of the kitchen. has three apartments. My father wanted me to give up the casinos.” So I left home. because when I came here. And then my parents said.” I did go back. It’s my mother’s bedroom now. We have three bedrooms. I lived with a friend for two months. The cabin did not have a door. My mother is really sick of that. It was just a normal standard apartment that my parents got in 1965. Nobody ever broke legs or arms. which I loved.
It was in our apartment building. It’s just so closed. I love animals. And my poor mother would go crazy.But I wouldn’t like to live there anymore. like squirrels here in New York. but it’s more exciting to eat what other people do. you want to go out and play and not be responsible. I don’t want to live on the 7th ﬂoor without a balcony. Sometimes they get together and try to attack you. I want to be close to the earth. It’s like other people’s dresses. It was a public school. Till I was 13. But it was very nice when people showed up and bought stuff. My mother was at home all the time. so I had her company. My friend lived in a 5-story building right next to us. Everybody would eat the same thing. But I never thought of them being scary. But my friend was very afraid. There was an arrangement that every day one of the mothers would come and provide food for all the children in the class. that I would constantly forget about going home. so you could visit friends and safely play with them. We had many ﬁghts and did wild things. I had scratches and bruises all over my body. The school was within walking distance. I didn’t like it. All the apartment buildings had gardens around. Now. He would work in his little store selling furniture. Even their old stuff is like a novelty for you. It was better than eating your mom’s food every day. It felt so good to stay with them. It was very boring. So I had to pick her up and take her to school. I still like it. Always. In Turkey. my father is 80 and my mother 70. we have many street cats and dogs that just roam around. My mom is a great cook. Imagine spending 80% of your time sitting there and doing nothing. 130 . I don’t have any siblings. If you are a child. My father had already retired when I was a child. I liked the neighborhood a lot. Sometimes I was supposed to help him. My job was to wait for customers.
My mother is a beautiful woman. She’s been always there for me. and my father was the third person. But now. I loved pasta and meatballs. Like: my mother cooks. Sometimes. We did it just for the fun and taste of it. We would go to theater. I had problems with my father. which was not normal at that time at all. We were like very good friends. I still like pasta. I’m a nonsmoker as well. Growing up. We would go to nice places and eat together. She’s always well dressed and her hair is always made up. We used to hang out together until I started growing out of it. she’s happy that I’m going to come home to Turkey. and she is very young at heart. She is a non-smoker like my father. My mom showed me how to cook. I never got used to cigarettes. On my website there is one painting of her called “Mother and Daughter. My mom and I teamed up. I always tried to measure up to her—literally. But when I was 14. and father sits at the dining table where my mom serves him the food. but she was even more so before. When I was a child.” It’s a woman kissing a bird on her shoulder. My mother is still lively and enthusiastic about life. I smoked my ﬁrst cigarette with her in a beautiful lobby of a hotel. she is slightly depressed. As a kid I enjoyed her company very much. but not meatballs because I’m vegetarian now. concerts and ballet. I would measure her waist and compare it to mine. She does not go out without at least putting some lipstick on. She was 36 when she had me. But he liked to play the boss like in traditional families. I learned a lot just by looking at her. opera. She is a good mother. 131 . She likes art. I enjoyed being with her in the kitchen and cutting vegetables and preparing soups. She gives me a sense of how hard it is to become older. I was just so crazy.
Once I needed a second pair of shoes for school. Just before I was born.Money was a big issue. But for him it was just luxury. and so my mom had to buy it for me.” My father was an angry person for a reason that was not related to us so much. So he 132 . I’ll take care for you. She’s been ﬁnancially dependent on my father all her life. a leather factory. And I said to my mother.” She was stunned and spoke to her brother. That happened to my father. and he was very strict. My mother has only a little bit of her own income. We were sick of my father abusing his power. and then they decided to go to Istanbul. too. Anything except for food and bills he considered a luxury. He got into a partnership with somebody who had another business. my father gave my mother pocket money and me as well. He had a textile manufacturing business. they lived in his hometown for 14 years. And recently we had this big crisis in Turkey. We were both uneasy. He has always feared that there will be a money crisis and money would disappear. She can’t take care of you. He had experienced depressions during Second World War. “Let’s leave him and live on our own. When I was little. He wouldn’t give the money. They had this big love story. Before going to Istanbul. he lost a lot of money. It was the worst combination on earth. Everything just seemed to be not right. he sold it. He is not from Istanbul like my mother. My father had the control of the money. Everybody that had investments in Turkish money woke up one day and had only half of the money than the day before. After they got married. but he said. “Have you lost your mind? Your daughter is just a child. my mother went into menopause. He is afraid of spending money. He would just provide for shopping and rent. When I began my teenage years.
But the partner cheated on him.” My mother had brothers that were much more conservative. He just could not get over that. He was someone from the neighborhood. and my father lost all his money. Wasting things made him angry. I’m happy about it. and we hung out together. my father would be angry. So prosperity became our main theme. But I have to give him credit. he had to start all over again. If you dropped something and it broke. And now they stay mostly at home and get along pretty well. They enjoyed the good life.gave all his money to him. For his time he was a very progressive minded man in Turkey. In Istanbul. If you asked him for money. The ﬁrst time I fell in love was when I was 17. My parents would go to balls and dance. because they did so much dancing in their early years together. That was all before me. and he helped me out and gave me a lot. They wouldn’t allow her to go to the beach. He would say. I started to think more clearly of both my parents. and it was really dramatic. He would try very hard to become prosperous. First we became friends. He was 18. Our wardrobes were ﬁlled with things that should have been thrown away two years ago. And sometimes. my father prepares breakfast. There wasn’t much of ballroom dancing in Turkey. that also made him angry. They were married in 1952. I don’t really know what is going on in his heart and mind. They traveled pretty much all over the world. When I bought my apartment in Istanbul. My mother still has to throw away things secretly. That was very harsh for him. My father is a very quiet person. He was very sensitive and 133 . “Let’s go and buy a bathing suit and go swim in the ocean. I asked him for money. and I always envied them looking at their pictures. and then we became closer friends.
just the name of the area where we were. “I can’t live without you for two weeks. It was quite intense. It was so romantic! I told my parents that I was with people in the disco. Before school. and nothing really happened. We were not supposed to have sex before marriage. And it would be very painful to separate at night. He lived with his mother. But he found me. He said. but my father didn’t. We were going crazy. and we tried to respect it. we met secretly on the beach.wrote poetry. Under an olive tree we sat and talked until late into the night. I had to go to a course to learn for an exam to get into university. I just can’t do that. His father had died when he was ten. We were both living with our families. and his apartment near my neighborhood was sealed. It was very romantic. we couldn’t stand it anymore and we broke the door of that apartment and spent the night there. We should be together all the time.” I told him. we would sit in a café and have breakfast together. My mother knew about it. We didn’t have any place for privacy. We had a nice summerhouse. “We have to live 134 . One night. And he repeated. “I can’t bear it anymore. because the neighbors thought that the place had been robbed and would watch out.” I was concerned about him doing something stupid. His grandfather had died a few months ago. So I was planning to go. it became very complicated. Our romance lasted a year. “I can’t tell my parents that I wouldn’t come with them. but he got quite traumatized and said.” But for some reason I was not interested in thinking about our future and wedding. and we had no money. We spent so much time together. Sometimes. One evening. The summer came and as usual. That’s what we had learned. I would just skip it and hang out all day with him. After our breaking in incident. I had to go with my parents on vacation for two weeks. I did not tell him exactly where we were going. We were still students. On the weekends.
When we ran away. ID or clothes. “Move in and live with me. “What am I supposed to tell you father?” I was sorry. he got married with the next girlfriend he had. We ran to the highway and hopped on the bus. It was pretty bad.” That’s how we got married. It’s still an issue to live with someone in Turkey and not be married. We thought they would negotiate with my parents on our behalf. “I don’t think my parents would accept that. let’s go. I didn’t want to move out immediately. We went to Istanbul. We had to ﬁnd jobs. I had risked that my parents wouldn’t talk to me ever again.” That night I said. I was 21 and I had already worked in casinos for two years. You know. He was living by himself. I was almost 18. By that time.” But I said. and I was dating a guy at that time that had an apartment. Once I got married. “Ok. I was looking for a place. I believe he would have never had a regular job. He had a sister who was a few years older than us. And I’m the one who keeps drifting all the time. After midnight I called my mother and said. which was probably a smart thing to do. But our practical marriage lasted for three months. because it was during my school year. my father still hadn’t a clue that I had a boyfriend. But I think I did the right thing. We lived in the same apartment for a year. I felt guilty about what I had done. and he said. I didn’t get over him for a very long time.” And she said. We decided that it was not going to work out. I broke up with him. We wanted to build our own lives. And we are going to get married. I stayed until the summer break 135 . I started tutoring and hoped that he would try something similar. But I realized that was not trying hard enough. I was ready to move out of my parent’s house. “I’m with him. She was married to a student of medicine. The deal was that we had to get engaged ﬁrst for a few months. I didn’t have any money.together for the rest of our life. It was very painful for me as well.
you just sit in front of something and paint right away. but I always knew that I had to learn a lot.” I thought to myself. There are a lot of techniques. paint. My parents didn’t know. and so I started to learn Italian. We got ofﬁcially divorced three years after our marriage. I had a relationship in Turkey that was not going well. But then I met someone from New York in Istanbul. I came here for a month to look around. For us. I just needed to get away. I always liked the idea of being a painter. 136 .began. There is a myth that if you are talented. it was normal. people assume that they work hard. They think it’s something you were born with. I wanted to go to Italy to learn. “Well. Then I moved out. I know it’s such a standard thing to say. For pianists. and one day we met at the court. Painters are a little sensitive about that. You have to have a lot of courage to do that. and they started pressing me saying things like “This is ridiculous. I wanted to live here. It was easier to leave Turkey because I also had a broken heart. but its true.” So I called him. because we both agreed to it. have new experiences. It’s been my passion since I was a child. It was easy. I should at least consider it. light and everything. So I quit my job in Turkey and came here to New York. It was too much for my parents. We dated other people. I’ve always been interested in observation. I wanted to study art. But for painters they don’t seem to assume that. He became my friend and said. I started to paint and draw and did pretty well. We didn’t even see each other or call anymore.” So. But in reality it is hard work. I wanted to learn about composition. because painting has been my passion for a long time. “New York is the best place for you to become an artist. I was blown away. I just couldn’t risk them having a heart attack. First. But it took me two more years to do so. You have to get divorced. We were like friends.
