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Monday, January 18, 2016

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My trip to Kiev has just been canceled by the bus company. I guess business is not going well. Don't everyone and his grandma want to go to Kiev? I will get there another way. Perhaps this means I will have to go to Warsaw first. I'll figure it out.



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6 comments:

Patricia said...

Dear Linh,
Please do take care.
Patricia

Anonymous said...

Can you hitchhike like was more common in the good ol'days here in the US? (Early 70s were what I remember as good ol'days) Could be like here now, people will either ignore you or assume craziness of some kind or a terror threat.

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Patricia and Anonymous,

I found another bus company. Will get my tickets tomorrow. Hitchhiking across vast Poland would be a terrible idea, since I don't speak the language. Hitchhiking in the Ukraine would be suicidal. Ukraine leads Europe in human trafficking, with many victims kidnapped. Though I'm no good as a laborer or sex slave, I do own a wallet, and with so many shady types in that unraveling country, it would not be a good idea to jump into one strange car after another.

Linh

Linh Dinh said...

P.S. Hitchhiking in the Ukraine, you're expected to pay the driver, which is fair enough, but once you've entered his car, you're a hostage to whatever price he demands.

Rudy said...

Hitch-hiking. Different times, different places.

About 45 years ago someone asked me

Are you Allen Ginsberg?
No.
Are you sure?
I think so.
Oh, well you hang around with guys like that, right?
Sometimes.

About a year later, still looking like Ginsberg, I hitch-hiked from Ahvaz to the Iraqi border near Khohrramshahr, where, headed for Basrah, I walked across the stretch of no-mans-land separating Iran from Iraq – machine guns on either side trained on each other. That was the only time I ever felt threatened in the Middle East.

The guy in the wood hut on the Iraqi side glanced at me, looked at my passport, stamped it, gestured toward a couple of taxis, waved me on and went back to fingering his worry beads. One of the drivers approached and said something. Not knowing Arabic yet, I said Basrah. He replied with something that included dinar. A common language isn’t necessary for communication; it just makes it more efficient. I somehow let him know that what he was asking for was outrageous, and started walking. I got far enough for him to realize that I actually intended to walk there. He knew I’d die out there in the heat, so he came after me and offered a reasonable price. Altogether I had about £200. That had to last me until I got to Mosul, and few weeks beyond that. He ended up buying me lunch.

The buses were all different shapes and sizes, and they carried anything, including livestock. After half an hour or so I found one that was going to Baghdad, learning the words for ‘this’ and ‘that’ in the process. I don’t know what happens now that the US has destroyed Iraq, but in those days the first thing a traveler was offered was water. The bus carried a huge ceramic jug for that – perhaps 15 or 20 gallons. The driver offered me water. The buses didn’t operate according to a time schedule. If you wanted to go to Baghdad, you got on a bus that was going there and waited until the driver decided to go, which was usually when it got full. While waiting I watched others board. After drinking they said shukran, so, belatedly, I said shukran to the driver. He smiled and said what, at the time I guessed and later confirmed, meant welcome.

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Rudy,

Thanks for this most interesting anecdote. You must have a thousand. It's too bad you don't have a blog!

Linh

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About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.