PART FIVE: THE BELGRADE OPEN
JANUARY10, 2003 BELGRADE OPEN DAY 1
I awoke late. I had told Jen and Brian I would meet them at breakfast and I had not. I reluctantly put on my previously worn clothes and went down to the lobby to see what was happening. As I walked into the small restaurant where hotel guests could have breakfast I saw Kate Shuster and John Meany, two of my close friends. I had first met Kate as a debater for Emory, and had since known her as a coach, debate teacher, founder of the Seattle Debate Foundation, lecturer at the World Debate Institute in Vermont, as administrator for the program last year, and now as the outreach coordinator for debate at the Claremont Colleges. I had first met John much earlier in 1974 when I judged him in a debate at Brandeis University. I went on to coach him at Boston College, and now we have been close friends and colleagues for 30 years. He and I taught together at the Georgetown summer debate institute for ten years and now at the World Debate Institute for 20 years. His son, Jake, is now on my debate team at the University of Vermont. It is that sort of thing that makes one feel old in this strange activity called debate.
It was good to see them and chat with them. Soon Bojana
Skrt, vice president of the International Debate Education Association, executive
director of the Slovenia debate program (Za in Proti -- ZIP -- Pro and Contra),
who was to be my sponsor for my speaking tour of Slovenia coming up after the
tournament. We had a jolly conversation and I tried to wake up.
It was good to see them and chat with them. Soon Bojana Skrt, vice president of the International Debate Education Association, executive director of the Slovenia debate program (Za in Proti -- ZIP -- Pro and Contra), who was to be my sponsor for my speaking tour of Slovenia coming up after the tournament. We had a jolly conversation and I tried to wake up.
<== Lunch at Domovina
<== Lunch at Domovina
The front desk found that our bags were in Munich and that they would be in Belgrade at about noon. JAT promised they would be delivered at about 2 PM. That was good news.
It turned out that Brian and Jen had gone on the bus tour of the city with all of the other debaters, so that was a comfort to me. I thought of them and started quizzing John, Kate, Bojana, and others about the tournament and how it would be run.
Lunch had been scheduled for everyone at a restaurant near the Faculty of Law called Domovina. We decided to go there and await the arrival of the others. When we got there lunch was already in session and we found a table. I saw Brian and Jen and told them about our luggage, and they were pleased. The weather was cold and the snow deep, and BrianÕs winter coat was packed in his lost bag. He was suffering but was holding up well. They both seemed to be making friends quickly.
I saw many old friends at Domovina, including Badjo from 1997, Mila Turajlic (whom I have worked with extensively, including at last summer's World Debate Institute), and with great happiness Sonja Stojakovic (pardon my spelling) who I had not seen since 1997. Then she had been a high school debater, and now she was a major organizer of the tournament and of debate in Serbia. These would be the first of many happy meetings to come.
As lunch ended Jen, Brian, and I decided to walk back to the hotel (in the cold and the still deep snow) to see about our luggage. We had two problems. First, we could not find the hotel, so we walked around and around getting colder and more frustrated. We did finally find it. The second problem was that our luggage was not there, and would not be delivered in the foreseeable future (for some reason I could not determine). So, still in our very dirty and now fairly aromatic garb we headed back to the tournament, and arrived shivvering and breathless as the motion for the first round was announced.
This was my first real opportunity to be a parliamentary debate coach. The fifteen minutes before the debate arte just about the most intensive coaching minutes I have ever experienced. We wrote down the motion and then had a meeting about it. Unfortunately, all three of us wrote the motion down incorrectly. John actually was the judge of the debate and said they did a very nice job, but they lost.
Meanwhile, I judged the debate. At first I was confused that the motion was different, but I decided that since both teams agreed on what it was, I might as well go along. They were correct. I had a hard time concentrating, since jet lag and lack of sleep was really bothering me by now. I even called on the wrong speaker, but they corrected me. They must have been thinking, What kind of judge is this guy, he doesn't even know the order of the speeches, I did the best I could and announced the decision after which I offered my bumbling critique, but they seemed to like it and were satisfied.
Well, now it was time to try round two. Brian and Jen seemed very tired and upset at still wearing the same clothes they had started out wearing in the USA some days before, but like all LDU debaters, they seemed in good spirits in the face of adversity. The second motion came out, we strategized, and then off they went to debate while I judged. I think we all did a little better this time, but they lost again.
