Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dances With Jews- (Krakow, Poland)

The Wedding Crasher
Krakow has some cool architecture as shown here. Nothing beats Prague though
My strategy while in Krakow was to get touristic advice from my host Anna, allowing her to draw me detailed maps, pack me lunches, and then promptly get lost upon setting foot outside, meandering around and altering my course as the wind dictated.
The breeze blows me towards an ancient Catholic Church. Well dressed people are filing inside, I get into the queue, somehow making it in. I’m gazing around at the architecture, the massiveness of this house of worship, my attention is completely absorbed.
People start filling the pews, a deep, somewhat mystical music begins to play, I quickly shuffle over to them, clearing the main aisle. Here comes the bride. Am I the Polish Wedding Crasher? 
Together Forever
Relationship locks
Poles, when they are in a serious relationship, attempt to "lock it down" by venturing atop bridges, writing their names on locks, and affixing them to the bridge's rails. 
As invariably most of these relationships don't stand the test of time, nearby stores remain well stocked with bolt cutters.
river view
Causes of Anti-Semitism?
I happen upon a free tour of the Jewish Quarters of Krakow, tip- 'optional.'
While our group walks to our next destination, two guys, one German, one American, are insisting our poor tour guide be held accountable, or at minimum provide an answer, as to why the Jewish figurines depicted in video below are even allowed to be sold in Poland. Sadly, our guide, gave the unimpressive response that people “need stereotypes.”
The guys show me a picture specifically of the Jewish figurine holding the bag of money. They are outraged, believing that these figures could have come straight from the Nazi propaganda machine of 1940 Germany. 

After seeing the figurines up close personally, and the whole variety of them, I am ambivalent as to whether I have any real issue with them ... If you wish to voice your opinion, please comment in the comment section below the blog.
Jewish figurines in a Krakow store

Jewish Ghetto
Tombstone gates of Krakow Jewish ghetto
 The gates to the Jewish Ghetto are designed were as a warning to Jews- ... what shape do they remind  you of? If you said "tombtone," then you are sadly correct. The gates architect was attempt to warn Jews that entering the ghetto would be their graveyard.

Schindler’s Factory
plaque to Oskar Schindler outside his factory in Krakow
We come to Oskar Schindler’s factory, its story made famous by Steven Spielberg's Oscar winning movie, “Schindler’s List.” The debate becomes whether Schindler, a card carrying Nazi and former spy for the party, was a greedy opportunist, or a humanitarian. 
I say, regardless of his original motives, he saved the lives of over 1,000 people, at great personal risk to himself, when few others would (or did) do the same. To me, that makes him worthy of admiration.

Dances With Jews
We stop at a square, and our guides describe the fact that pre-war, 60,000 Jews lived in Krakow, and the numerous atrocities perpetrated upon. Today there are 100 Jews left in all of Krakow, the population annihilated by the Nazis, and then further decimated by the Soviet Union.

How people can hate their fellow human beings so much, and be able to take pleasure at their misery, pain, and death is beyond me. Even Osama Bin Laden, who I would have shot without a question if given the opportunity, I sincerely hope that I wouldn’t gloat and take pleasure in his demise. 
Discussion Question: Then why do I get elated when I successfully swat a mosquito? And what about about lawyers?
Anyways, after describing some of the horrific acts, deceptions and deeds committed by the Nazis, our guides tried to cheer us up by teaching us Jewish dances, asking for volunteers. I’m the only one to answer the initial call, getting up, and standing next to our guides who have to beg the rest of our group of more than 50 persons for a few more.
“Brave man,” whispers our female guide to me.
I’m always baffled at how fearful and scared most human beings are of letting go of their sense of self, their sense of control, who care so much about what others think of them, even people they will never see again.