and she might be able to give you some idea of what to do.S. after ﬁve years of living in New York. You can do painting. It’s still a nonproﬁt organization. 137 . The entrance is very beautiful with an iron gate.and learn about what I really wanted. there are sculptures and paintings from old masters. and he said. sculpting or printmaking. It’s a 5-story building and more than a 100 years old. So. I am really happy about it. A lot of the old American masters went there. and across it is Carnegie Hall. artists would teach artists. And now I’m going back to that very person to marry him. who was subletting a room. When I came to New York. I told him that I had come here to study art. Artists themselves established it. All the sculptures are in the basement. She was a wise person.” So she introduced me to “The Art Students League. I already have a degree.” It’s one of the oldest art schools in the U. and artiﬁcial light studios on the other ﬂoors. and the Internet back then was not as common as today. She was in a wheel chair and was half-blind.A. But I was very lucky. She asked me. and you see all those old gas lamp holders.” We went to her place. “Do you want to have a degree or do you want to become an artist?” And I said. The second day after arriving I went to my friend’s house. I was in painting for four years. Next to it is a Hard Rock Café. I want to be an artist. There are natural light studios on the fourth ﬂoor. mosaics and a dome. I couldn’t find any information about special art colleges while still in Turkey. “I don’t care for a degree. I had neither an apartment nor any clue about where I would study. On the walls there are so many layers of paint. They provide 4-year programs. “My mother used to be an art teacher. When you ﬁrst enter the hallway. The ceilings are very high. I broke up with him right after I came here. It’s in a historic and very beautiful building on 57th street on Manhattan.
now you are going to hold the brush like this. I just had to jump in and start working as best as I could. walk into the building and take classes.and then I changed to sculptures for one year. Most of the paintings I did there are very dramatic. Besides all this. I would do anything to study. Mostly. and for my classes. and that’s really fun.” I was very nervous. I felt like an absolute beginner. I worked in several part-time jobs. I used those with artiﬁcial light. They have professional models in the studios. I’ve been carving wood and stone. the instructor comes. I was a telephone operator. and nobody would ask for recommendations and stuff like that. You can choose the studios where you want to work. But it must have been ﬁne. I was still suspicious if there was something wrong with that.” I had been painting before. 138 . I knew when he was going to be there. a registrar for the school. My ﬁrst classes were in the morning. Those rooms usually don’t have windows. Nobody said. The ﬁrst day I went there. I signed up for three classes right away. You can just go there. He lectures for an hour. Only after a few days I let him see my painting. You have one class every day from Monday to Friday. Painting classes are usually three and a half hours long. And they cast shadows on the models. but nobody seemed to care. It was a scary moment. There are lights hanging from the ceiling. and my last job was managing the cafeteria. I avoided the instructor. The ﬁrst day I thought. because I continued to study. The models stayed there in the same pose for weeks or even a month. Two of the ﬁve days. because they are right on the top of them and it’s very expressive. but I had never painted from a life model. “Ok. “What am I going to do with those models? I don’t even know how to mix paint. I had to pay my rent.
But to be able to draw what you see takes a lot of practice. “There is an ocean between an eye and the hand. That person was my reference. It was a miracle that I was accepted. because you can’t really draw a surface unless you know what’s underneath it and what supports it. I enjoyed it. It’s good to know about anatomy. It was the beginning of my new life. It was one big piece. He would teach us names of skeleton parts and muscles. I was quite happy to have my little own place that looked very bare. the more you can see. I wasn’t homesick for the ﬁrst two years. I was thrilled to be here. I still have a long way to go. and everything was fresh. I met so many people. I arrived in I-House with one suitcase. She knew a Turkish woman who was a very involved I-House resident. I jammed that into the revolving door at the Riverside entrance and I tried to revolve the door. There are like my two big families in New York.” The more you know. So the ﬁrst thing I did was change the curtains. I pressed and pushed and ﬁnally reached the desk. I had brought my own curtains from Turkey. You look at the hip and you know where the hipbone is. and they have helped me make big changes in my life.My instructor used to talk about the bone structure of a human body. but it did not work. so I was very late to apply for everything. paid my rent and got my keys. I’m strongly associated with both of them. I wasn’t as disappointed as many other residents were. I came here in October. the better you can paint. But I have really learned to see what’s in front of me. The more you see. I learned. When I saw my room. that ugly rose pattern. I knew about the International House from a friend. I-House 139 . I enjoyed those classes very much. and you have to keep on painting and painting every day. There are two very important organizations in my life: the Art Students League and the International House.
Some are under cultural shock. If you gave residents food from outside. I had several jobs at I-House as well. since the food in dining hall was not everybody’s favorite. on how comfortable you make people feel. Some people just can not bear the pressure from school. it’s only dormitory housing with one 140 . Some are extremely homesick. IHouse is a place of big happiness and sadness. I was surprised when I started to like Americans. they would come. I could never get so much out of I-House if I wasn’t involved like that. In the South house. It was also hard to balance how much you really wanted to make yourself available for $150 a month. I learned that I shouldn’t generalize. Before that. They had to change the law of domestic partnership. I had a great time. It also depends on the personality of the Resident Assistant. When I fell in love here for the second time. I would knock at people’s doors on my ﬂoor. I had a lot of stereotypes. It was good to ﬁsh residents out of their rooms. watch baseball and don’t know anything about the rest of the word. Most of my friends are Americans now. I was together with Tom for longer than a year.” I would organize monthly events for the ﬂoor like parties with food and movies. psychological. so that we could stay together. Most of the socializing usually would happen in the bathrooms. come to me. I didn’t have a dull moment. I was a Resident Assistant.has been a constant stimulation and learning experience for me. I’ve been very busy here. But it was fun. we made I-House history. and he’s American. because we lived on the same ﬂoor with them. “If you have any problems. Residents would come to me with a whole lot of problems. I thought all Americans eat junk food. introduce myself and say. I-House is actually two big houses that are connected. physical or just social problems.
The ﬁrst time that I met her. It was so very important for both of us. So. I had never felt love for a lesbian. We separated. I think I grew out of that satisfaction that comes with improving my technique. but I had never really acted on it before. and I was impressed and excited by her. there are studios and onebedroom apartments for couples without and with children. She is very outgoing and outspoken. I could stay in New York longer. We still enjoy each other’s company. I want to have my own studio and work as an artist on my own. It was a rough relationship because of our personalities. But in New York. She was also a Resident Assistant. I can’t either afford a studio nor could I work ofﬁcially as an artist. But they were intending to update the law and not let it be discriminatory. I worked so hard all those ﬁve years here in part-time 141 . I was confused. We organized the Thanksgiving dinner together.person per room. I’m less interested in that. In the beginning. There was no law on how to handle couples of the same sex. But I really don’t want to be a student anymore. I have a student visa for three more years. she was organizing the Canadian Cultural Hour. I knew of my ability to love women. I didn’t even think that I was in love with this woman. I just denied it. But it just didn’t work out. But I was strongly attracted to her. We had very happy moments together. It was not shocking to me. In North house. I lived with my AmericanCanadian girlfriend in a studio for one year. and we are friends. it made the process faster. when the woman that you are attracted to had already come out. That made a difference. We got sort of close. What happened was only natural. but then it was great. because I don’t have the right visa. and the emotions were there. Since we offered a case for them. First it wasn’t easy for me to accept intimacy. But we had great hopes that we could handle it.
Now we can talk about it. “Design your studio. but I have always wanted to be closer to nature. He is an architect. And there is this man waiting for me in Turkey. too. and we’ll see how we can do it.jobs to make a living. I have never lived in the countryside before. We plan to live there permanently. And there are my parents. but the idea is to have a base and live there. The place is right by the sea. but later on I want to have it separated. that there was much distraction from my artist work. I want to be near them. It matters to me that he made that decision. I’ve known him for eight years. and that’s the right thing to do. We had a lot of tension in the past. too. because we will live in such a small village.” I want to have a studio with windows and natural light. There is an ancient city next to us. although it’s his hometown. It should be about seven meters long. and he started to rebuild a house there. 142 . too. so that I can step back from my paintings to look at them. but not too much of it. So he said. We’ll live in a small village on the Aegean coast with less than a hundred people. He and I will not live in Istanbul. Life has not changed much over there since centuries. I’m their only child. He went there a year ago. so we could go for a few months to the city or travel around. My father is not so well. Except for that it doesn’t have a deeper meaning for me. We will have a home in Istanbul. There are other villages also on the hills. They’re carving those blocks of stone like people did 2500 years ago. yeah! It’s temporarily going to be a room in our house. We were both too stubborn and had very strong preferences about how we like things. A painter and an architect is a tough combination. We will get married. You can’t control natural light. a humble house made from stone. So I’ll have my own studio.