<== Friends in debate, teams from Serbia
<== Friends in debate, teams from Serbia & Bosnia
As things were winding down Dragan told us that our luggage was at the airport but that we would have to drive and get it, all three of us. He offered to give us a lift and we accepted. We had a nice drive with him, full of interesting conversation, and soon we were back in the hotel with our luggage, at last.
It was time for dinner at the hotel so we joined in and had a nice hot meal. Jen and Brian vanished soon thereafter to use their luggage, and I did as well. I wanted to stay and talk with so many people I had not seen in quite a while, but I was very tired and very dirty. I went up to my room, took a hot shower, put some clean garb next to my skin, and went to sleep. It felt good.
Just before I slipped into a blissful sleep I realized that I was 10 days into a 21-day adventure.
JANUARY 11, 2003 BELGRADE OPEN DAY 2
I awakened and finally felt more refreshed, as if the travel difficulties had finally been washed away. I went down to breakfast and had the usual. At the Hotel Excelsior the breakfast consists of a choice between tea, espresso coffee, cappuccino, or Turkish coffee as well as juice, fresh bread along with spreads. You can also ask for things such as fried eggs, poached eggs, or cheese omelet. As usual, I took the cheese omelet. They really devoted to drinking coffee in the former Yugoslavia. Not that the rest of Europe (or America for that matter) isnÕt, but in these Balkan nations are especially focused on the morning caffeine injection. The coffee in Europe is stronger (and thus less total liquid) than in America, and also is not served as hot as it is in the states.
Jen and Brian seemed very refreshed as well and ready for the challenge of trying to win their first parliamentary debate. We headed over to the Faculty of Law with a happy determination.
| Waiting for the pairings and the motion | John Meany and Noel Selegzi |
There are few motions that I personally feel are very balanced between the two sides expressed. This is not the fault of the motions but with my thought process, I am sure. However, I am usually able to come up with a strategy that I (if not my debaters) am comfortable with. Of course, the debaters have the final say on strategy. I have ideas, and they should listen to then, but they have to choose the strategy they wish to use. Free speech is alive and well in the LDU. I say this because we had to, in this debate, support the World Trade Organization and say that it benefited developing nations. Politically correct me dislikes the term ŅdevelopingÓ but I know what the writers of the motion were probably thinking of. Both Brian and Jen are very suspicious of the WTO, but we arrived at a strategy together that indicated the WTO would benefit these nations if the free trade obligations were reciprocal, in that overdeveloped nations refuse to really open their markets for products from the majority world while demanding that their markets be open for their products.
They went off to debate and I went off to judge. I was a far better judge after having gotten some sleep and in some clean clothing, and apparently Jen and Brian were better as well because they won round three.
Round four was announced and the motion revealed. We seemed to be on the right side of the motion this time, and we quickly devised a strategy that they felt comfortable with. They trooped off to debate and I told them I would see them during lunch at Domovina.
I was not judging the debate and I saw that Kate and Bojana were not judging either. We decided to go for a coffee and began looking for one. Both of the close cafEs we saw were not open, so we wandered a bit and found Domovina as the nearest spot, so we decided to just drink coffee and wait for the debaters and others to arrive for lunch. A waiter greeted and seated us and then engaged us in conversation. I knew we were in for it when he said, "I do not like Milosevic, but" and then we were given a sample off some of the popular opinion which has been (but fortunately now is less) prevalent in this part of the Balkans. We were told that Serbia had fought courageously in the old times and that if they had not stopped them the Muslims would have conquered Europe. We were told that people in Kosovo were better off under Milosevic (Ņthey had electricity and industry thenÉÓ) and then began a discussion of Muslim culture that shocked all of us. I wonÕt repeat the details but I was pleased that all of us kept our cool and just tried to end the conversation by turning our focus to what we wanted to drink and he finally left us. It was good to avoid angry retorts from us (and I was ready with them, even if they might not have changed his perspective), but on the other hand I was concerned that he might have left our conversation thinking that we agreed with him. It was a no-win situation, but it was over. The three of us had a very enjoyable conversation and Kate talked about the Poetry Slam coming up that night and that she would be visiting the venue (mesto) after lunch.
The debaters, judges, coaches, and organizers arrived for lunch and Jen and Brian seemed happy with their performance and told me that they had won. This would be the last round in which the judges were allowed to reveal their decisions, as the tournament invitation asked judges not to reveal in rounds five and six.