Think back to a specific situation you might have found lovely, exhilarating, embarrassing, or sad; it likely seems like a dream in the present moment, did it really even happen? We’re all dreaming this life, don’t take it too seriously. Maybe one day we'll awake inside this dream.
As consciousness awakens, the ego which creates such disharmony and hatred dissolves. Just take a deep breath and realize, in the end, nothing that happens is that important. In the meantime, keep dancing. (even if you don't think you can- prime example below)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Bronx Bomber of Krakow- Taking care of a Giant Squirrel Chasing Labrador Retriever

Krakow, Poland

First off, I want to thank my gracious and kind host, Anna Dabrowska, for taking me in for four nights while I visited Krakow. All I had to do in exchange was take her gargantuan Labrador Retriever, Bronx, who’s size approaches that of a nuclear submarine, but with more speed and power, out for a run every morning.

Bronx, despite having his own gravitational field, is super sweet, and wouldn’t harm a fly.

The same does not necessarily apply to squirrels. Though he has never successfully captured one, Bronx, who speaks very good English, claims that a friend of his managed to once. My bet is that it’s just wishful thinking.
The moment that a squirrel enters Bronxy’s field of vision, he breaks the chains of the leash like Superman snapping a twig, and my frantic command of “Stop!” obviously does not reach his otherwise totally obedient ears, because the speed of sound cannot catch up to him.
So what happened on this fine day was that Lex Luthor the squirrel scrambles up a big oak tree, and Bronxy, nipping at his tail, manages to smash into the oak head first at 1,000 miles an hour, severely denting the oak with his dinosaur sized cranium.
Meanwhile Lex Luthor and all his squirrel minions, rain down a hail of acorns upon Bronx as a token of appreciation for his efforts. This lasts for the entire .003 seconds it takes my pup to recover, owing to the fact that. Labrador Retrievers have the genetic advantage of being immune to any further causes of brain damage.
When I told Bronx this story, he adamantly denied it, slapping his paw on the ground for emphasis.
Bronx's official response: “I have Never ever, ever crashed head first into a tree while chasing a squirrel … Well, at least not while sober.”

Here’s a quick vignette of me and and Bronx, which ends with me starting to sprint away after the big lug scared the bejesus out of a poor, smaller dog in a Krakow park. Generally I tried to find areas with fewer trees.


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Friday, July 22, 2011

Opposite Night in Krakow- Hatred and Love

Opposite Night- Hatred and Love in Krakow

Saturday night. My hosts want to stay in for the evening. I want to at least experience some version of Polish night life, I venture out alone. I walk past Wawel Castle, and in the direction of the old city.
I'm soon lost in a maze of streets, seeing where instinct and fate will take me. The roads seem dead, I almost giving up on finding a night club. I make a turn and walk perpendicular to my original path for fifteen minutes. 
If I was a pirate searching for buried treasure, I just found the Mother Load. Bar after bar after packed bar. 

Standing outside a club. A lead weight stomps down on my foot. The lead weight is drunk, and rather than being aware of his actions and jumping away, he presses down with all his weight. I shake him off.
“Sorry, sorry,” he utters in Polish. I give him a nasty look equal to the physical pain he has carelessly caused me, but no more than that. I walk inside, and glance up at the TV for thirty seconds, watching lingerie models walk the runways in Paris. I slowly meander a bit further in, suddenly I feel an elbow in my back. I am none too gently shoved forwards. 
I turn around. Bald, tattooed thug, thirty pounds heavier than me. Is it possible he tripped, that he is drunk? I walk further into the bar, this time his elbow is even stronger.
Realizing that I am in the presence of vast unconsciousness, I turn around, attempting to walk away from the brute. Thug #2 is up ahead, blocking my way out. He steps in as if to block me, giving me a nasty glare, I sidestep and spin around him.  If there is a fight, it won't even be a fair one. Instinct tells me to leave immediately, I quicken the pace of my steps til I am out the door. Safe. Is it possible I just imagined this danger?
Absolutely not. Thuggy has followed me out, his strides getting longer, his shoulders out in front of him, his arms completely straight, his fists taut at his sides. I raise up my palms in front of me as I walk sideways, clearly stating, "Stay away!"
He speeds up even more, almost seeming ready to break into a sprint. I want no part of this, I speed up accordingly. Finally, realizing he is not going to get the fight he is looking for, he straightens and roars like a mad demon having just vanquished an angel back to heaven. That's okay, keep living in your hell.

