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head high. To even my own surprise, I exuberantly booted a

pigeon which had failed to jump out of my way on the

dusty pavement. Most likely the passersby were unable to

give the act the appreciation it deserved.

The wannabe rebellious graffiti on a fence – “Just do it

before they do you” – struck me as jejune, the peevish hand

that scrawled it evidently incapable of anything more than

peevish scrawling.

At times like this I am at the helm, liking a lot of things,

and nothing can get in my way.

Once upon a time there was a Chinaman – an old dog, a

stubborn goat who used to pull a rickshaw at Yabao Market

in the center of Beijing. The only expression he could share

with me was, “velly bad show” (at least I never heard him

say anything else I could understand) – but the way he said

it has ever since given me a sensible answer when someone

asks, “How’s it going?” “Velly bad show” means “Everything

sucks, but I feel good.” Actually, everything was fine too.

Ivanovo in some cynical, catastrophic way, develops a taste

in you for apocalypse.

This was just the right moment for me to call him.

“How is your young life going?”