When my grandparents visited London in retirement, they were disappointed to find that the pub off Edgware Road had become a television store. For Henry and me, Edgware Road was a busy Lebanese area of shisha cafes and the best late-night shawarma, blending at its southern end with the posher neighborhoods surrounding Oxford Street. It is sometimes now called Little Beirut, or Little Cairo.
When the cab I’m in reaches the chokepoint, I see a man lying on his back on the pavement, head to one side, the wheels of a stopped car inches away. ... When I pass a half an hour later, he’s still there, and traffic is backed up to the Boulevard François Mitterrand.
I’m at an arts center in Brussels, waiting to see a movie and trying to look Belgian. Or at least not American. Or at least not like an American who’s here without purpose, floating through this city for a few days because, for the first time in many years, she happens to be in Europe.