I walk away slightly shaken. In my life I have never had someone assault me for not even the semblance of a reason . The only thing I can think of is that he picked up on my momentary anger from having my foot stomped on, and that his own inner pain unconsciously recognized something similar, something it could feed on, that which gives his ego purpose, which sustains it. I hadn't even made eye contact with the guy, hadn't even seen him before he elbowed me in the back.

I start to head home. I finally reach the Main Market Square, realizing that despite the time that has passed since the incident, my body is still in way too much of a fight or flight state. I shake it off, literally attempting to rid myself of the nervous energy via some odd arm movements and bouncing around. Tonight's just not my night, is it?
Main Market Square, Krakow
I breathe in deeply five times, starting to feel for more at peace again. I walk through the square. Near the end, a girl, cute face, approaches me, asking for a light.
"I don't smoke," I say in English.
She ebbs closer to me.
"Come on, a light."
"I don't have one, I'm sorry."
She gives me a silly smile and walks alongside me for a second, then reaches her hand around my waist, walking with me as though we are a couple. I cover my pockets in case she is a pick-pocket, who knows.
We walk for ten seconds like this, as I am always curious what's going to happen next, I'm enjoying the relative novelty of it all .
With her right arm around me, she reaches with her left and grabs my crotch. Okay, she's a pro, doesn't dress like one though. I very gently remove her hand, she looks momentarily sad. I keep walking with her. My crotch is gently stroked again. "You want to?" she asks.
Its just a little weird for me honestly. It's happened before, but ... and admittedly, I hesitate, "Ummm ... noooo." I smile at her.
She walks with me for another minute, I'm cool with that. She's not completely drunk, but I'm sure she's  had some alcohol. She removes herself from my waist, and slowly begins to drift backwards. I turn around and watch her approach another guy, asking him for a light. He doesn't have one, she walks away without a second thought. Apparently she's not a pro.

I walk the long journey home, considering the oddity of the night. From pure vile hatred and anger, to love, at least in some form, the rapid oscillation of which, astounds me even now.
Backpack and schoolbook in hand- walking to class in Krakow apparently

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Death at Auschwitz

I am going to describe two trips I have taken to Auschwitz, neither of which was pleasant. One was in July (present day- text in black) and 1942 (text in red)

present day- I stand for nearly two hours in an over-packed, standing room only bus the entire way to Auschwitz. I’m a bit thirsty but if I guzzle some water I might have to go the bathroom and that would be quite difficult here. By the end of the trip I feel nauseous and dizzy.
Standing room only bus ride to Auschwitz
** 1942-- We are packed like sardines and stuffed onto a train. The stench of raw human sewage overflowing from the few buckets we have to dispose of it is unimaginable, and with such a lack of ventilation, many suffocate on the way there. The trip lasts nearly two days. **

We finally arrive on a cold, stormy day. Thunder claps, rain falls. 
Welcome to Auschwitz, admission is free but you are obliged to employ the services of a guide, please stand in line to pay the cashier.

** Welcome to Auschwitz. Please line up in an orderly fashion. Women and children and the elderly to the left. Men to the right please, where you will undergo a health inspection.
Me and my friends arriving in 1942. We feel special, we have gold stars
Please wait off to the side for your tour to start. The English tour will begin in twenty minutes, please be patient handsome man. 

** Doctors take a cursory look at us, waving almost everyone in front of me onwards without much of a thought. You there, you’ve got a good build, please move to the right. Five thousand men on the long train of human cargo. About 400 of us have moved to the right.

“Thank you for coming, I am your tour guide Olga. Please adjust your radio dial on your receiver to channel two so you can hear me ... I can understand why I don’t see many smiling faces.”

