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A Goy at the Gala

A Goy at the Gala

“Do you speak German?” asked a lady in her 40s, to my left. I hadn’t said much. I had accepted an invitation to the jubilee gala of Hashomer Hatzair at the Rathaus’ lavishly decorated Festsaal – a Jewish youth organisation I knew literally nothing about. Hebrew for ‘youth guardian’, it was, I learned, a Zionist-socialist […]

Buddha and the Art of Motorcycle Breakdown

Buddha and the Art of Motorcycle Breakdown

“I’ll meet you at the door,” were my Buddhist friend’s instructions. It was the 60th birthday of Buddhist monk Bhante Seelawansa at Palais Eschenbach in Vienna, so you would have thought he’d show up. I hovered at the entrance, trying to look as if I belonged. Suddenly, one of the hosts approached, with a smile […]

Infiltrating Austro-American Football

Infiltrating Austro-American Football

The parking lot was nearly empty as we approached the Stadion Stadlau for a football game – American football, that is, between the local teams the Danube Dragons against their arch rivals, the Vienna Vikings. Were we in the right place? Where were the “tailgate” parties I had heard so much about, the lavish picnics, […]

Luring la Vida Loca

Luring la Vida Loca

From the outside it didn’t look like much – I desperately searched the door for some indication of Latin America. Nothing. Not knowing what to expect, I ventured through the door: Colour! Motion! A delicious sense of raucous enjoyment so seldom sensed in this city swept over me. The event was held at the OKAZ […]

The Gate Crasher: Im Kinsky a rear window on art

The Gate Crasher: Im Kinsky a rear window on art

Entering the grand carriage way of the Palais Kinsky, into the Stiegenhaus past the gauntlet of magnificent Baroque statuary up the grand stairway, I was stunned, as is often the case in Vienna, by the surrounding opulence. These palaces have that effect – the kind of red carpeted, marbled luxury that makes you conscious of […]

Toasting the Diplomat Musicians

Toasting the Diplomat Musicians

Ambassador John McGregor’s exquisite piano playing echoes in my mind as we pass the Karlskirche to the French Embassy on Schwarzenbergplatz. We’ve just been to the annual “Ambassadors in Concert” at the Musikverein and, as we stroll along, my friend and I hotly debate the varied skills of diplomats and friends on the programme, among […]

Posing with the Big Boys

Posing with the Big Boys

“Isn’t it funny how people who can afford to pay always manage to get into these things for free?” said a man turning to my date for the evening, the thick smugness dripping from his smile like double cream. I smirked uncomfortably to myself: Gate crashing was a financial necessity to me, but as my […]

Failing at Sailing

Failing at Sailing

For a start, I thought I was pretty cool to be competing at all in a sporting event like this. The fact that I knew nothing at all about the sport, made me, well, badass. My friend Elisabeth, on the other hand, was a pro and had convinced me to accompany her on a regatta. […]

Trying My Luck at Wiener Models

Trying My Luck at Wiener Models

Why weren’t my parties like this? I felt an arm on my shoulder. “You looked bored-I am in the kitchen,” whispered a husky voice. Turning around, I caught a glimpse of two enormous chestnut eyes, before their statuesque owner straightened up and flounced off. I tore my eyes away from her wiggling butt to a […]

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