Walking around with Rossini in the ear

Rossini's operas are a firework of energy and vitality. ©Charles Thibo
Rossini’s operas are a firework of energy and vitality. ©Charles Thibo

Decades ago, around 1985, I possessed a thing called “walkman”. It was the must-have gadget at the time: a small cassette player with earphones. Actually the first wearable device to listen to music. I was so proud of my white Sony WM-22 – later I had a black DD II model, the Rolls-Royce edition in a metal housing. And I listened to Rossini all the time.

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Lithuanian masterpieces on old cassette tapes

The "White Swan" of Kaunas actually is the town hall, not a church. © Charles Thibo
The “White Swan” of Kaunas actually is the town hall, not a church. © Charles Thibo

In 1992, just a few months after Lithuania had regained its independence from the Soviet Union, I visited my longtime penfriend Jolita Grizickaite in that Baltic republic, heir to the now forgotten but once mighty Polish-Lithuanian kingdom.

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Walk with me through the Garden of Peace!

A serene moment in Vietnam. © Charles Thibo
A serene moment in Vietnam. © Charles Thibo

Today is the third day of official mourning in France. The attacks in Paris initially left me speechless. As a journalist I have covered terrorism for many years. I travelled across Afghanistan, Africa and South East Asia to understand how the world fights Al Qaeda and Jemaah Islamiya. At some point, I decided to quit that dangerous game. Now, terrorism has caught up with me. The train to Paris takes barely two hours. The Islamic State has struck in the heart of Europe, the City of Light. I would not have thought this group of fanatics able to mount simultaneous attacks of such violence in Europe.

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