** That Nazi Officer just took the old man out of the line, brought him behind the barracks, and shot him in the back of the head. He's laughing …**

“Have a look at the thousands of eye-glasses belonging to the deceased, collected by the Soviets when they arrived and liberated Auschwitz. 

eye glasses at Auschwitz, 1000's of them. They are just a huge pile
Here we have suitcases, people who wrote their names on them believing they would see their items again. And here we have the shoes of various small children who went to the gas chambers, and oh, look at that, a doll.”
The doll a sweet little girl, brought to give her comfort
** Where’s Dannika?! Oh, wait there is she is with her Mom. They’re in line to get a shower. Okay, the Germans are being very calm, nobody’s hurting anyone. Everyone’s moving in orderly line, and a shower sounds pretty good actually. **

Women and children calmly marching into the gas chamber.
This is the gas chamber where 2,500 people at a time were gassed. Pellets of Cyclone B, made by good Motherland Loving German chemical companies, were dropped in from the roof, emitting cyanide gas. 
Used canisters of Cyclone B- made by the country of eternal smiles and good humor- Germany

It took fifteen minutes agonizing minutes for the process to finish, a very painful way to die, but Germans had a lot to celebrate from the most important standpoint to them- efficiency, as no one was known to have survived.

** “Mommy, I’m so glad we finally get to have a shower … *

Standing in the gas chamber, I don’t know whether it was feeling the heavy energy from all the suffering that had taken place there that I felt into, an intellectual understanding of what had happened, or a combination of the two, but after a couple minutes of gazing around, I doubled over like I had been hit in the stomach, and had to lean against the wall for support.

Inside the gas chamber! I apologize for speaking so softly!

** My assignment, remove gold teeth from the mounds of dead bodies before they are to be burned. Here’s a shovel and some pliers. Tears fall from my eyes, my dehydrated body barely able to stay erect. My heart can’t sink any further, then it stops entirely. There’s my girl, no life in her eyes, a naked, cold, corpse beginning to rot. There’s no reason to live anymore. The Nazis will kill me twice today.

The wall of death in Auschwitz, maybe the best way to go

The madness of the human race. The maya of man. In an effort to create what they believe will be a future utopia, whether it be an Arab Caliphate, a perfect Communist State, or an Aryan World, they create hell in the present moment, in the now. And where else is life ever lived?
This remains my favorite picture of me and Princess Dannika, taken when she was 5. Every moment I have ever spent with you is heaven, except when you misbehave. And baby, would you please stop growing up so fast, soon there will be other boys in your life besides me :(

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Train Ride Towards Auschwitz

Blammo. A bullet exits out my heart.
Prayer, visioning, and meditation, are ineffective in clotting the gaping hole my ego is uncharacteristically pouring from, attempting to repair its sense of “self.”
Leaving Prague now a certainty.
Hail a taxi. Drive quick. Buy a ticket. Sprint. TWEET- the whistle. I toss my suitcase aboard and climb on as the train begins to move.
4:17 AM- Physically exhausted. Mentally, things keep churning.
Unable to sleep, ego winning the battle against the moment, harmony, and consciousness. I close my eyes, to no avail.

Train change. Pregnant Slovakian girl sitting across from me going to visit her boyfriend in Warsaw. “Could I give you a gift? … Would it be okay if do a visioning/prayer for the health of both your child and your relationship?” The typical request one gets on any train ride from a stranger.
Two minutes later she is smiling and at peace, tells me I have just given her a jolt of energy. I feel momentarily sane again, having just given, love remembered.

10:01 AM—The exact time I am supposed to switch trains a second time. Stops are quite infrequent, the train slows and comes to a halt. I only have two minutes to transfer, have to hurry. I exit. Why is there nothing around? Uh oh. The train’s doors close, a man smiles at me through the window as it pulls away, shaking his head, a confirmation that I got off at the wrong stop.
I’m in a small forest, just train tracks running through a wooded area. It’s warm and humid, birds are chirping. I sit there for a minute, enjoying the moment.  There is nothing I have to do. Nature- quiet, stillness, harmony, peace. Several minutes of standing meditation.
Then I realize my hosts are waiting, I am already late.
Lost in Poland by the train tracks
Follow the tracks. The ground is too uneven and soft for wheels to roll. I lug my suitcase by it’s handle above the ground, a fifty pound weight. Four hundred meters later I arrive at a small building, previously obscured by trees. Men there are working on the railroad tracks, maintenance.

