104 Slices
Medium 9781609520847

The Women’s Sitting Room

Lavinia Spalding Travelers' Tales ePub

ANGIE CHUANG

The Women’s Sitting Room

And this is she

with whom I tried to speak, whose hurt, expressive head

turning aside from pain . . .

and soon I shall know I was talking to my own soul.

—Adrienne Rich, “Twenty-One Love Poems”

We stood before the bright blue wooden door, a single spot of color in the long, white compound wall and the dun, rubble-strewn city. Fumes from the diesel engines and open sewers of Kabul swirled around us, mixing with the dust of the unpaved road.

“This is it,” said Laila, my Afghan-American interpreter and travel companion.

On the other side of the wall, I would soon meet a woman I had been hearing about for three years. She was illiterate and had never attended school, but her sons in America were gruff, stoic, educated men who held university professorships and high-level government jobs, and spoke proudly of their Pashtun roots. In English, the men called her one thing and one thing only: Our Dear Mother. Laila simply called her Grandma.

It was May 2004. After September 11, I had begun reporting on the Shirzais, an Oregon-based Afghan immigrant family, for a major daily newspaper. Grandma’s oldest son, Daoud, a university professor who returned to Afghanistan to serve in the new Karzai government, had invited me to visit them in Kabul.

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Medium 9781609520588

Traveling to Mary

James OReilly Travelers' Tales ePub

AMY WELDON

Traveling to Mary

Wandering through London, a young scholar finds inspiration for life and love in warrior women of the past.

At the foot of Westminster Bridge in London rides a bronze woman bent on war. Drawn in a chariot behind two rearing horses, she sweeps her arms vengefully high, clutching a spear and beckoning some Fury from the air. She is Boudicca, Celtic warrior queen. In 60 AD, after Roman soldiers flogged her, then raped her two preteen daughters in front of her eyes, she did her damndest to kill them all. “Let us, therefore, go against them trusting boldly to good fortune,” she shouted to her troops. “Let us show them that they are hares and foxes trying to rule over dogs and wolves.” Boudicca nearly beat the Romans, but when her defeat became inevitable, she poisoned herself rather than accept it. Now she guards the entrance to a bridge, a place of crossing, of something new on the other side. In this city, pressed by a dying first love and the soft clamor of ancestral voices at my back, any bridge might be the bridge I’m looking for.

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Medium 9781609520588

Where Things Happen

James OReilly Travelers' Tales ePub

PAT RYAN

Where Things Happen

The “third” in “third world” can be an existential multiplier, not a mark of poverty.

One recent winter I spent five months wandering around East Africa. I flew into Nairobi, Kenya, and flew back from Cape Town, South Africa. In between I had many interesting adventures. I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya, went on safaris and visited semi-forgotten ancient ruins. For the first month or so, I traveled with a Polish guy named Marius I met during a layover in London. He’s a short, stocky punk rocker with a shaved head, lots of tattoos, and a fondness for camouflage. I’m tall and gangly with crazy long hippie hair, so you might appreciate the image of our traveling partnership. Indeed, the amount of laughter we seemed to cause everywhere was enough to make the entire journey worthwhile …but then this other stuff happened too.

We arrive in the town of Tanga on the coast of Tanzania shortly after finishing our safari in the Ngorongoro Crater. Our original plan is to go directly to the island of Zanzibar for some rest and relaxation on the world famous beaches. But when we learn that it is possible to take a ferry to the smaller island of Pemba from where we can connect to another ferry for Zanzibar, we decide to take a small detour. Unfortunately, the ferry from Tanga only runs on Tuesdays and we arrive on a Saturday so we have to wait for a few days. No matter, we buy ourselves a nice bag of local weed, get a room with a balcony overlooking the ocean and proceed to amuse ourselves by socializing with the good citizens of Tanga.

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Medium 9781609520809

1. A Kormic Explanation

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub
Medium 9781609520847

Remember this Night

Lavinia Spalding Travelers' Tales ePub

KATHERINE JAMIESON

Remember this Night

The neighbors might talk—but it will be worth it.

The teenage girl you live with, the younger one with the jutting chin who rarely smiles, is laughing at America’s Funniest Home Videos. She giggles as a kitten falls off a window ledge onto the back of a large dog, as a small dog runs so fast it trips and flips over itself, and as a parakeet recites words that have to be bleeped out for the viewing audience. Your legs are so sweaty that it’s painful to pull them from the stuffed chairs you have swung them over. With your hands you try to separate your skin, swollen with heat and sun, from the vinyl, but after a few inches you wince, fall back in the chair, and decide there’s really no need to move again tonight.

Just as you are settling into the home videos marathon with its echoing canned laughter, the TV begins to flip through channels. A denture commercial with lush bubbles surfacing over pearly teeth . . . a group of young, happy people wearing McDonald’s t-shirts and dancing in line . . . an old episode of Sanford and Son. The changing continues, as if a higher power is trying to decide what’s best for you to watch this evening. Finally, the pixels coalesce into a staticky image of two uncommonly attractive young people—male and female—and after one glance at the nonchalant grins of those faraway actors you’ve already divined the ending.

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