The composition is so broad. There is some beautiful light there. especially if you have never done it before. The light keeps changing constantly. I have decided to begin my life there by getting up early in the morning and painting. I’ll be very happy at my new home. It will be a challenge for me. I’m really excited about it. But I think I can do it. To paint landscape is very difficult. 143 . I think success is when you can enjoy every moment of your life. because that’s the place I want to be. because I’m not a morning person.I want to paint landscape.
and then we tried to calm him down. We were alone with him for the ﬁrst ten days. It has been such a stressful situation. I can’t sleep much. especially at the beginning. I just love my son so much. We had books to consult and friends to talk to. the ﬁrst three days we didn’t have clothes small enough for our baby. She showed us the basics. But we resolved everything because we talk to each other. We had some conﬂicts. He cried a lot and we didn’t know what to do. how to feed him. because both of us were just overworked and didn’t sleep and had this pressure. I remember. We have a 144 . He woke up every three hours or so and had to be fed. At the hospital we were pursuing the nurse to teach us how to change his diapers. we were completely clueless of what to do after he was born. Since our baby has taken it over.CHAPTER 10 Arpad—Romania: My Family Is My God My life changed absolutely completely and forever. Then Evelina’s mother arrived. it is like heaven and hell mixed together. So we kept changing and washing those few pieces that would ﬁt him. of course. but we just completely panicked when we saw that. how to hold him and how to bathe him. It’s very hard but I don’t mind because there is love. Evelina and I became the functions and the extensions of this little person. Since he is our ﬁrst baby and neither Evelina nor I had ever held a baby before. and then he cried. We have to be there for him every single minute of every day. but still we didn’t know much. Not ever since his birth. Once his navel started bleeding a little and that’s normal. and it was chaotic.
New Years Eve 2000. Then we called a cab and went to the hospital. I was in the delivery room the whole time. So we went for it. On the day of his birth. This happened around ﬁve in the afternoon.” So. Both of us were sure that we want to have children. Evelina was feeling a little funny for a while. so it was still very painful. It’s a lot of responsibility. 145 .” and I said. And then the pain started.” We knew that when the water breaks. It was at the Millennium night. At 9 pm the contractions were stronger and stronger and she got an epidural—pain medicine in her spine—but it didn’t fully work. Evelina came home. to sleep on or faint on. I’m not ready. so we expected something. I cannot be a father. We took a last picture of Evelina’s belly. She came out with a little test and showed it to me and I felt overwhelmed like. when a good friend asked us. it’s a sure sign that the woman is going to be in labor. I’m too young.” because we are running out of age—we were over 30. We had a little book with the list what to take to the hospital. “Ok. “What about kids? Have you talked about it yet?” And we said.dialogue going. the idea was born and we talked it over. if we want to have children. and were running around and put everything in a bag. Even faster than we thought it would. And so we both were happy and looking forward to see him in this world. “Oh. There was a special armchair for fathers. And then we started thinking: “Well. But we want it. It happened overnight.” I was scared of being a father. It felt like morning sickness. It took no time. We called the hospital immediately. Then it sank in and the joy cleaned my emotions. it should happen soon. she rushed through the door and said. this is it. and we are proud of this. I did not faint. “No. “I think my water broke. We went to a doctor.
She got dizzy and was sleeping a little and then the pain intensiﬁed again. People signed it and wrote nice things on it. the painkillers worked. friends get together and shower the 146 . Daniel. When it looked like it’s getting serious. It was just great. so fragile. so there was even more support than it would normally be. At 6:17 in the morning. I was not allowed to sleep at the hospital. A baby shower is an American custom. That was so cute. so small. Then the nurses went out and they left us alone for like two hours. “Welcome home Evelina and Arpi. When I came. They were monitoring her contractions and heart rate and the baby’s heart rate and sent it to a monitor in the control room. He came with the ﬁrst light of the day. being together there. so after my son was born. It’s very clever and pragmatic. He was blue. They put him on Evelina’s stomach. It was amazing to see this outpour of love for our baby and us. It was so disgusting. It’s not that common that a baby is born at I-House. But then the doctor cleaned his nostrils and mouth and they pushed all this stuff down his throat. Before the baby is born. purple and bloody and covered with this white stuff.After the third or second shot. the three of us now. I found at our door this big green poster saying. and then he started crying with a faint voice. Evelina did a fantastic job. That was such a moment! He was quiet and his eyes were closed. They realized our family was far away. The pushing stage was very short. He looked terrible. I came home to International House. It took her only seven minutes to bring him out. I was holding him. It was like holding a miracle. Some women push for hours and hours. or Danika as we call him. the nurses and the doctor came. The nurses bathed him.” That was so sweet. We had not only one but three baby showers. Our friends basically replaced our family in that situation. There were no complications. was born. He was so new in this world. Everything went ﬁne.
a stroller.” The ﬁrst reaction was joy and happiness. The ﬁrst two times we talked about it in the classroom. Evelina used to live here and came here ballroom dancing every Wednesday religiously. But sometimes she could not make it. We went to concerts and dancing in the pub and to ballroom dancing in I-House. I was in my masters course. And people have been telling us. but at the doctorate level already. In fact. Each of us just realized that we found the person. we called each other frequently and emailed a lot to each other. and so Evelina was asked to be my academic observer. Since we knew Evelina was pregnant. it is bad to give a gift to an unborn child. It helped us tremendously and I think it’s a great idea. “You are so brave to do this. You are students and you work at the same time. nursing chair. She was in the same program. Here it is the opposite.baby with practical gifts that you are going to need. but the third time we went out to a restaurant. there was an ecstatic reaction among our friends. That made 147 . So we met and discussed my lessons. We don’t have this in our culture. I had to teach as part of our practical training. there is never a good time to have children. After that.” But if you look from that perspective. and usually my professor would come to observe my teaching. “Wow. There. everybody was like. like a crib. it also gave me my wife. But ﬁrst we met at Teachers College at Columbia University. “You are insane because you are too busy to have a child. “THE ONE. I don’t remember anybody saying something like.” But I had a ﬁancée back home in Romania. it’s so great. clothes and toys. International House not only gave me wonderful friends from all over the world. and you don’t have much money and not much time. and we often met here. That happened three times. we had a good time together.” Instead.
My family came to the wedding by train. the ofﬁcial part of the wedding is very non-ceremonious. And we were constantly thinking on how I could come back to New York. boring and short. “Yes. I had the ring already prepared and the champagne and the music. In March she came to visit. She said. We had to meet. Evelina brought me to the airport and we thought that we would never meet again. I stayed in Romania. I had to leave New York and go back to my country. It was on the train from Bucharest to Kolozsvar. but back home I realized that I couldn’t do that. Evelina went back.” Then she met my family. Since we got engaged on the way to my hometown in Romania. It took a lot of pain and thinking to accept it. That’s when I asked her to marry me.” That was in February. I’d bought tickets for a private sleeping carriage. We got married in Bulgaria. we thought the wedding should be in her hometown in Soﬁa. It was an ofﬁcial wedding at one of the central marriage ofﬁces of Soﬁa. And she said. That’s local custom. and I ended that relationship.things very complicated. 148 . This obligation would make me—and by extension her—unhappy for the rest of our lives. In Romania. she helped me a lot since she was in New York and could talk to people. I applied from there to enroll in the doctoral program. It was a horrible day. I was determined to go back to the former relationship because I felt that I had the obligation towards the other woman. and since she’d already met my family. The only way possible was to continue with my studies. but I did. Her parents made the arrangements. But in Bulgaria they even had an orchestra! They had two crowns that they held over our heads. It took us three months to meet again. “Of course. I called Evelina and asked her if she would take me back. very gray. When I finished my masters program. Evelina came in June to marry me. and they had champagne glasses that were tied together with a ribbon. A month and a half after I left New York.
A. but I had no clue about the universities. It was like a church wedding. very smart and very sweet. and she translated everything. “You may kiss the bride. The only sentence she forgot to translate was.” So. everybody was staring at me and there was silence. and at what university?” And I was like. And we are still so sure.” And then of course I did it. we ﬂew back together to New York. That’s why I didn’t have a feeling that the wedding wasn’t a big deal. She was standing next to me. Evelina applied for a studio apartment and we got it. She was a Bulgarian living in England. The most. And I didn’t know what was going on. and he said “Columbia University. The matron of honor was a very lucky choice. I wanted to get a masters degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages. After we got married. We both knew for sure that we were meant for each other. The ﬁrst time I came to NY was with a Fulbright scholarship I had applied for in Romania. smiled and whispered. There were very few people who got it in Romania. because it was a nice and beautiful ceremony. at this point of the ceremony. She is very beautiful. But I got it and it was a one-year program. “You may kiss the bride. I called a friend who knew better. I got it and it was very surprising to me. It just felt right. And I carried my wife over the threshold of our new home. And everything was in Bulgarian.” So.The person of the ceremony was nicely dressed and made a little speech. I chose my wife because I love her. 149 . We moved into International House together.S. so it was complicated. It was funny because I had to ﬁll out the forms and there was a question. After a few seconds. I want to study in New York. and I was also a Hungarian in Romania. “Where do you want study in the U. where we both used to live as single people in single rooms. and she was holding my arm. Evelina looked up at me. I got to be a student at one of the best universities in one of the most exiting cities of the world.
speaking section. preferably at a very good university like Columbia. make-ups. Columbia University. To prepare a course in English teaching on a high academic level is very different from teaching English. We didn’t know how much work it is. Every chapter is on a certain topic. that’s a doctor of education in applied linguistics at Teachers College. because with teaching we could make more of it. We are not doing it for the money. body art. We read it and then we have to write the grammar section. Evelina and I we are writing an English textbook together. How could I? It’s taking my life over at this point. Researchers go out and assemble an information packet on every topic and send them to us. because it’s twelve chapters.And now I’m a doctoral student. I just ﬁnished a chapter that is on beauty. You write a book. We are doing it for the glory. I want to see if I can do it. I don’t know what makes me so ambitious. I’m getting my EdD. It carries a lot of prestige. I have several jobs. your name is going to be on a cover. and it is a challenge. It’s such a beautiful opportunity for our careers. and philosophical approaches to beauty. The 150 . when we accepted the project. I’m also the coordinator of a language school at Teachers College. My parents both had full time jobs. listening and writing section and reading section. I do court interpreting. Maybe I’m trying to compensate for the fact I’m coming from a working class family. That could be a reason. I’m teaching English as a second language at the Riverside Language Program to immigrants mostly from Latin America. It’s something! Later I want to work as a university professor. Also. It covers things like plastic surgery. Besides this. And this happens twelve times. And I almost forgot about the book. My father was working at a local factory that was manufacturing bathroom equipment like tiles and sinks.