They look at me startled, as if I was an apparition materializing from nowhere. The ghost of the world’s dumbest tourist, lugging his heavy luggage forever through the middle of nowhere. Welcome to purgatory.

“How did you get here?” they ask me in Polish, looking around to see if I had cut parachute cords nearby.

My ghost speaks Polish, I manage to communicate that I got off too early, and have now missed my connecting train. They can’t help but laugh. Me too. 
They call me a taxi. While I wait, I marvel that they are repainting a seemingly innocuous metal box by the tracks,  invisible to any passenger, on any train. Perhaps it contains some electrical components, and the paint will function as a barrier to water. 
The attention to detail seems out of left field
For some reason, I love the fact they are painting it. Does anything we do in life really matter that much? The attention to detail, though seeming out of place, makes me smile, perhaps realizing the futility of my mental battle. 
"Where are you going?" one of them asks. 
He shudders. He senses a seriousness in my answer. 
He makes a bad joke, "What, you want to die?" 
I answer in English, "If my 'self' dies, that wouldn't be so bad." 
He looks at me confused. Silence ... Then awareness of the chirping birds, the insects flying around me, the humidity of the air. We maintain eye contact for a moment before he looks down again, going back to painting his metal box. I breathe in deeply. Divine peace. 
That box looks pretty good.

Shaking Down The Tooth in Prague!

Shake Down In Prague

If it was a craps table you could say I had quite a run, going two plus months without rolling a seven, or in this case, being asked to see a ticket for my use of public transport.
Today was my last day in the Czech Republic. I think of walking, but I am carrying a heavy backpack and some groceries, want to save time; one last roll of the dice. Why do I have a bad feeling about this? Nah, I’m not going to take this tram, gotta listen to instinct—whoa, check out that babe! I skedaddle on just before they close the doors.
I take a seat. Where’d she go? Oh, she’s up front now? Good number of people on, hopefully she gets off at my stop, then I’ll chat her up.
Unless the tram is empty, it’s quite difficult even to make eye contact with someone not directly beside you, much less have a conversation with them.
We get to Narodni Divadlo, my stop. She doesn’t move, okay I’ll go one more stop, Cafe Louvre  is exactly between them anyways, it won't cost me much time.
The doors close. A gruff, unfriendly voice “Ticket please!” Oh fuck.
I turn around, two unfriendly looking, surprisingly well built men on the wrong side of middle age with some sort of official badge are shaking down the tram passengers.
I feel my body tense up, an unusual event. I’ve been caught and I know it. I start looking though my bag, pretending to search for ... “I must have left my pass at home,” I explain.
“Follow us off the tram at the next stop.”
The tram stops, pretty girl exits along with us. Impeccable timing.
“You have money?” they ask.
I pull out 70 Czech Krownes in coins out of my pocket. ”You have ID?”
“No, that I left at home.”
“No money, no ID, now I have to call police. The fine is 700 krowne.” (about $42)
The dancing House- Prague
I'm searching for a way out of this, one of the men senses so. His words are all Czech, but the translation is written all over his face. Anger.
“Relax, relax,” I request, trying to calm him down. 
“Where are you from?” asks the other.
“The States.”
“You are allowed to walk around without ID in the states or any money? You get caught they don’t call the police. You don’t want the police to be called here, it’s way worse.”
“Actually, I only need ID when I drive.” I smile, “Let me look for something.”
I pull 1,000 Czech Krowne from a secret stash I keep hidden in my backpack. “Let’s do 300,” I negotiate, “I need the rest of the money for my train ticket tonight.”
“The minimum I can do is 400,” he states, taking my bill and reaching into his wallet for 600 to give me back. I take the change, and walk away. Guaranteed, guaran-fucking-teed they pocketed the 400 Krowne for themselves. Such is life in Prague. 

