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On the Horn

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For one thing, among them there was almost no interest whatever in white, yellow or brown. Forget it. The uncovering alone was a major put-off. Somehow during her studies at the nearby university Gia Khanh Nhu Nguyen - called Na at home - had settled on 'Alex" as a handle in the new country. (The accent and intonation of course vastly difficult.)

NB. For Viet Thank you a fairly straightforward two-step that has delighted waitresses the length and breadth of Footscray: gam' er (hard "a" as in argue).

The Niles

A Dinka herdsman carrying a copy of Dale Carnegie under arm. A few days before it had been the Somali-Dutch author who caused such a ruckus some years back with her feminist attack on Islam. The second afternoon it took a while to realise it had been the same man involved. On the earlier occasion he had sat at the window table with three or four compatriots, one of whom came across to introduce himself. Bol had been a child soldier, dragooned at fourteen to fight in the South Sudanese war of independence. The man had compiled a 40,000 word MS about his experience with the help of an Australian woman who had subsequently fallen ill, leaving the prospective book in limbo. After fifteen years in Australia Bol’s English was excellent, a good proportion of the time having been spent in the local university library. Bol was the name given to a male born after twins (Nyibol for female): an impressive young man of direct gaze and easy smile. As might have been guessed from his reading the Dale Carnegie, he was a different kettle of fish. Gap-toothed, hesitant and uncertain. Having his reading matter interrogated on two occasions couldn’t have helped, and one of the Eritreans had given the Somali author short shrift in a side comment. 

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