The lunch was good and the fellowship excellent. I saw Badjo again and I made the association Š every time I see Badjo we are eating. I told him that I would soon be like one of PavlovÕs dogs, salivating every time I saw him. He and I had met in Jabuka (means apple) in 1997 at the national debate camp there, and he had been a good friend to us on that trip, and he and Jan Hovden seemed to become good friends. I updated him about her and he said to say hello.
| Brian, Kate Shuster, Jen | Bojana Skrt & Branka Josimov |
We trooped back to the Faculty of Law for round five. The motion was that Jerusalem should be the capital of a Palestinian state and we were in opposition. We were against Claremont, John Meany's team, and that concerned me. From what I knew they were the best team at the tournament, and it seemed a shame to meet them in a 2-2 debate, but in the LDU we love a challenge. Our 15-minute preparation went very well and they trooped off to debate. I stayed in the amphitheater to work on my journal during the debate. When they returned they seemed very pleased with how the debate had gone, and had a lot of praise for the Claremont debaters (Jenny and Brenda-n). They were particularly happy at how our strategy had worked, and they even thought they might have won. As it turned out they did win. It may have happened to them, but it certainly happened to me when I was a debater, that the best competition can bring out the best in you. Of course, the reverse of that is that often a mediocre team can drag you down, and in my experience that is the thing that really needs to be avoided. In this case the excellence of Jenny and Brenda-n improved the performance of Brian and Jen.
Now it was time for the last debate. If we had won the Claremont debate we would qualify for the quarterfinals if we won round six. The motion was good, the judge was excellent (Mila Turajlic Š extremely able and fair Š but the team was a challenge, the national champions from Kazakhstan, two I had judged earlier. Very skilled and very friendly, I really like these two young men. We seemed happy about our strategy and they went off to debate. I remained to work on my journal.
The students came back from the debate in a very positive state. They said that the strategy seemed to go well, that they had performed well, and that their opponents had been good as well. They were very hopeful that they would win and, if they had defeated Claremont, would move into the quarterfinals.
The announcement of breaks came very quickly, and Jen and Brian were not among them. They had defeated Claremont but had lost to Kazakhstan. Mile explained the decision to them and I have all the trust in the world in her judgment. Hey, you canÕt expect to reach the elimination rounds in your very first tournament in a format you have never done before, can you? Well, you can hope, but it may not happen.
We quickly left and headed back to the hotel. I got a message from my close friend Tomislav Kargacin about him coming to visit on the next day and I was very excited about it. I met up with Kate who reported on her visit to the venue for the upcoming Poetry Slam. She was very excited about it, saying it was in the basement of a 24-hour bookstore and had all the necessities Š stage, sound system, good seating, and a bar with coffee and drinks. Dinner was good, as usual. Dinner at the Hotel Excelsior for a group like this would usually consist of bread, soup (Serbian soups are very good, especially the mushroom soup), main dish (meat, sauce, potatoes), vegetables (fresh or at times, pickled or sautˇed) and an excellent sweet finishing for the meal, often something I was not familiar with but enjoyed. I have been on a fairly strict meal regimen for the last two years (not a diet, but a change in eating habits, and I have lost about 60 pounds and feel a lot better) but when I engage in international travel I generally eat whatever is served to me and enjoy it. It was becoming clear that this trip might add a few pounds and require a bit of extra time in the gym when I return. The other thing about dinner at the hotel is that you can order beer, wine, or liquor and pay for just that. The registration fee for the tournament covered all food, housing, and local transportation. The bar had a good selection of drinks, but I usually enjoyed the Serbian brandy (Schleibovitze, pardon my spelling) because it is always different and unique. Although it is possible to eat at American fast food outlets all over the world, I dislike them in America and I canÕt imagine frequenting them outside of the states.
After dinner I spent some time socializing with tournament organizers, international debaters, as well as international coaches. While many were taking taxis to the venue for the Poetry Slam we decided to walk, even though it was very cold and a bit slushy. The intrepid Sonja led the way, as usual. She has tremendous leadership characteristics and I hope later when she is famous people will remember that I predicted it!
As we walked along the central pedestrian-only street in Belgrade I noticed how it had changed since my last visit -- not much. The brand names in the stores and the names of the stores had changed somewhat, but it had the vibrancy and color I had so enjoyed in a previous visit.
We arrived at the bookstore where the Poetry Slam was to take place and Kate and John were there organizing things. People were gathering. I volunteered to read a poem by William S. Burroughs if Kate needed me, and she said she did.
| At the poetry slam | Poetry in Serbo-Croatian |
A poetry slam works like this. The poet had three minutes in which to read original work. Then, judges selected out of the audience hold up cards to give that reading a point value, which is then added and becomes their score. In this case there were three poets in the competition. After each went twice, the two would advance to a final, producing a winner.