Lucie and the Taxi

Lucie, beautiful girl. 18 years of age. Born in Czech Republic, moved to the States at 4, growing up in San Fran. I meet her at a vegetarian eatery in the mall. I text her, she texts me back inviting me out with her friends to a club.
We meet there at the M-1 Lounge at 11. She looks much older dressed up. I buy her a glass of wine, (drinking age in Czech is 18) We all start dancing, fun. Good time.
An hour and a half later she's quite drunk. Her friends take her outside. She slumps to the ground, unable to stand. We hail a taxi. One of the guys pays the cabbie and instructs him where to take her. They raise her,  practically carrying her to the car. I'm shocked when they tell the taxi-driver, "Go," as I see Lucy slumped on the backseat, alone. Recalling my brother's then fiancee's late night cabbie experience in Russia, I pray that this is not the set-up to some horror movie.
As the outsider, I was not cognizant of the group dynamics, but I am kicking myself for not insisting in time that someone go with her. I would have gladly accompanied her to insure her safety. I worry for a moment, then realize it's already out of my hands. 'It all happened so quickly,' I tell myself, trying to justify my lack of alertness.
Then her friends decry Americans inability to hold their liquor. "She's 18," her friend Sonia and I echo to the others. Alcohol is likely relatively new to Lucie's life, and hopefully it will not become too familiar a friend. What concerns me is, how in the world did her amigos (me included, though with the aforementioned asterisk) send her home alone??  I'm pretty sure my friends in the States would have handled things very differently. Either these people have way more faith in cab drivers then I do, or it's just plain selfish.

The Shocking Compliment

I see Kate in the mall. A really cute haircut, short on one side, well past her ears on the other, frames a nicely shaped face too. I want to give her a gift. I walk up to her, and sincerely compliment her hair cut. She seems shocked. "Thank you so much. Oh my God. I so wish other people would say such nice things," she pauses, the realizes, "And you're sincere."
"Of course I am."
We start talking. What I meant as a gift turns into an evening with Kate. Two nights later we meet at the bridge. While we're walking to a music festival where a killer blues band is playing, she gushes, "I told my friends that you came up to me in the mall, and what you told me, and they didn't believe me. They didn't think that someone could ever do that."
"Do what?" I ask, a little surprised.
"Nobody ever comes up to people that they don't know here, much less to say something so nice. And with such sincerity. No one. When you said we should get together, I couldn't tell you no. I simply had to find out who was this person that could do such a thing. What makes him tick."

Wow, you'd think was an isolated incident, a pessimistic view of her fellow citizens, that this couldn't possibly be the reality. That there is no way, but ...

It Ain't Heart Surgery

Prearranged date. A different Lucie, a name much more common here than in America. We go out for a glass of wine. She's a doctor. She's moving from the Czech Republic on August 1st.
"Really? Where to? For what?"
"I'd rather not say."
What? I'm surprised. She already seems very comfortable with me ...  such a seemingly innocuous question. I don't push it.
A drink later, somehow the conversation steers itself back in that direction, I almost re-ask the question but catch myself. I just start laughing. I can't help it. She can't help but chuckle, her laugh carves its way into her gut before she stifles it.
A minute or so later she breaks down, and explains that she is taking her dream job, as a heart surgeon in Germany, something she was worked towards all her life.
"How exciting, that's so awesome, congratulations. It takes so much work and perseverance to gain the skill and knowledge that you have, and now you get to take your dream job. I think it's so wonderful. You realize that at some point you're going operate on a child, save their life, and be able to look the parents in the eye and tell them what their baby is going to live."