He has retired recently and he told me that he would have been out of the job anyway because they renewed the factory. we could get food without standing in line for the basics like meat. We had little money. Whenever they got the salary. sugar and ﬂour. It was lucky that my mother was working there. There were six of us in the family. He also was a mason and a tile layer. He would talk about his work to my mom mostly. although my parents both worked so hard. keeping track of money. They no longer have those kinds of ovens he specialized in. Our country was totally messed up. It was never enough. I remember the rations. That way. So they all worked in extreme conditions. my mother would sit down and count the money and distribute it like this much for rent. oil. They had to ﬁx the oven really quickly. my parents. I remember very distinctly. I helped him. I think he liked that. As I was growing up it became harder and harder to get food anyway. I had to write it down. this much for food. Often he took a nap afterwards. in a heat of 100°C. We got tickets for certain amount of every food. He always went to work at six in the morning and came back at three in the afternoon. and they didn’t have time to wait until it cooled off. He is very meticulous and he always knew what he was doing. I saw him to put on tiles at our apartment. my two sisters and my grandmother. and my father was on the maintenance team for these ovens. Sometimes they had an emergency at the factory. It’s electronic and modern now and much faster. My mother worked as a sales clerk in a food store. First we lived in a 2-bedroom 151 . my grandmother would go with me to the market. We came home and she dictated me what she bought and how much it cost. I’m still doing that kind of thing.workers used to burn these products in huge ovens.
the Hungarian children. But I could never do that. Even in kindergarten I remember we were ﬁghting the Romanian children. as the library grew under my supervision we had to mount extra shelves on the wall. The school at the ﬁrst place where we lived was very close to us. It was very small. My parents had the living room. We lived there until I was twelve. I got the ﬁrst desk that my family ever bought. and there was another room for my older sister and me.apartment. and then we moved to another of those typical ugly concrete buildings. He improvised it. I came back around one o’clock. My grandmother always had the youngest child in her room. My grandmother would wake us up and fix us breakfast. We played cops and robbers. you just were supposed to ﬁght the other group because they were different. my room had the family library. My father made those shelves. boys chasing each other around with toy guns and shooting at each other. We usually went to school in the morning. There was no reason. at eight o’clock. only five minutes away. but you went home and had dinner. My parents didn’t really help me with homework. I know some kids did their homework after they got home from school. but it still looks very nice. I put a poster of the Beatles on my wall as a teenager. In the evening my mother would call out from the window. which was not very big. Or we played hide and seek. It was very hard to stop playing. There was a big playground and I had a lot of friends. had lunch and went to play. you know. since 152 . I always did the homework for the next day after playing at least for a while. Homework had to ﬁt in there somewhere. In my hometown there are 80% Romanians and 20% Hungarians. we. Also. “Come home!” The window was directly looking at the playground. In the new apartment I had my own room. I played more often with Hungarian than with Romanian children. Later.
If you know about Catholicism. It was a small church. She wanted to be a nun. She would do anything for us. We became friends with the priest and I served as an altar boy. My grandmother was a very good cook. did my mother take over cooking. because before we have been sending pictures and videotapes. She is sitting on a chair in her brown gown. rings the bell and reads the scripture for the community. This summer we visited both our families in Romania and Bulgaria. stew or the soups she was making. my wife and my little son. They were as excited as we were when he was born. I never had to cook. She was the most unselﬁsh woman I’ve ever known. which was lucky for us. My family is my God now. tomato soup or cabbage soup. She has very kind features. there is a little helper during the mass that hands the priest whatever he needs. I’m standing next to her. because it’s a very hard life and she wouldn’t do well. I remember lots of her dishes like spinach. That was her profession. I stopped going to church. It was usually my grandmother who cooked. They said they had certain standards. I did it and it was a nice experience.I usually didn’t have problems with it. I was a pretty smart cookie. She was an angel. She was a devoted catholic and she would take me to church every Sunday. She always put us before herself. The reactions were overwhelming. When I grew up I kind of lost my faith. She could make very good things out of very little. calm and kind. She is hugging me. It was 153 . Only after she died. I can still see my grandmother. potato soup. We stayed three weeks with each of them. Everybody loved him. He is the ﬁrst grandchild for both sets of grandparents. But they didn’t take her into the order because her health wasn’t good enough. She used to cook at a kindergarten until she retired. and it was the ﬁrst time they saw our baby live. I still don’t know how to do it.
we called and both grandparents said. He is the cutest baby ever. but the economy is still in a very bad shape. When we were back in New York. and she is teaching almost day and night to be able to support herself. We would love to live closer to our families. In Romania now. It will teach him more about life. He has six teeth. to have kids to rely on. ﬁrst I want to ﬁnish my doctorate here. there is always the danger that you spoil him or her. The population is struggling. about sharing. we 154 . He smiles to anybody if he is in a good mood. It is an open question. and his smile is just beautiful. We have a decent life at least. the prospects are not good at all. Here in the States the teachers are not much paid either. When he cries. takes everything he can reach. I’m not excluding the fact that we all go home. Even if there is less stability and you can lose your job very easily and there is inﬂation. Still. My sister is a teacher. you are free to say whatever you want. There is no question about having more kids. My son is now ten months old.” This is very complicated situation. We miss him so much. two on the bottom and four on the top. I deﬁnitely think it’s better this way than the old way.’ We can afford things here. The leaders of the country haven’t been doing a good job. He can cry loudly. But it’s a different level of being ‘not well paid. If you have only one child. pulls it down. Then. examines it and chews it. Here there are so many more academic opportunities. “The house is so empty without him.a lot of joy. It is much better than living in a dictatorship. So. We are planning to have at least one more because Danika should have brothers and sisters. I don’t know. It’s a democratic country. We can travel from time to time and experience different things. And it’s nicer to have a bigger family when you get older. He crawls around on all fours. Also.
” I guess. He started to talk. we have a pretty good knowledge of what’s happening. “Da dada.know there is a problem. Now. he said. sometimes not. Sometimes it’s easy to ﬁgure it out. Recently. that means ‘daddy.’ 155 .
When I got here. What?” Somehow I managed to sign all the papers. and paid the rent and deposit right away. He spoke so fast. I was beaten and only wanted to sleep. My new life makes me extremely tired and sleeping is very helpful. When I saw my new home I was shocked like. She brought me to International House. since there is a 12hour time difference. I don’t feel guilty. She came from Canada to see me again after seven months of separation. I had to interrupt him. and ever since I sleep a lot. and his body has this instinct to always fall asleep when he has too much pressure or when he doesn’t like reality. so I asked. My girlfriend picked me up at the airport. I have an I-House card with me smiling on it. “Oh my God! So much money for such a small room!” I fell asleep. I should write a story about it and shoot a short ﬁlm. The worst part was that picture they took of me in the ofﬁce next to the front desk. it was the ﬁrst time I had left China. There was a doorman and he didn’t talk to me like to a foreigner. 156 . but back home it was already Saturday morning. I’m sorry.CHAPTER 11 Xu Ke—China: I Believe in Friendship When I came to the United States. It was like a movie when I ﬂew over the Paciﬁc and then saw the coast of America. I got my keys and was allowed to pass a second door. Once I woke up and I had an idea—there is a man. My face looked really awful because I was extremely tired. “Can we do it again?” Now. After paying. I had to stop at the Riverside entrance with all my heavy luggage. “Pardon. I arrived in New York on a Friday afternoon.
Later. but he is a crazy soccer fan! He knows about every World Cup game. and I was surprised and said to him. In Romania. he wanted to go to the best ﬁlm school ever. he spent thirty thousand dollars to study here and then he wants to play soccer!” Only Bogdan said.” And I asked. “Is there any place where I can play soccer?” And everybody stared at me thinking. “Uh. you’re so very beautiful?” I believe in friendship. Everything was different from home: the junk food. Since I talked to her in Chinese. but in Romania there is only one ﬁlm school. we became friends with a musician from Taiwan who lives on my ﬂoor. In the whole world!” He’s crazy about ﬁlm. “No. “You are so young and they would listen to you?” He replied. For me. and it’s not good. When he was 18. and all the conversations in accented English. “How is this professor or how is this class?” Then it was my turn and I asked. and I’m crazy about ﬁlm. even back to 1982. “I play soccer. He didn’t know anyone. So did I. Recently Bogdan said to me. too. and the ﬁrst thing he asked her was. There was a second year film student who answered all the newcomers’ questions like.The ﬁrst person I became friends with in New York was Bogdan from Romania. We talked a lot. the tiny rooms we lived in. He had a total cultural shock. judges and policemen. So he went to law school. The ﬁrst day I met him. he was very depressed because he had just got into New York two days before. playing soccer is great relaxation. “In America?” Then he said. the extremely high cost of everything. and that’s why most of his friends are lawyers. they trust me. which has a good place where we could play together. and I live in International House. everyday I 157 . “You’re my best friend.” So we did. Bogdan wanted to learn it as well. “How can I say. “Of course. He did some divorce cases. I met him at the orientation session at Columbia University. often with the help of our hands.
would wear a suit and tie. and it happened to be in my hometown. so they feel better and safer. although we are from very different parts of the world. He fought for a visa and he took a horrendous loan to pay for his dream to come true. She went there for a year to learn about Chinese culture and teach English. the two of us have a lot of things in common. I was a student in one of her small classes. or should I let it be? It was a choice. and I thought the Chinese did not know how. Should I be with her temporarily and enjoy that time. So. and I had already worked in the Chinese ﬁlm business. and very sharp in thinking. I studied engineering before going to a school where many famous Chinese actors like Gong Li studied. the kind of woman that most Chinese men don’t like. She worked at a private language school run by South Koreans. I worked very hard on my English because I wanted to change my life. So I was her best student and we could communicate in English. First of all. So he applied to Columbia. I also fought hard to get a visa to come to New York. with only eight people. I didn’t approach her ﬁrst because I was confused.” Although he already was established. They like women to rely on men. you play soccer quite well. Then I was shocked because you have enough private money to pay the tuition fee to study here. you’re constantly surprising me. one of the best schools in the world. She told me that ﬁrst of all she was impressed by the 158 . he still wanted to study ﬁlm really badly. She is beautiful. I had short hair and I looked very serious. I was in a dilemma. And you have a Western girlfriend!” I met her in China. She’s a very independent person. From the moment I ﬁrst saw her I liked her. Once Bogdan said: “Xu Ke. because it’s an expensive school. I knew she was about to leave China.