Kate wanted to warm thee audience up a bit. She asked me to start, and I did, reading "No more Stalins, no more Hitlers" by William S. Burroughs and dedicating it to George W. Bush. I also got a chance to talk about my feelings concerning the bombing of Serbia, and that fact that it took the lives of friends.
| Kate Shuster readers her work | Brenda-n reads his work |
| Luka performs | Haris performs |
Then Kate read a poem of hers about living in California. This was followed by a poem in Serbian read by someone whose name I did not record (a debater) but it got a great response, evoking a lot of laughter.
Now it was time for the competition. The poets were Luka from Lithuania (I believe), Haris from Bosnia-Herzegovina (once again, I believe) and Branda-n from Claremont. The audience greeted the first round warmly, and there was a considerable amount of applause and/or booing for the scores of the judges, and the scores often disagreed in their evaluations (sounds like debating). I really enjoyed the work of all three. Luka and Brenda-n advanced to the final. Brenda-n eventually emerged as the victor to a round of applause and Kate presented suitable awards. Kate did a very nice job of being MC for the show. Then came music and drinking. The first annual Belgrade Open Poetry Slam had been a success.
The jolly partying continued and I found myself with Branka, Zoritza, Djordje, and Bojana. As the crowd began to thin out the bartender and manager offered to provide us with free drinks. The business had been good and they had made some good money that night, so they were willing to share. I had probably had enough but was willing to celebrate their good fortune with them.
But, it was time to go, getting late (about 2:30 AM), so we divided up into two taxis and made our way back to the hotel. I had no problem falling asleep after my adventures!
<== Brian Cole reads his work
<== Brian Cole reads his work
JANUARY 12, 2003 BELGRADE OPEN DAY 3
I arose a bit late, as might have anyone who was out so late with the Serbian debate posse (and other former Yugoslavian allies). And, for those of you whop think I am always a debate #1 kind of guy, I must confess that I arose so late that I missed my quarterfinal judging assignment. As I poured warm water over my head in an attempt to wake up, I promised that I would apologize.
I went downstairs and was too late for breakfast, so I just told them to serve me and I would pay for it. I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and a strong cup of coffee (trying to maintain my no caffeine habit, but this trip is making that difficult). I relaxed and just mulled over the events of the recent days. I also thought about the 75,000 or so USA troops that were on their way to the Persian Gulf and that didnÕt make me very cheerful.
I went back to my room to await my visit from Tomislav, and almost immediately the phone rang and I went down to the lobby to meet him. We embraced happily and then went into the restaurant to visit and catch up.
<== Tomislav at Danube during my 1998 visit
<== Tomislav at Danube during my 1998 visit
Tomislav is the first Serb I ever met who really loved debate. It has been so long now that I hardly remember, but it seems to me that it was in the summer of 1996. Tomislav Kargacin, intellectual, brigand, anarchist, and my future beloved friend, showed up that summer at the World Debate Institute. I had made arrangements with debate organizer Vedran Vucic to host one of his coaches at WDI and Tomislav was the one. I was nor sure when he would be arriving nor was he sure of how to arrive. He had landed in Burlington with no idea of where to go and had checked in to the Sheraton not far from campus. Then, the next morning, he had wandered around campus until he found me. At the time I told him that all of the parts of our program were open to him, and that he should just move around and observe things and then after he had his bearings he could decide how he wanted to proceed from there. Because Vedran had said that Tomislav was a very serious scholar, I told him that he had all privileges at our library and that he should feel free to photocopy anything he wanted at our expense. His eyes lit up like fireworks in the night and one of my most important friendships had begun.
Since them Tomislav and I have been together in many different settings. He has been a faculty member at WDI several times, we have taught together at Serbian debate camps, he came to Vermont for a month and was part of our debate team (meetings, tournaments, judging, research assignments, practice debates, etc.), I have been a guest in his home (and sampled his spicy Hungarian cooking), we have ridden crowded buses together across the plains of Voivodina, I have hosted him in my home, we have been on conference panels together, we have shared brandy on my porch, we have met at distant locations (like Budapest and Prague) because we canÕt afford to miss each other when we are on the same continent, we have known victory and accomplishment together, I have a drawing in my home made by his daughter Andreja, and we have known tears and pain over some of the tragedies of life, both personal and professional. There are few people in debate I feel as close to as Tomislav. He can be earthy and grassroots in one moment, and then in the next taking notes on what I am saying but doing it in Sanskrit.