She tells me that only, maybe, at most five people know. That she keeps it a total secret.
The answer comes, and it's a refrain that I have heard from enough Czechs to know it's not random: "If you tell people here that you are doing well, they try a find a way to cut you down, to bring you back down to their level."
Misery loves company.I know examples of this exist elsewhere in the world, but I have to admit, the energy in the Czech Republic just seems a little bit more heavy in general, depressed. (but not nearly as bad as Moscow)

You Want The Tooth! You can't Handle the Tooth!
To end this on a fun note, I had a real job for the first time in my adult life. Granted I created the position, having a tooth suit mascot costume shipped here to help promote a company owned by someone I whom I would serve endlessly, then I got endorsements like I was NASCAR Tooth, dressed, and went outside the mall, dancing, yelling a bunch of gibberish in Czech, and helping to distribute fliers for laser teeth whitening,
You can see the results in the following video.

And if any of you want laser teeth whitening in Prague visit this link.

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fighting The Jew Hunter in the Czech Republic

Fighting The Jew Hunter:  Prague, Czech Republic

Sitting down. WI-FI hot spot. Calling someone on Skype. Focused on the computer screen. Blindside, someone bumps me hard to my right, nearly knocking me off my chair. Drunk. At 7 PM. He gives a big stupid smile and thumbs up into my web camera. I react, ramming my shoulder into him, knocking him back and out of the way.
"What the fuck are you thinking dude?!"
He staggers away affably, having appeared in someone's video screen he believes. Now they'll know who he is ... Drunk, and an idiot, but no villain.
My webcam was not on.

His friend on the other hand ... has different intentions.
He sits down across me. His demeanor is Christopher Waltz playing the Nazi Jew Hunter in Inglorious Basterds. The air shivers in the vibration of his villainous German accent. "That was not okay," he informs me, steepling his fingers together, wriggling them ever so slightly, like a cat taking his time, about to leap onto a wounded mouse. He's drunk.
the Jew Hunter
There's no possible chance I could have predicted the last ten seconds. I look around, how many Nazi soldiers are there?
Where ever they are, they don't seem to paying much attention to us. I quickly size him up.
"Why are you sitting across from me?" I ask.
"It's a free place, I can sit where I want," the Jew Hunter challenges me. His super cool demeanor might inspire fear in an observer, but being in his midst, his manner was ever slightly undermined  by the palpable leaking of his nefarious intentions.
Anger swells in me. Ego. Territorial invasion. Fighting intentions from another male. I could jump up and pummel him. First to act, huge advantage. Adrenaline flows in anticipation.

Awareness. Of anger, of the feeling. A deep breath, never taking my eyes off him. I have choice in how to react.  Will I let this obviously unhappy, egoic man egg me into a physical fight? Shall I strengthen our egos with my own lack of awareness, this cancerous sense of self that needs continuous feeding.
Consciousness flows. A sense of peace envelops me, yet a readiness.
"Where are you from," I ask for some reason.
"Over the border."
A beat. He challenges me again. "You're from here, right?"
Obviously I am Czech. A sarcastic answer leads down the wrong road.
"No, I'm from America."
 I look across at him, trying to see into him, past his unhappy form. We stare at each other for thirty seconds; might be a world record for males without fists flying. Perhaps what keeps us apart, aside of the table between us, is that there is peace within my stare. For a brief moment the Jew Hunter becomes unsettled.
"Don't look at me," he warns.
"You just sat down at my table, while I was working, in an empty restaurant, and threatened me after your friend crashed into me," I reply with surprising calm. Just stating a fact.
"I do what I want, right?"
I don't respond for a good fifteen seconds. He won't back down. His ego needs is starved. It needs action one way or another.
Calmly, I put my computer into my backpack. "I'm going to leave. You can have the table," I inform him. The Jew Hunter can't mask his smile, his ego has been momentarily satisfied, victorious, at least until next time its insatiable appetite needs feeding.
I get up, and walk towards the door, his form never leaving my site. As I edge closer to the exit, my ego rears it's head, having thought of a sharp remark. I breath into it, and exit the door, consciousness prevailing.
In deep peace, I walk down the street.