All Quiet on the Railway Front

Living between Europe and America the last three years I was thinking that you can’t really understand America without recognizing the centrality of the car in the lives of Americans – in a country where a driver’s license serves as an identity card. On the other hand you can’t understand Europe without remembering the centrality of railways and trains in its modern history: the industrial revolution; urbanization; a continent ‘united’ in its linguistic fragmentation through railways; WWI; WWII; the Holocaust; the post-war European economic miracle; the Cold War and a divided continent (old railways ended at the borders of Communist countries as a dead end); the European Union and a borderless continent again – just as it was before 1914. Trains and railways symbolize Europe’s booms and dooms, its most shining as well as its most gloomy moments. In the last few weeks, children, families, refugees from the Middle East are embarking in a painful and hazardous journey through Europ

Fifty Shades of Snow (Part II)

March brought us some good news. The temperature started rising and some warm and timid sunny rays crept into our freezing winter. The snow started thinning away. It also started turning black, like the countenance of a humiliated warrior who can’t do anything about the incumbent defeat.   No more snow-slopes on the sidewalks. We got into the habit of contemplating them every day for the past two months. Snow-banks and snow-slopes have now turned into narrow black-and-white strips. It’s a sign that spring is around the corner (or so we hope). There are even days when I can hear spring’s quiet whisper. But the next moment I am brought back again into the wintry reality I was dreaming of leaving behind. Suddenly, the temperature begins to drop and a chilly wind cuts straight to the bones, like a chainsaw. The snow never surrenders till it melts away, until it totally disappears. The snow is stubborn. Winters in these parts of the world are stubborn, springs and summers are fragile a

Fifty Shades of Snow

(Part I – The Four Ages of Snow) For the last three winters of my life I have been surrounded by snow and frigid weather. A completely new experience for me. Before coming to Boston three years ago, I had spent all my life in no-snow zones. In zones where you sometimes get fed up with too much sun: in Lushnje (a small town in central Albania) and Athens, Greece. Even in my mum’s bedtimes stories the presence of snow was scarce. The only “snow characters” I remember from childhood are snowman   and Snow White. The first didn’t figure among my toys. As for the latter I never fell in love with her (maybe because I couldn’t dream of myself as a  P rince; I felt closer to the Seven Dwarfs) . *** In the songs that I hum time after time, snow is almost never mentioned (except for Adamo's "Tombe La Neige"). The first time I came face to face with snow was when I was 13. It happened at a town in Southeastern Albania, called Librazhd. As I was visiting my uncle

Paris at Harvard Square

Yesterday, I was making my way home, after a nice dinner with friends in Lexington. It was around 11.30 in the evening when I arrived at the Harvard Square T station. I was waiting on the platform for the train to arrive. Usually I tend to walk back and forth waiting the train. Sitting and waiting still like a stone makes me feel nervous. My thoughts circulate better in my brain when I move my legs. The platform was empty; the kind of train platforms I like because they give me plenty of room to walk around. There were two other people on the platform. I hurriedly looked at them and my first impression was that they were both homeless. It was freezing cold and snowing non-stop outside and maybe they had found a temporary refuge against the arctic-like temperatures on that red-color platform. Homeless people usually do this in order to protect themselves from the cold. One of the seemingly homeless people was a young lady who had sat down on the floor, cross-legged, a backp

Le lire et le dire

Let's make an exception this time - for those who speak french. Here's the first part of an interview in French with Jean-Claude C aillette ( radio Fréquence Paris Plurielle) in his radio program "Le Lire et le Dire". Just download the MP3 ( 325 Europe 1ère par tie liredire 04.07.14.mp3 )  from the link below: I will post the second part next Monday…