say it please. so I showed her the way. but she would never have started something with a student. I thought I would rather meet a woman who was not really interesting. I could see it in their eyes. it’s just like ﬁlm.way I dressed. She thought. there was no way for me to continue my studies.” And I said. I looked at the people around us. she took those socks with her. During classes I liked her more and more. They saw us as belonging to each other. This guy must be an individual. “You are emotionally dangerous for me. That feeling was very precious. I knew where it was. “Sadness cannot be shared. and she said. I learned the most from the women in my life.” Later. “Oh. But I missed her. I felt very sorry for her. Then my program ﬁnished and since it was already at the advanced level. because before I’d had some painful experiences with love. and so I went back to school within one week of my graduation. You know. A month later. so I could be 159 .” She had already booked her ticket and was going to leave China. I wanted to hold her forever. I wrote her a card in my broken English. “We should go and have lunch together. she needed to go to the bathroom. And they were right. We had to cross the whole bar.” That’s when I told her. “Yes. but there were always reasons to make love tough and ﬁnally impossible. She was so far from her country when she got that terrible message.” And I gave it to her after she came back to China. while we were in a nice bar with some of my friends. If there’s anything I can do. because this blue is really bright. For example.” She laughed and said. One day she got a call that her mother had died. She went back to Canada immediately. “It’s the same with you. and nobody wears anything like that in China. It was so hurtful that I didn’t want to try it again. We walked hand in hand and it just felt so natural. I wore sandals with blue socks in winter. and it was all too late to see her mother again to say good-bye.
As she was reading it she said. My girlfriend is not that type of boring girl. She edited all my stuff and coached me for the visa interview.with her.” I never forced her. I touched it. But ﬁnally. I had been waiting for it for so long. I hoped it would not be a decline letter. pressed it and tried to guess what’s in there. there is still a possibility for me to come back because I like China. I was afraid. At that moment. But when I held her hand in that bar. she said: “Maybe we can be together even if I go back to Canada. Finally.S. “I think I got it!” I gave the letter to my sister because her English was better than mine. I thought. I just read the ﬁrst page. getting a visa is like being the 160 . and afterwards she went back to Canada to work. I opened it. Without her I wouldn’t be in New York. I opened the door and said. “It’s not a decline letter.” It was really exciting. “This time. I never asked her to stay. If it doesn’t work out. You could come and study there or in the U. I could make it. the ﬁrst three lines were like. Decline letters are on thin paper. The mail from America to China usually takes fourteen days. She helped me a lot to apply for Columbia and other universities. Her major was English literature.” So we got to know each other. So I thought that maybe they sent back all my material. you are admitted to Columbia. I was waiting for letters from the universities I had applied for. “Yes. This was going to be even more difﬁcult than being accepted at one of the best ﬁlm schools. In China. “It’s my pleasure to inform you. at least I would be ﬁne and not be devastated. And I thought. and then when she would leave.” I wanted to make sure and I ran to my family’s house. One day I got a very thick envelope from America. I did not want to open it.” or something like that. and I could go there. It was so thick. The next step was to get a visa. and sometimes much longer.
passport. and there is no way to get a scholarship. You can’t talk face to face. You use microphones. There is a small slot in the window like at a bank. First you have to apply for a visa. If you’re not good enough. so there was a reason. “Next person please. So I was a suspicious person from the perspective of a visa ofﬁcer because of the question: How was I going to pay for my studies? I prepared myself very well and practiced with my American friends. If you are good enough. You can be refused in no time. I had the offer from Columbia. resume. You stand on the other side of the window.winner of a lottery. the ofﬁcers check two major things: First. you must speak English with the ofﬁcers. Besides your English. and the visa ofﬁcers sit behind it. 161 . it costs thirty thousand dollars for the ﬁrst year. If you apply for a student visa. and there you slip your formal documents like acceptance letters. and my girlfriend. “Why do I want to study in America? Do I really want to go back to China?” I was very sincere. I could look at any visa ofﬁcer and honestly answer the questions because I had nothing to hide. and she quickly declined four of them. you can get a scholarship for the second year. About six hundred people are interviewed at the embassy in Beijing every day. so they routinely say. And then you go to an interview at an American embassy. The last one before me was a girl. I really thought it over. and bank statement.” almost every thirty seconds. you get declined. There is a bullet-proof window. are you really going to come back to China after studying in America? And second: Do you have enough ﬁnancial ability or support to study in America? If you study ﬁlm at Columbia. Five people were standing in front of me. For the ofﬁcers it’s a huge pressure and they have to work efﬁciently. My visa ofﬁcer was very tough.
”Hold on a second!” I took the paper. She got her visa. Suddenly. left the ofﬁcer and all those people behind me. like a drama. But it wouldn’t get through. So I walked up the step and said very nicely. that’s too bad. It was too thick. and she said. I smiled. His school still exists. My dad went there because it was free and his family was poor. “Thank you so much!” When I got back to my ofﬁcer. and ﬁnally I got my ﬁle through the slot. I asked the visa ofﬁcer. It’s a pretty good school. So. Suddenly. “Is this from the girl before me?” And she said.” It’s really great. as a nice person that would help others and wouldn’t lie. My parents are really generous.” It was really embarrassing. we will try our best to support you. “If you want study. In China. I ran to ﬁnd the girl and gave her back this important document. “I will only give you money for marriage. a certiﬁcate that didn’t belong to me. I pushed and pushed but it didn’t work. I tried to make the ofﬁcer notice me.” Instead they say. And I thought. We talked about thirty minutes instead of thirty seconds. “Oh. He graduated from an art school run by the army. I’m studying very hard and my professors think that I’m really talented. And I got my visa. theater and music. there are lots of army troops. I noticed that there was a piece of paper next to the slot. and they are entertained by ﬁlm. she viewed me as a person.I heard that she had won a scholarship to Harvard University. They’ve never said to my sister or me. “Good morning. My action had changed the relationship between the ofﬁcer and me.” And I said. My father is a very successful artist. They gave me the money to pay for the ﬁrst year at Columbia. It limited my chances. 162 . Then it was my turn. “Oh.” and I put my stuff in the slot. for the second year it seems that I can get a scholarship. yes. My parents are special. It was like ﬁlm.
When they were about 20. Mao was the founder of the Chinese Republic and the major leader of the Cultural Revolution. they escaped a very poor life there and came to Tianjin. “Oh. the leaders of China blamed people for not being good citizens. When someone told her a sad story that happened to a family. My father’s mother was a very interesting person. My father’s parents belonged to the working class. now we don’t have money left for the next dinner!” She was that kind of person. there was silence in the factory. “Long life to chairman Mao. strong and big—really big. From a neighbor my grandma heard that something was going on. And short life to capitalists.” And some people just messed it up like. for not being good Maoists. They raised six daughters and two sons. My grandma took her daughter’s hand and brought her home. Mostly there was no reason to blame the defendants. And only after that she would realize. she rushed to the factory and put herself in the middle of hundreds of people that were criticizing my aunt and she shouted. Every morning you’d say. “Who dares to say something wrong about my daughter?” After that. this is terrible.His parents grew up in a village in the north of China. Immediately. today the third biggest city in China. She had a good heart. “Short life to chairman Mao. but they used it as a political instrument to suppress the whole population. 163 . “Oh. tall. One day they put my aunt on trial for no reason. she would say.” and she would give all her money to them. and she could drink a lot.” And these people were put in the prison. She used to drink Chinese wine that has ﬁfty percent alcohol. During the Cultural Revolution. They didn’t have much to begin with. One of my aunts worked in a watch factory. I remember her laughing loudly and singing Beijing Opera.
and she worked as a computer operator. They refused to keep on helping China to develop missiles and satellites. Then another political group took charge of power. It’s like a small secret city. concert hall. My mother was a good singer. about how to organize people from very different backgrounds and how to bring out the artist in them. He was 23 and got work in an army base in the north of China. China desperately needed technical experts in computers. There was a projectionist. bank. 164 . At least. he and other students were accused of being a part of a conspiracy against the current leaders. The rest of the team they had to pick out from the regular army troops. houses. My father was put in prison for six months. He worked there for eight years and he did everything. He was the head of the art troupe. and he got his freedom back. and that’s how she met my father. supermarket.My dad had serious problems during the Cultural Revolution. He had a high rank. He wasn’t treated too badly. He and two other people were the only professionals in that troupe. My dad learned a lot about leadership. he was fed. It was very amusing. because there were a lot of different movements and their power changed quickly. he acted and directed. and besides the movies he also played violin. My mother went to the army base after she graduated from high school. So my mother was trained. like most Chinese. kindergarten. Everything is there. theater and cinema. because at that time China didn’t get along with Russia anymore and all those Russian experts were expelled from China. It was almost impossible to always be on the right side. But he could only play well with his violin pressed against the wall. They choose the most talented and trained them. When my dad graduated from army school. He wrote plays.
