Sub Zero Adventures – a short story from China.

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After a happy, prolonged period of stabilization and life-altering romance, I finally bid farewell to Belgium in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in grey, uneventful Brussels, my girl and I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and travelling.

Waiting for the hangman’s noose to be tied around our necks was driving S and I crazy. After our showdown with Tracy, all we could do was get on with our classes and wait for EE to make contact. We had no idea what Maggie was gonna do. Would she summon us all for a god-awful meeting? Would we perhaps be relocated to another school? Or maybe we’d just get straight out fired!? I had no idea in which direction the pendulum would swing and the suspense was killing me. We hadn’t seen much of Tracy in the week since the shitstorm. Keeping a low profile, she seemed to be consciously minimizing her dealings with us. If only Water, the school Judas, had followed suit. I was so disgusted with her I could hardly make eye contact, but of course she continued to sit in on my lessons, stinking the place out with the stench of betrayal. 

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Enlightening! – a short story from China.

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After a happy, prolonged period of stabilisation and life-altering romance, I finally bid farewell to Belgium in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in grey, uneventful Brussels, my girl and I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and travelling.

“So what do you think?” grinned Candy as we shuffled inside the apartment. There was an engulfing silence as S and I undertook a brief inspection. I looked at S. S looked at me. We both looked at Candy. Candy grinned back cluelessly. Dear, oh dear.

There were no words to describe what we thought of the flat. A conventional dictionary-sourced option may have been something along the lines of filthy or disgusting; but in reality this joint was a whole new level of skank that required a yet to be invented adjective. “Um… is a little dirty,” giggled Candy nervously. But I just glared back at her, which instantaneously wiped the silly smile off her face.

“Um… Maggie told us this place was brand new?” I managed with a bleak shake of my head. But now Candy was stuttering incomprehensibly and making a pig’s ear of trying to get Maggie on speed dial. Looking utterly depressed, S sighed, arms folded, bottom lip pushed out as I stood there picturing a local vagrant rejecting this hole with a patronising laugh before returning to his cardboard box back in the alley.

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My Photographs: Top 5 Doha.

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1 Iranian Souq, July 2001Iranian Souq, July 2001. I arrived in Doha during the summer of 2001, without a clue as to what I would do there. Those first weeks were spent wandering about the city, with regular visits to the corniche, City Center Mall and the Iranian Souq. The locals were quietly friendly and largely unobtrusive in their attempts to attract my business. Many shop owners were happy to be photographed, like this old spice merchant and his Indian assistant. To read more about my experiences, check out my short story Ashraf.

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The Last King of Štúrovo – a short story from Slovakia.

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In September 2002 I rocked up in Bratislava with a couple of bags and just enough cash to last until my first paycheck. And so unfolded one of the great years of my life…

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Ah Leighton! Do you have a moment?’’ I’d just finished an Obchodna morning class and was dashing through the lobby, keen to get my daily fix of McMinx-served coffee and fried apple pies.

Little Katka? Her shrill voice stopped me in my tracks. Oh ****, what have I done? ‘‘Sure’’ I said, trying to look relaxed as she led me into her office. Although pleasant enough in her own clipped way, the school’s assistant director was someone you didn’t want to get on the wrong side of. Little in name, but gargantuan in reputation, it was a widely held belief among the teachers that if you could avoid being called into her office, all was well with your Bratislava teaching career.

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Bring Your Own Bog Roll – a short story from Slovakia.

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Cover photo courtesy of Nate Robert http://www.yomadic.com/

In September 2002 I rocked up in Bratislava with a couple of bags and just enough cash to last until my first paycheck. And so unfolded one of the great years of my life…

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‘‘No, this one also doesn’t work’’ said Zuzana, beating her gloved hands together. ‘‘Oh well… we keep on looking’’. 

It was a chilly October afternoon and I was accompanying a beleaguered Goldblum on what was fast becoming a wild goose chase. ‘‘Vadim…’’ barked Zuzana, rattling the metal handle on yet another locked door, Choď skontrolovať tamtie červené dvere”.  

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Blood in the Lobby – a short story from Slovakia.

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In September 2002 I rocked up in Bratislava with a couple of bags and just enough cash to last until my first paycheck. And so unfolded one of the great years of my life…

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‘‘I’m cold’’ grumbled Sladjana, drawing on her cigarette. ‘‘Why is this place empty? Shouldn’t there be people here?’’

‘‘You get more of a crowd down at my local team back home’’ added Irish Mike, as yet another misplaced pass dribbled out of play. ‘‘******* dreadful!’’ muttered Ben. 

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Minxology – a short story from Slovakia.

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In September 2002 I rocked up in Bratislava with a couple of bags and just enough cash to last until my first paycheck. And so unfolded one of the great years of my life…

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Settling into Bratislava working life turned out to be a piece of cake, largely thanks to my sedate teaching schedule. Although I had to wake up early each day, I gave only two lessons a morning followed by a generous three hour break. 1 Philip MorrissmallerThen there were two more classes in the afternoon, one of which was an in-company course at Philip Morris. A one-on-one session with a humorless businessman called Martin who more often than not cancelled at the eleventh hour. The rest of the time he kept me waiting around at reception while he finished off a meeting/conference call/sandwich/crossword. On the rare occasions I made it into his office he pretty much refused to do any work. ‘‘Am tiring and we have not much time’’ he’d say lighting up a cigarette. ‘‘Let’s talk football’’.

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