TO THE WOMAN WHO LED US INTO THE MOUTH OF THE JAGUAR
I heard your voice before I saw you. You didn’t ask me if I was OK. You just began a conversation, as if we had been talking for a long time. You took my daughter’s hand, and you told me the entrance to Ek Balam’s temple was just a few steps away.
TO THE WAITER IN BEYOGLU WHO LEFT ME A TIP
Pamuk, to his credit, understood the rarity of his good fortune and set out to do something purposeful with it. After collecting his loot, he conceived of a fictional project that actually, for once, merited the designation of “novel,” in the adjectival sense of the word, as something had never been tried before.
JHUMPA LAHIRI, HAND-PAINTED BUSES, AND ARRIVING IN KOLKATA
I thought I was reading to take me back, in geography and in my own life. A way to revisit the teeming humanity on the train platform. The cardamom boiling in the milk for tea. The bitter smoke of morning air. A way to turn from the last page back to the first.
TO THE GUY IN GUATEMALA WHO NEARLY UNTIED MY TONGUE
If I’d been wearing one of those adorable mini chalkboards around my neck like people in movies wear when they take a vow of silence, perhaps I would scribble hello, handsome stranger along with a brief explanation. It’s not you, it’s my silent retreat.
ABOUT THE FIRST TIME I MET CHARLES MANSON
He still had an enviable crop of hair and beard, now gray and relatively kempt, and though his skin was doughy and shadow-less his eyes were as soft and expressive as a pig's. As he sat at a visitation table in clean blue chambray, he looked less like America's most dangerous criminal and more like the original Maytag Man, waiting fist-to-cheek.
ABOUT PORTOBELLO ROAD
I walk down Portobello Road, past the bright blue, red, and yellow facades of buildings that I have no desire to enter, past glossy, small boutiques filled with narrow-hipped women…I’m wearing clean scrubs, clogs. A foreigner. Refugee from a hospital, wanting to preserve my other life, the person I was before the sacrifices of this long training.