He’s on the wrong side. So my mother thought it over. He decided to go back to Tianjin. Her grandmother was born in a very well established and rich family in the beginning of the 20th century in Kaifeng. where his parents lived. maybe you’ll not be allowed to be a member of the Communist Party. not just in the army. To be in the communist party was extremely important.When she met my dad. As a woman she had no access to a university. And then he became famous as a playwright.” This was a very serious threat. And that’s why I’m here. So. And she decided to be with my dad. “We promise to work hard to achieve communism. but at that time it was very rare in China for a woman to do that. Now he is recognized in China as a novelist as well. we left the army base because my father knew that was not what he wanted to do forever. If you start a relationship with him. but anywhere. That was about 1980. future wives and husbands had to write each other standard letters before getting married. My mother’s family history is pure drama. He wrote a lot of plays and poetry. I’m so glad my mother made that decision. and my mother’s supervisor said to her. “He’s a very dangerous person. It was your future. That’s the reason. She wanted to study. The ﬁrst line was. so she had private teachers. China had already changed a lot by then. Back then. in the mid ’80s he started to direct TV series. documentaries. He told me that he worked very hard. the political climate had changed again.” The last sentence was. and he started writing novels. When I was three. because one of his plays won the National Award. He got a job at a very good theater. there was no way for you to have any kind of promotion. and she 165 .” They got married. If you didn’t join. She loved him. “I greet chairman Mao and wish him a long life. It gave artists much more freedom to express themselves the way they wanted to.
but ﬁnally she could beat any woman. they moved to Xian. but then he got stuck again. It was the capital of China for a long time. for her. life was a total disaster. So. It was a nightmare. a very old and now famous tourist city. They looked down on her. but in 1937 the Japanese invaded China. She had problems communicating with the village people. She told me that she decided to be the best woman in this village. She had no relatives to talk to. but in her heart she was very lonely. And there they both worked as farmers in the fields. you need to go there! 166 . they went to his birthplace in a very small village. because the families were afraid of them being raped. After the war in 1949. She was used to delicious meals and cultural events like opera in her hometown. And all the Chinese girls that were eighteen or so got married to have a protector. She was a very good student. And my grandpa had a bad temper. She was into languages and focused on Chinese calligraphy. She learned how to read and transcribe Chinese ancient books with poetry that are thousands of years old. and she earned their respect very quickly. It became a good place to hide. she had a fragile body and was very sensitive. Imagine. She got along with them. and it’s much older than Beijing. She worked so hard. because she didn’t know how to do basic things like organizing the household. who had just graduated from military school.hid them in her comfortable huge home. because she was very pretty and from the city. After the ceremony. She learned everything. If you go to China. The other women were jealous of her. because he had gone to school to escape the village and to become someone. But my grandmother was totally not used to labor work and that kind of life. My grandmother quit her studies and married my grandfather. He was running from the army because he didn’t want to kill in this terrible war.
We realized that maybe for her it’s just a huge pain. My grandma said. Maybe she’s still afraid. those crazy people would have executed her for being a member of an intellectual. “I look at those characters and they’re like my old friends. and I’m going to take a class. she watches TV everyday.” We found out that she is the heir of some nice houses in her hometown. not even her best friends or her neighbors. Now the government says clearly that the Cultural Revolution was wrong. It was called the Eliminating Illiteracy Movement. But my grandma doesn’t want to talk about that at all. she totally had to deny where she came from. They had ﬁve kids. There was no rest for her. But she doesn’t want them back. For decades. and especially the Beijing Opera. and she went to bed an hour after midnight. There’re subtitles and she reads them. Everyday she got up at ﬁve. After the 80’s. but I cannot remember their names. It totally changed her ﬁgure and her temper. We tried to persuade her to do so because it would be worth a lot. They sold vegetables and groceries.” So she did. She would hold a newspaper the wrong way round just to show that she couldn’t read. 167 . Every time I visit my grandparents. and especially for hiding it. But China has changed a lot. And now. All they knew was that she was from a small village. and so we don’t push her anymore. there was a strong political movement that wanted to teach all Chinese how to write and read. And that it would be totally legal to demand them back. capitalist family. And she told me. I know that I knew them. After 1949. and life again was a daily struggle. During the Cultural Revolution. it changed. Nobody knew about her past life.My grandma worked in a market together with my grandpa. I understand more about life. My grandma additionally took three other jobs to support her family. “I don’t know how to read and write.
And of course I have to balance myself as a director. I have passion. He’s a very nice person and does not have a bad temper at all anymore. “Oh. so I have to balance everybody in my team. My grandpa is still with her. Film is collaborative art. directors and producers. and she looked at it and said. She never visits her children. She’s nice. engaging in something. and immediately go back upstairs. only if you get married I’ll leave my home and come to celebrate. She is always very happy to see us. The professors gave us a speciﬁc requirement: Take two characters.From my parents’ home to theirs’. She told me. “Xu Ke. but he has no problems with life. and B comes in and does something. She wants to ﬁnd a job to earn some money. He’s half deaf. like. He takes it as it comes and he is very relaxed.” I showed her my girlfriend’s picture.” My girlfriend studied political science. The last ﬁlm I did was a very short one for Columbia. I hate politics. A and B. We students are our own screenwriters. From the beginning we’ve been working on ﬁlms. it’s thirty hours by train or three hours by plane. I like her. and especially to talk to me and tell me all the stories. It’s very difﬁcult. cinematographers. So. hopefully we’ll be together soon. which is very important in order to become a good director. but I have to be reasonable. She only wants to go downstairs. My grandmother never wants to leave her home. and I was surprised that I fell in love with a girl that likes it. A is in a room. but extremely challenging. because that is the traditional time for families to reunite. We visit them every year after the Chinese spring festival. I have imagination. look around. either attracts or repels 168 . Columbia Film School is very demanding. and then she wants to enroll in the journalism program at Columbia University. Her plan is to move from Montreal to New York. So we learn about the whole process of ﬁlm making. but I need to be realistic.
It’s a beautiful ﬂoor made of black and white tiles. and immediately she feels very comfortable and pleasant. But then her lollipop drops on the ﬂoor.” At that time he ﬁnds her. She is like a child. He stands up. Meanwhile. stares at him and leaves the room. I shot it in International House. He’s going to leave.” The version of the ﬁlm is very different from the story I just told.” A girl represents character A. My ﬁrst take is an image of the ﬂoor in the mailroom. Character B is a guy who’s crazy about porn magazines. come on the screen. The magazine is called. At this precise moment the guy comes in. because for her candy is everything. In his mailbox he gets the latest magazine and he’s very excited. Finally A or B leaves the room. So. He unwraps it and puts it in his mouth. The girl takes another candy in her mouth. which she lost before. ﬁrst you see the ﬂoor. so she gives up her effort to get that candy. the guy is disappointed. Also. She is happy. He wants her to leave so he can have some privacy. So she takes all of her stuff. He tries to annoy her and gets very close to her. Neither talking nor music was allowed. and she looks at him and is embarrassed. “This is the right place to read. but at his moment he ﬁnds the lollipop. because she’s under the table. and I kept moving my camera and this 169 . She is crazy about candy and eats it all the time. The guy gets frustrated. The guy takes her seat with the lollipop in his mouth and takes his magazine out. He decides. of Character B. “Lollipop. She climbs down to ﬁnd it. He needs to ﬁnd a place to read it secretly. but this guy puts his chair next to her. It’s such a magic building with a lot of space and hidden corners. Then the feet of the guy. That totally annoys the girl because it’s her last lollipop. He doesn’t immediately see the girl. the girl is eating sweets in a public room.A. She moves away from him. I wrote the script and called my little ﬁlm “Sweet.
there will be always stories to tell. He takes a magazine out. I shot him from behind as he walks uphill. After. I frame his face and I spin my camera in the mailroom. “Because you have been waiting for this magazine so long. art and therefore ﬁlm is part of life. For me. Life is not static. Bogdan asked me. First the screen is dark. Next shot: He looks at it. His face comes back to the screen and he crouches down to open his mailbox.” That’s why I love ﬁlm. I asked him to wear a striped T-shirt in order to have a good contrast with the ﬂoor. “Why do I have to jump?” I said. I only need to look at life very deeply. Then you get to see his keys in his hand. It’s a different way to tell a story. and this is the corridor that leads you to the porn world. the light is like a weird yellow. It’s a very cool shot. And I raise my camera. It’s all there. we changed the location and went to the sloping corridor between the A-ﬂoor and B-ﬂoor. until he opens the box and there’s light on his face. The next take is from the other side of the mailbox. As he stops and looks off screen. My friend Bogdan played the guy. And so. 170 .guy is moving at the same time. and now you can see his legs. As he walked uphill I asked him to walk very fast and in the middle of the slope to jump with the magazine in his hand. It’s all in pictures. but you can’t see the title. Before shooting. and it gets into my mind. It’s changing constantly.
I didn’t understand a word of what they were talking about. My ﬁrst case was of an eight-year-old abused girl. I was about six years old. I felt that something full of energy was going on. I enjoy a working mind. Yeah.CHAPTER 12 Juliana—Argentina: The Sky Is Not the Limit I love intelligence. the scientists. I knew that I wanted to go abroad to continue my studies. I cried every single day. But I was captivated by the sense of creation. These kids had no clean drinking water. So I studied hard. and they would ask me if I was bored. Well. Many of the times. I got to see reality. raped kids. in our living room and talk. and he would meet with his friends. and worked alongside as a school therapist in a hospital. when I went home from the hospital. nothing! I thought that everybody was good and nice. only thinking of it makes me get goose bumps right now! Since I started studying at the university in my hometown Buenos Aires. and that was a very good training. But that was different. Uh. I was a happy girl. I went there only once a year. My father is a bacteriologist. to bring the kids some things. The ﬁrst three months. nor proper clothing or shoes. in my family it was very important to help the poor people. I guess that’s where my interest in giftedness comes from. I was simply not used to that. My childhood couldn’t have been better. So I went to the poor areas of Argentina. and it began when I was very young. 171 . I would sit there. beaten women and destroyed families. I also knew that I had to graduate with the honors diploma in order to get a scholarship. Nothing ever worried me. because I would stay for hours.
but at least I could change a little bit. One day a single mother came to our little improvised afternoon-school with her nine-year-old son. I would hold him. But he knew a lot about dinosaurs. she had no clue if she was right. There was this aggressive little boy. but not in giftedness in particular. The thing was that I had training in school psychology. Imagine. The boy was aggressive. whenever he traveled to his conferences worldwide. and just didn’t want to show it. The teachers didn’t believe he was gifted because he did not write. That was something that he had never experienced before. “My son is a monster!” This little guy had already been kicked out of seven schools. there wasn’t a single proper program or school for gifted children in all of Argentina! So we had to start from the beginning. His mother and him spent whole weekends. Through reading. The mother cried so hard. All I knew was from books my father would bring me. I realized that I couldn’t change everything. But I continued. I showed him that even though he really misbehaved. My mother even told me that I did not need to do it anymore. We told him how much they weighed—so he had to think of how much meat they would eat. This was the math part. I knew it’s very hard to move gifted children from their interest. He only was bored. and so on. But he could write. In her desperation she said. So we made him measure and compare dinosaurs out of books.In the hospital. I found my direction in treating giftedness. and I took it really seriously. I also worked on a project to create a school for gifted children. He knew everything. digging to ﬁnd dinosaurs instead of 172 . I thought I had the opportunity to help others. She said that though she thought her son was bright. and I worked a lot with the parents. I would see suffering every day. At that time. He compared tactics of attacks of different dinosaurs.
