A waiter on the streets of Paris who is important to the story of an old man and his friend in Paris
A waiter on the streets of Paris who is important to the story of an old man and his friend in Paris
Waiter on the Street (Source: JG-House)

“Watch where you’re going, Little Man,” Sylvere said, speaking in Kikongo and placing his hand on the head of the small boy. Sylvere stood next to the open drawer of his desk inside the room he used as an office at his modest but comfortable two-story house in the old section, built in the ’70s, of Combs-la-Ville not far from the municipal swimming pool. He had been looking for some documents which he never did find. …

Three Small Girls in Benin
Three Small Girls in Benin
Three Small Girls (Source: JG-House)

Sylvere placed his saxophone next to its case on the small stage, walked to the bar, and sat on a stool near one end, staring into the black, heavy night. Outside it was hot and humid, but inside it was cool and comfortable. A large air-conditioning unit, humming along softly, was set into the opposite wall, not far from an archway which led to an adjoining room with about 25 tables and a larger number of chairs. Summer in Paris, he said to himself, is getting hotter every year.

Sylvere turned back toward the bar and ordered a glass of…

Under Cover of Night — Departure from Dakar
Under Cover of Night — Departure from Dakar
Young Father with Two Daughters (Source: JG-House)

Rain falls. Gustavo can hear it. The drops pound the glass of the bar’s lone window, closed to the black night beyond. But what happens here no longer matters to him. He is leaving.

The television in front of Gustavo displays video and projects audio from a news program. He can see a woman — young, pretty. He can hear her voice, too.

The woman delivers a report from the newsroom of one of those international networks. She speaks in careful English, with an American accent, as she recounts the outcome of a vote at the United Nations. …

Under the Dark Water: Royal Valley, Davao
Under the Dark Water: Royal Valley, Davao
Old Man, Royal Valley, Davao, Mindanao (Source: JG-House)

I met Rachel, a coordinator for a non-governmental organization, at a restaurant called Mesa. She wore a long, white dress and told me that she had trained as a nurse. It was 11:30 on a Sunday morning. During the night, an intense rain storm had moved onto the island of Mindanao from the Celebes Sea. Now it seemed the storm had passed. The sun had emerged, and the heat and humidity had settled back over the city of Davao.

In front of a pair of glass doors, Rachel handed me a dossier, which we had discussed on the phone, and…

Young Woman on a Motorbike, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Young Woman on a Motorbike, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Woman Commuting on a Motorbike (Source: JG-House.com)

At 9:00am, Lan and I finished breakfast and left the dining room on the 2nd floor of Hotel Vissai to go to the Golden Smile Clinic. It was on Ký Hoà Street in District 5 of Ho Chi Minh City, about 30 minutes away. The previous night a new patient, from Australia, had arrived. The woman, Mary Lynn Tefford, lived in Canberra, Australia.

“She will be at my mother’s clinic at 10:00,” Lan said as we rode down in the elevator. “She phoned two weeks ago. She flew in yesterday.”

We exited the lobby and waited on the sidewalk in…

Young Visayan Man in a Strange World
Young Visayan Man in a Strange World
Kobe, Davao, Mindanao (Source: JG-House)

It was a Saturday evening in Davao, at the southern tip of the Philippines, one week after a massive rally for Rodrigo Duterte, the nation’s new president, in a local park. It was Kobe’s birthday. The summer afternoon had been hot, and the evening, which had settled into a very warm night, was stretching out.

The taxi driver brought his small, white Toyota to a halt. “Pwede?” the man said. He turned around and glanced into the back seat. Jogie, sitting next to me, spoke Bisaya, but she said nothing. I looked at her. …

Black, White, and Blue in Saint Louis, Senegal
Black, White, and Blue in Saint Louis, Senegal
Boy, Old Town, Saint Louis, Senegal (Source: JG-House)

When a few minutes before 3:00pm, our driver, Joseph, who had said little since we left Dakar, drove us into Saint Louis on the border with Mauritania, I felt my anxiety rise. The Fulani man, wearing a short-sleeved, button-down dress shirt and black slacks, navigated his Peugeot across the bridge in silence.

The bridge, called Pont Faidherbe, in honor of a French civil servant who almost became mayor of Saint Louis, appeared to be quite old, but it was not. It was roughly the same age as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, designed by Gustave Eiffel before he became famous.

Teen-agers, Moscow, Russia (Source: JG-House)

The moment I took the final step up the wide staircase and reached the third floor of the MS Sergei Yesenin, I stopped and looked out the window of the door leading to the upper deck of the boat.

I could see part of my traveling group in the open air, against a view of downtown Moscow. In my hands rested my Pentax 645, a medium-format camera fitted with a 90-millimeter lens.

A few minutes before, in my stateroom on the second floor, I had been downloading images from my camera to my MacBook Pro. …

Locals and tourists ride the subway in Moscow, Russia (Source: JG-House)

That night on the boat I finished reading the yellowed pages of Notes from the Underground. I looked over the railing of the ship’s upper deck into the Moscow River, feeling the warm June air, realizing I had read the same book too many times. The water in the river was filthy.

I wondered what Dostoevsky, who wrote about Moscow in the 1860s, would have to say about modern-day Russia. Probably life under the czar wasn’t so different from life under Putin.

The next morning, at breakfast, around 7:30, our tour leader, the beautiful Natasha, said the plan for the…

The Death of Pelopid

Johanna had been waiting for this moment a long time. A day before, the 40-year-old woman from Holland had talked about her love of Russian literature. Earlier that day, she had mentioned she studied art history in school in Amsterdam. But, despite trips to various parts of Europe over the years, she had never visited the Tretyakov Museum, home of the world’s largest collection of Russian fine art, in Moscow.

Now Johanna stood before an oil painting, The Death of Pelopid, by Ivanov Andrey Ivanovich, in one hall of the sprawling Tretyakov Museum. …


Investigating the intersection of climate change, socio-economic development, and public health

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