Tomislav and I spent most of the rest of the day talking and sharing. Various people drifted in and out of our conversations, but we remained the hub. We spoke about our other friends, about his current teaching job, and about the challenges that single fathers face. I cherish all my time with Tomislav.
John Meany and Kate Shuster joined us. Kate was on her way back home to deal with her massive debate outreach efforts, but John would be staying an extra day as he and I would do some seminar work the next day for the tournament hosts and interested students. Since all of us are very involved in WDI we did some talking and planning, and of course Kate and John had their six page single spaced typewritten suggestions and comments burned onto a mini-CD for me. They really know how to get under the skin of s gadget-guy like me, what with their keychain hared drives and all. For those of you who know me this mighty seem hard to believe, but with all of Kate and JohnÕs criticisms and all of their suggestions I was in absolute agreement. I am a bit stubborn and donÕt always take criticism well, nor are Kate and John the kind of people who soft sell their criticisms, but their insights were excellent and their suggestions very constructive. I treasure such friends.
Kate was on her way and John was preparing to move to a better hotel (his story was that he had free nights at any Hyatt worldwide and needed to use them before February) but Tomislav and I continued to chat. The time rolled by and before I knew it the time for the final round was approaching, and I was scheduled to be one of the judges. Since the final was taking place in the national parliament building and some big shots would be there, I was expected to change into my finest, so we went upstairs while I wriggled into my most conservative suit and even put on my money tie. I have several kinds of ties (although I prefer no necktie at all): my student tie, which features great colors and lovely fish swimming around; my media tie, a Jerry Garcia design with rich red and dark blues; and my money tie, used for my most important sessions, and selected for me by Kyung-ja Lee, who was then head of Korean Broadcasting during my debate visit there and took pity on me because of my color deficient sight and helped me select a proper tie (Koreans really know style, or at least Dr. Lee certainly does). If I need a fourth tie I have another Garcia or one purchased for me in Chile by Lila Diaz, gifted poet and writer who felt sorry for me when I lost my luggage in Santiago and helped me select an alternate kit.
Tournament debaters pose for a photo in the chamber
| In the halls of parliament before the debate |
Tournament debaters pose for a photo in the chamber |
After all debate had been through in Serbia and the former Yugoslavia this was an amazing moment. The first debate camp had been held a few miles from where forces would paint over their insignia, liquor up the troops, and cross into battle in Bosnia and Croatia. Coaches talked about having to stay on the move because there were orders to draft them into the army first. The Soros Foundation had been banned for its support of open society activities. I had been followed by the secret police during my early visits. Students had been removed from the debate camp by others, either parents angry that they were consorting with other ethnic groups or parents disturbed by what they child was learning and came to pick them up, with the next stop being army induction. Informers had attended debate meetings to discover what criticisms of the government were being hatched. Thugs would start fights during debates so that it could be argued that they were dangerous and should not be held. Debaters were accused in the press of being CIA operatives trying to destabilize the country. Debates about the most difficult topics (de-Nazification of Serbia, responsibility for ethnic cleansing, free press) had been held amidst opposition and harassment. Professors who supported debate had refused to sign loyalty oaths and held their classes in the streets. Debaters had started newspapers and participated in the under siege free media like B92 radio. On that fateful day, October 5, debaters had confronted guards at the doors to the parliament building with a non-stop barrage of rhetoric until, later in the day, the guards had handed their helmets and their shock batons to the students and melted away, and the regime of Milosevic had fallen because when the police and army will not shoot the people who protest the dictatorship cannot last. Many nations have struggled to create space for debate, but I know of none where the struggle was longer and more difficult than in Serbia and other parts of the former Yugoslavia. And yet, I had never been to a place or met people who were more determined to create a debate culture. Tonight would be a night of pride and accomplishment.
| Mila and Zeca, tournament organizers | Author with Tiana Mandlich, early debate pioneer in Balkans |
The final rounds, in both the open division and in the English as a foreign language division, would be held in the chambers of the parliament. The open final would be addressed by four people who were, indeed, an odd assortment given the history of debate in Belgrade and Serbia. The minister of education would speak, the heroic academic Dr. Turajlic (an inspiration to all during the freedom struggle), the president of the NPDA Tom Kuster of the USA, and tournament organizer Mila Turajlic, former top speaker at European Universities Debate Championship. Wow. All together in the national parliament chamber to witness -- a debate!