“Since you’re so bright. I went to his ofﬁce. I had my honors diploma.” After that. I was optimistic about getting a scholarship to study abroad. I asked his teachers to challenge him. I had no clue when he was going to come to his ofﬁce and nobody could tell me.being with cousins. “I’m sorry but you can’t be 173 . because he used to come very infrequently. It was extremely hot. he was always talking about education and how important it is. So I hid in the basement of his ofﬁce building. but I only met with his secretary. how come you only want to be a school psychologist? You should be an engineer.” Then. On the ﬁrst day. I applied everywhere. one of the security guards came to me and told me to identify myself. I sent him like twenty resumes. I told him that I was waiting for someone. I wore a black suit. But when I showed my curriculum to a woman in the ministry of education. but he never responded. People weren’t ready to understand. So. But the topic of giftedness seemed to touch something. By the time I graduated from University. My last hope was a really famous journalist in Buenos Aires. and they accepted me! Columbia is number one in education at least in America. and I was not supposed to be standing there. everywhere. she said. “You have great credentials. and he said. and she’d shaken me off. I remember I was stuck inside what would be a glass room with all the elevators on one side. That’s how we worked. But still I couldn’t ﬁnd a single person in Argentina that would give me money to study there. Everybody would tell me the same. and I had work experience at one of the best hospitals you can get into in Argentina. I applied to Columbia University in New York. and it’s an honor to get accepted. In my desperation. but the topic you’ve chosen is not good. In his radio shows. I decided to wait for him. and only one door that was connected to the parking lot. I knew he would come by car because he lived far away.
Then Columbia gave me a scholarship. I was waiting for you. He decided all this without even asking me! I couldn’t believe it. and I got money to study at Columbia. I was extremely nervous. I would not either. So I did my ﬁrst semester in New York. came .” From then on. whenever he came on his walks. . So I started all over again. I had planned to get married in Argentina. He listened to me and he promised to help me. Then I told him. The other guy was nice. he said. but I will let you wait here. and I knew that I had only one minute and a half to convince him to help me. after standing for ﬁve hours near the elevator. He had applied to Columbia and to Harvard. I did my masters. I realized that the guy I had been with for nine years was not the guy that I wanted to be with 174 . And now I’m doing a doctorate. and when I told him why I was there.” He got scared. He put me in contact with the chairman of one bank in Argentina. He decided that since he was not going abroad. I’m the first woman in my family doing something like this. “Don’t ever give my name. But then he was not accepted at the universities. I told him everything that I had been going through. hiding from the keen security guy. Another security guard and he exchanged turns. That was the time the elevator would take to bring him from the basement to his ofﬁce on the third ﬂoor. At the time I was accepted to Columbia. we would go abroad together. “I was not waiting for the elevator.here. . and I did very well. There was a column. I got into the elevator with him.” On the third day. and our plan had been that after getting married. my last hope. I showed him all the letters from the institutions that I had applied to that had no real explanation of why they couldn’t give me a scholarship. the journalist. I had been dating a guy for nine years. Maybe he thought I had a bomb. I would hide. and I would slowly go around. and he would not see me.
This was pretty painful.for the rest of my life. and a jazz band had been hired. He had always wanted me to be the best student. So. values. So I told them that we were postponing the wedding.” I didn’t get it. I was into music. it was terrible. I went to very good schools in Argentina. But the dress was ready. “Dad. I really wanted to make them happy.D. It was a very black period in my life in the sense that I suffered. I played their game. you prepare to get married a least a year in advance. But it was like they made me become someone until I reached the age of being married. who has a Ph. the church was reserved. Everything. What a circus! But it was tradition.” And he said to me. when her son had done a Ph. you know how important education is.D. In Argentina.. But it was very good. They paid thousands of dollars for my education. And then that was it. Everybody asked me “Why?” I didn’t want to tell them that my boyfriend had all the wrong ideas about women. she had this huge tea party in the afternoon with all my old aunts around eighty years old. “A woman of your age should be thinking of marriage. When I decided not to get married. you have your Ph. I asked him. My ex-boyfriend’s family was very particular while we had been planning this wedding. I grew up a lot. whatever. being stacked against the old tradition of having his daughter married. I was into sports. They paid for my classes in flute and in saxophone. My family wanted me to get married. and that he did not want me to study. I had not taken part as much because I wasn’t motivated to do a huge party for hundreds of people.D. I would compete for Argentina in Uruguay. After that. They all told me about the good 175 . and goes around the world. I asked my grandmother why she would not let me do a masters. It is not my style. It was interesting to see someone like my father. I hated the idea of being the monkey of a big ceremony. I hated the idea of a white dress.
I know it’s a kind of bias. but I do represent my country in some of my values and traditions. I still have a lot to learn. I don’t represent the typical Argentinean woman at all. I could sense that the East Germans value teamwork a lot. because all of us here are selected.things about marriage. even ten years after the wall had come down. sharing dinner. I’m with people from all over the world sharing lunch. This year is my second here. and it might come from their socialist heritage. and I have more time than last year. I’m really grateful. residents from a country come together. They wanted to talk about the Wall and stuff. I’m really involved in I-House activities. They have so much variety in their country. It is amazing. and I learned that East Germans had quite a different approach from the West Germans. because the wall was a big part of their recent history. I ended up living in International House in New York. It is a monthly event. and I told them that I just needed to study ﬁrst. I’m in charge of the Cultural Hour. They speak so many different languages. and I’m enjoying it so much. in South 176 . and sharing projects. they have so many traditions and cultures going on at the same place. I saw this huge difference between people from the Eastern and the Western part of Germany. where I-House residents from several countries show something about their cultures. about attitudes. At the beginning of each Cultural Hour. I love I-House. and the West Germans thought that it was not really interesting anymore. I worked with the Germans. So I left. But for the East Germans it is a big deal. I knew. I thank I-House for all this. The same thing happened with the South Africans. and they think about what they want to do and show. because it gives you the opportunity to learn about group dynamics from different countries. I really do not want to leave this place. It has given me the opportunity to learn every single minute.
White people would usually not treat black people like human beings. As a school psychologist. The thing was that my brother. It was at the time when the second tower of the World Trade Center had just collapsed. I was really worried. are you okay? I just don’t understand how people can be so evil. Suddenly he started screaming. I remember her crying and saying. It was in the morning. I was here to help any of the international students that needed counseling. As I lived it. My brother screamed. who lives here in the United States. and my brother and his colleges could feel it. “Mom. I couldn’t reach anyone. At September 11th. “What’s going on?” And I heard people around him screaming so hard. I remember I felt so scared for him. So she told me about the terrible thing that happened only a few miles away. There were 177 . and I turned on the TV. Then he called me. they have this huge race issue.” And I asked her. “Are you ok. It was a very sad day for the world. It was a very sad day. despite all difﬁculties. Only later did I learn that he was safe. But I couldn’t get through.Africa. So I tried to reach him via phone. many other people lived it. In I-House I have found so many people that have interesting life stories. They thought it was their building. I’m really happy to be sharing this space and time with them. and my mother woke me up with a call from Argentina. stories about being able to succeed against different problems that happened in their countries. It was a horrendous episode that happened. worked really close by the World Trade Center. were able to all get together and organize their South African Cultural Hour. and he said that there was smoke around him. “Let’s get out of here!” Then there was a silence on the phone. what are you talking about?” I had no clue what was going on. Then it was wonderful for me to see how residents here. I was in I-House.
that was so good. People were climbing all over the ruins and paid no attention to people underneath. she lives half a block from there. Think of this huge shock they had. Americans are supposed to be extremely individualistic. Imagine. They closed the airports. It was horrendous when that happened. I-House was an example of this country. My grandmother’s sister-in-law. People were willing to help everywhere. many Arab students told me that they were happily surprised. in their deep respect for other cultures. But there was no organization. I talked a lot and I tried to get them together. in less than an hour. that were supposed to be future leaders. What I really take from all this is that there was organization. I talked to them. I just saw it as a conﬂict that needs to be resolved. I was disappointed. It was amazing how organized they were. But then some of the people that were supposed to be open-minded. they wanted to help. They were able to exercise empathy. but they did it all wrong. On the other hand. but they were able to control everything within a few hours! For me that was unbelievable. She got hurt. It showed that they are a great society. and then within hours after the terrible attacks. we had two bomb attacks. I felt safe in I-House all the time. and they did it in a very strong way! In Argentina. they took control. I thought it was very important for them to do that. but in this case. they had more than enough blood. one in ‘92 and one in ‘94. 178 . they worked as a group. There were many students that were so shocked and scared that they wanted to leave I-House immediately and go back to their countries. People that had never spoken to them before approached them and let them know that they were with them. I expect I-House residents to be different from the rest of the world. One attack was on the embassy of Israel in Buenos Aires. started giving very negative comments about Arabs in general.many students whose friends were missing. but I didn’t take any position.
