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EVERY WORLD IS A STRANGER'S WORLD

"He’s a little crazy right now. He goes to Rhode Island School of Design, and his final project was to design a building. What architects take years to do, he has to do in a month." That’s what I like about other people's cell phones, if the talker isn’t driving or shouting. I get glimpses into the worlds of strangers.

The young man I’m overhearing at the moment is seated directly behind us in the train between Boston and New York.

"Morocco, yeah, it’s kind of been popping up…yeah, it sounds really good…, yeah…, yeah, huh! I guess India’s not much different. It sounds as if the cities are intense, and that’s where the tourism is… uh huh…."

India does not happen to be on my agenda. There too many places I want to return to, Taiwan, Israel, Mexico, rather than take on somewhere new. Maybe I’m getting too old, though Adolph’s sister, Merle, whom we just visited, is almost seven years older than I am and is going to Israel this month, next month to India, later on leading, with her husband, Marshall, a trip along the Silk Route.

"It’s good to talk to you again. I love you. Give my love to Grandpa…. I love you, too."

It’s night, we’re passing through Stamford, less than an hour to New York. That’s why I’m blogless, a Boston Barmitzvah’s to blame. But I’d better skip the blame game. The fact is busyness is the scourge of the 21st century, for those who are lucky. Lights suddenly go out, I’m writing in the dark, back on, an anticlimax. On or off, I haven’t seen the face of the man behind. I probably never will, just want to let his words simmer. Lights out again.

As I left the Shorewood Fitness Center last week, I overheard another cell phone conversation, a man walking to his car. "I’m about to go home now, call you when I get there," and a train of questions chugged through my head. How many people on earth can say I’m about to go home and actually have a home to go to, not a refugee camp, a shelter, a tin shack, a nook under a bridge? How many can say with confidence I’ll call you when I get there, knowing it’s safe to walk or ride, no shooting, no war, no drug dealers, forest fires,hurricanes, tsunamis?

Do we have any idea of what portion of the world has no home to go home to? Is afraid to walk the streets, if there are streets? And on the Amtrak train I think of revisiting Taiwan, Israel, or Mexico, while the young man behind us contemplates trips to India or Morocco. The man outside the Shorewood Fitness Center ambles to his car, talking on his cell, ready to drive home, sure of getting there.

And the millionaires and billionaires in Washington plot new ways to avoid paying taxes.

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