I wandered the marble halls before the debate started and felt a sense of wonder. I met old friends and talked of the old days. I stood transfixed in the parliament chamber and took photos. This was really happening.
| Author in spot where Milosevic spoke | Bojana Skrt & John Meany |
As the proceedings began I took my seat with the other judges. Mila welcomed us. The minister of education spoke glowingly about the role of debate in a free society; Dr. Turajlic spoke in an inspirational tone, mixing her praise with her sharp criticism of governments and NGOs alike, showing a commitment to the critical process even in a moment of celebration. Tom Kuster welcomed us on behalf of the NPDA and thanked tournament NPDA organizer Bob Trapp. The debaters were introduced, Azusa Pacific and Willamette. The motion was announced, that international justice is neither.
The debate was fine and I enjoyed it. The speaking talents of both teams were impressive. I would have done the argumentation a little differently, but that is always true. Once again, it was not the result but the process that was so important. Here we were, in the heart of what was once a deeply rooted dictatorship, and we were having a debate about the way the USA hold prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
| Federal minister of education speaks to the crowd | The four debaters in the championship round |
As soon as the debate was over the judges retired to a separate chamber. Some wanted to consult, but I urged that we all make our own decision and then just count the ballots. We did just that, and then had a little chat about the debate. It was 4-1 for the government, Azusa Pacific. The awards had already started so we went back to the chamber. The decision was announced, the cameras clicked, and the proceedings came to an end. These scenes will always burn bright in my memory as a beacon of hope. As I told my close Serbian friends later that night as I hugged them, Milosevic is in jail, and we are having a major international debate tournament in Belgrade and the final round in the parliament chamber. Yes, there is hope for progress in an often dark and discouraging world. I will tell this story again, but only in the darkest moments when it is most needed.
I dashed back to the hotel to change clothes before coming back to the bus that would take us to the final celebratory dinner. It was in a fine restaurant in Skaldalija, the club and party part of town I had come to appreciate on previous visits. The whole crowd was there (except for John, who later claims he fell asleep in his hotel room while changing clothes) and I sat next to my many Serbian and other friends and celebrated what we had done, mostly what they had done. Slobo in jail, and free debate competition in the parliament. The loyalty oath gone from the Faculty of Law, and the classrooms buzzing with the excitement of free debate. I had to remember those who had not made it with us, those who had died from NATO bombs, those who had vanished without a trace in Kosovo, those who had gone lost. We remembered them.
| Festivities after the final round | Serbian musical combo plays Balkan (and world) greatest hits |
The food was fantastic and ample. I had been complaining that I had not had any kaymak (a strange concoction to be spread on bread) since coming to Belgrade, and with a wave of his hand Badjo produced some. The schleibovitze was flowing. Music began as a combo played. The debaters began singing and chanting. We laughed and told stories.
A John Lennon lyric came to my mind, answering so many of the pessimists I had listened to through the years. You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I was with a lot of dreamers that night. Nor all of our dreams can and will come true, but some of them will, and this one did.
The debaters began to leave and head to the all-night disco where they would boogie until the dawn. I remained behind to continue my fellowship with so many wonderful people -- Badjo, Tomislav, Branka, Zoritza, Djordje, Bojana, Mishko, and others. After a while they decided to move to another part of the restaurant so that the wait staff could clean up, and acutely aware that I had seminars to lead in the morning and all of the next day, I decided to depart.
I hate to say good-bye. I do not really believe in it. It probably works better for Doctor Who (he can jump in his time machine and vanish) than it does for me, but I still prefer just to vanish. If forced to say good-bye, I will say, "The world is too small and the future is too big for us not to meet again." This night I did not, as I simply vanished into the snowy evening as the group moved to a new part of the restaurant. As I look back on it now, some days later, I know I was foolish. I should have embraced them all, especially my dear brother Tomislav, even if I showed a tear. But I didn't. Perhaps someday I will learn.
I walked up the snowy street alone, thinking to myself. So many thoughts. So much behind me in 30 years of debate, so much ahead of me in the exciting decades to come. I had no idea how to get back to the hotel. I stopped at a taxi stand and tried to hire a car, but they said it was too close to risk losing their spot on the taxi stand. Finally, I negotiated a good rate with the last taxi in line and then paid the driver twice as much when he dropped me off at the Hotel Excelsior. Before I went to sleep I watched a bit of the BBC World News, because I know the struggle is not over, and there are many more debate topics ahead of me.