He had a neurological disease. that passed away years ago. whispered it. a he or a she or whatever. and what you want to change in accordance to what Virgin Mary did in her life. although it takes hours. So I prayed. only pathetic. I’m Catholic. and in a country where most of the people are Catholic. I just love it. But listen to what happened to my family. We didn’t know how to handle the situation. I thought I should change religions. I got a beautiful rosary from her. It’s very good. It’s amazing how your life changes for good when you do this. It was very sad. but I love it. My grandmother. She said that the rosary is very powerful. He was lying in 179 . too. I do believe that there is a ﬁgure up there. You can call it however you want to call it. What’s interesting about the rosary is that every ten prayers you have to think about the acts you did during the day. I also got a beautiful Virgin Mary made from marble from her. My uncle was dying. I prayed a lot. It’s there. I do it without voice. When I was 14. because you are able to analyze your acts. It is a rosary she brought from Italy many years ago. I pray the rosary. Many people would not understand spiritual power like the rosary. There are people that do the prayers aloud. he didn’t react at all anymore. and later I went to a protestant school. I think that’s very helpful at the end of each day. I have not a single doubt in the power of the rosary. The rosary is something that the Virgin Mary gave to us humans. I’m a little bit Jewish. that is on top of us and has created the whole thing. It’s kind of destroyed. I have no doubt.It was pathetic. for me it’s God. What was good and what was wrong. One day. I pray almost every single night. I’m Catholic because I was born in a Catholic family. But now what I think is important. and he was in the hospital. First I went to a Catholic school. is that you believe in something. It was killing him.
After my death. It doesn’t make sense. Now is the time to invest in my education. You’re either close to God or far away from God. I do believe my life on earth is only a tiny portion of my existence. If you try to make sense of it. I can handle it. told her he loved her. There’s no way that heaven can be bad. everybody did. Even the most horrible spirit in the future will ﬁnd peace. but he was still breathing. I was shocked by this experience. The second day. In the Catholic religion. I really would love to live in something like the International House eternally. In Argentina. It will become different. if you become logical. Everybody dresses up the same way. So. and he died. my uncle was with my aunt. And so. “How was I able to live there?” I would love to live in different 180 .m. It seemed that he was not with us any longer. I’m going to exist in a different way. I don’t see God doing what we call a judgment. “I’m not afraid of death. and having dinner and talking about different ideas is what I love to do. The “after” is all forgiveness. Everybody tells me that it is nuts to do a doctorate at Columbia plus doing a post-masters at Ackerman Institute. It’s terrible. you ride the subway and everybody looks the same. Everybody will ﬁnd peace. I think of God as pure spirit. I’m almost studying to death. I wouldn’t be able to live in a place now with no diversity. I’m not really scared of dying. we decided that at 8:30 p. Exactly at that time. I think sometimes. I just don’t want to be there when it happens. everybody that knew him would start saying the rosary. He opened his eyes. But as Woody Allen says.” Now that I’m single. To spend the entire day studying and learning and meeting people from all over the world. I don’t think there is a hell. the answer to that is spirituality.his bed and his eyes were closed.. How. I really don’t know. you’re a spirit.
which is my family. It’s also so very important to me. and my father stopped the dinner to say that he was really happy about his son getting married. I really have a passion for that. but I felt the pressure. I have a passion for the mind. My sister. It was shocking to listen to those words. I’m blessed to have an amazing family! My brother. My brother got married last January. One day I will get married and create my own family. I miss them a lot. I love to spend time with my family. I was so determined to study abroad. I think that there’s such a huge gap between us now. but it will depend on where I can ﬁnd a job.countries. So every ﬁve months I go to Argentina. and that he would wait for me. I was happy too. And nothing is going to stop me. That’s what I’m telling you! 181 . I cannot plan it. My ex-boyfriend told me recently that he thought he was wrong. I think it’s because of the way I was brought up. he wants to have ﬁve or six kids. I have great parents. I love this idea. That now he understood that I wanted to study ﬁrst. to visit them. We were all at a huge dinner. she wants four. the sky’s not the limit. I’m not in love with him anymore. There’s one thing I am really afraid of. I was so sure I was following what I wanted. because I am the older sister and not yet married. But it depends on where I’m going to live and who my husband will be. I think two is more than enough for me. But I really know that I want someone different this time. It was a family reunion. So.
Tommy Kersteter. Thanks to all people that opened their hearts and minds and told me their stories. Szu Hwa Wu. Mahima Joishy. I am also greatly indebted to the following for their help and comments that cheered me up at any time: Sharon Powel. Hermann Rottenberger. Lisa Baum. Jyothi Devabhaktuni. Olga Galusova. Olimsho Vatanshoev. Dorothy Ndletyana. Sushma Joshi. Dörte Saße and Ryan Roth. Thanks to Norbert for his unconditional love and endless support. Tomas Körner. my parents and Mohit Ichpuniani. Susi Götz. and for always encouraging me to write more stories: Pria Rai. Olga Rodriguez. Xu Ke. I would like to thank the following for transcribing: Sitara Lones. Carol Dietz.ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I am much indebted to the following people for their big effort to edit the book. proofread it. Susanne Müller. Fruzan Seiﬁ. Marwa El-Daly. Michael Fink and Edward Spek. 182 . Fadwa Abbas.
International House. former Chairman of the Federal Reserve System of the United States. Mitsubishi Materials Chairman Takeshi Nagano. author Jerzy Kosinski. Marshall. was conceived by the late YMCA ofﬁcial Harry Edmonds. The philanthropy of John D. Its mission is to enable selected graduate students and interns from countries around the world to live and learn together.org 183 . Rockefeller Jr. McCloy.International House is the most culturally diverse student community in the world’s most culturally diverse city. cultures and beliefs has transformed the lives of more than 65. Dodge family led to its construction at 500 Riverside Drive in 1924. and former President Gerald R. following a chance encounter with a lonely Chinese graduate student at Columbia University in 1909. Belgian Prime Minister Mark Eyskens. Japanese automotive executive Tatsuro Toyoda. Ford. former Secretary of State Henry A. opera stars Leontyne Price and Shirley Verrett. Kissinger. The current chairman is Paul A.ihouse-nyc. German choreographer Pina Bausch. presidential advisor John J. International House 500 Riverside Drive New York. Volcker. For 75 years. Past Chairmen of the Board have included Nobel Prize-winning statesman George C. NY 10027 www. and South African writer Mark Mathabane. Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. the International House experience of living and working with people of diverse nationalities. Among International House’s alumni have been some outstanding and accomplished ﬁgures of global renown: journalist Flora Lewis.000 people. and it houses more than 700 graduate students and trainees from over 100 countries annually. and the Cleveland H. actor Burl Ives.
95/£12.THIS BOOK IS A PARAVIEW SPECIAL EDITION.50 Civilization and the Transformation of Power Jim Garrison $19. Want to know more about Paraview Press books? Descriptions of the following titles and ordering information are available at www. and other online bookstores.com. Paraview titles can also be purchased at amazon. barnesandnoble. in essence making valuable books available to new audiences. magazines. and non-proﬁt organizations.95/£15. Thanks to digital print-on-demand technology.99 Dream Interpretation (And More!) Made Easy Kevin Todeschi $12.95/£13.paraview. Our Paraview Special Editions imprint focuses predominantly on select out-of-print titles.99 Competitive Business. it is easy and efﬁcient to bring out-of-print titles back to life again. such as associations. Any Woman Can! Sheila Grant $15. Paraview Special Editions will also focus on publishing works of international authors and co-publishing projects with like-minded partner organizations.com. or you can order them through your local bookseller. Caring Business: An Integral Business Perspective for the 21st Century Daryl Paulson $14.95/£12.95/£9.50 Dancing With the Wind: A True Story of Zen in the Art of Windsurﬁng Laurie Nadel $17.99 184 .com.
99 Mysterious America: The Revised Edition Loren Coleman $16.95/£13.95/£10.Fatal Attractions: The Troubles with Science Henry H.95/£12. Bauer $14.99 The Perfect Horoscope John Willner $17.50 Leadership in a New Era: Visionary Approaches to the Biggest Crises of Our Time John Renesch (editor) $14.99 Flowers that Heal: Aromas.95/£11. Herbs.95/£12.99 In Realms Beyond: Book One of the Peter Project Al Miner and Lama Sing $14.95/£11.95/£10.95/£11.95 In the Big Thicket: On the Trail of the Wild Man Rob Riggs $13.99 185 .95/12.99 River of a Thousand Tales: Encounters with Spirit.95/£14. Reﬂections from Science Rao Kolluru $13. Essences.99 Mothman and Other Curious Encounters Loren Coleman $14. and Other Secrets of the Fairies Judy Grifﬁn $18. Robert Smith $14.50 Misdiagnosed: Was My Wife a Casualty of America’s Medical Cold War? A.
Now high-quality paperback books can reach you.paraview. business.com. Crenshaw.95/£12.95/£13.99/£12. we specialize in topics for niche audiences such as mind/body/spirit.99 Paraview Press and Paraview Special Editions use digital print-on-demand technology (POD).95 Spiritual Places In and Around New York City Emily Squires and Len Belzer $12.99 Swamp Gas Times: My Two Decades on the UFO beat Patrick Huyghe $17. For more information. 186 . as demand requires.The Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts Joe Fisher $16. M. and balanced lifestyles. the reader. science. $16. Paraview’s free monthly media guide. a revolution in publishing that makes it possible to produce books without the massive printing. In this ecologically friendly printing method.50/£9. Free from the ﬁnancial limitations of traditional publishing.D. where you can also sign up for Conscious Planet.99 Trauma Room One Charles A. books are stored as digital ﬁles and printed one copy at a time. shipping and warehousing costs that traditional publishers incur. please visit our website at www. faster than ever before.95/£12. We believe that POD publishing empowers authors and readers alike.99 The Sonic Thread: Sound as a Pathway to Spirituality Cynthia Snodgrass $15.