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Vignettes

During our assignment in Slovakia in 1984, we were watched by the secret police at all times, so in order to stay sane we decided to work and live as if nothing was wrong. Our bilingual 5-year-old daughter Tara, a confident child who quickly managed to learn some Slovak, traveled with us. One day, while vising an old painter who lived in a great baroque structure belonging to a town church, we heard a hard knocking on his doors. Tara rushed to open and the spooks told our host they knew what we were up to, and if he let us photograph his bedroom with its iron bed, gray blanket and a bouquet of flowers he will lose his old age pension: such a picture in NGM would show Slovakia as a poor and barbaric place.  Later, while leaving Slovakia on our way to Austria and traversing the kilometer of no man’s land stretching between high razor wire fences with gun turrets towering above, we both let out a primeval scream of relief, releasing the tension of being under constant surveillance for several months.

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