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  • Writer's pictureKirk

I have a good story that took place in Ireland. I don't like posting travel stories without pictures, however, this is another area I visited that I lost my digital pictures. Many pictures were retrieved from a crashed hard drive, but also a good number lost.

Anyway, this took place in Dublin during St Patrick's Day a few years ago. I was staying in a hotel near St Patrick's Cathedral. This is also the area where the parade terminates.

I was there for a bigger trip of Ireland but I timed the trip to coincide with the parade as I knew it would likely be the only time I ever had the experience. Staying in the heart of Dublin during St Patrick’s Day beside St. Patrick’s Cathedral was a unique experience.

Anyway, on to the Parade. I had chosen a good viewing area where I could be close to the roped off area. I had to travel a bit from my hotel to find a suitable location where I could stand unobstructed next to the rope, but I was indeed able. Quite a chore in itself.

The Parade started and was a little bit underwhelming to me anyway. I guess my expectations were high as I had visions of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in my head, so it was hard to live up to that image. Please don’t misunderstand me, it was still an excellent parade with bands from all over the world participating, but I just had too much anticipation of grandeur.

The point of this story, though, is really to relay what happened at the end of the parade. As the parade was marching past my location, and as I looked out over the crowd on the streets, I knew it was going to be quite a task to make my way back to the hotel next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. but I also remembered that this is where the parade ends. So I got the idea of why not just go under the rope and join the tail end of the parade and follow them back to the cathedral?

I didn’t witness any security guards or anything that would prevent such an event. So I quickly ducked under the rope and just started walking at the tail end of the parade. Nobody took notice, no one said a word. And so I just marched on towards the cathedral and my hotel.

At first, I was just walking along, trying to mind my own business and hoping nobody would pay attention to me. But then I noticed the young kids were holding out their hands so that I could give them a high five as I walked by. They thought I was part of the parade and they wanted some attention of the people in it. I was happy to oblige.

Quickly, I got into the mood and just pretended. I was part of the parade, giving out the high-fives to the kids as I walked by and they stretched their arms across the rope. I was in the parade itself, with no particular uniform or anything distinguishing myself as somebody who should be in the parade. But it didn’t seem to matter to the kids who were watching it.

I eventually made it to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and ducked back under the rope near my hotel. I had made it in record time I believe. I don’t think I did anybody any harm by my stealthy deception. In fact, I think I made even a few kids happy by giving them some attention along the way. And I certainly gave myself a big boost in saving a boatload of time making it back to my hotel.

Anyway, that’s the most memorable part of my visit to the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin Ireland. An event that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

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She stared from her front porch at the only world she ever knew. Not much to look at, but the familiarity brought her a sense of security. Today she hopes to see a neighboring playmate, to ease her boredom.

She’s a cute child of all of 6 years. A bit small for her age by Western world standards, but then she lives in the Far East. Her black eyes are not foretelling of much, other than she longs for something. Something more than is available within the walls of her home. Her thick, black hair pulled back in a ponytail to keep away from her eyes, something a mother sees as a safety precaution.

The cute little China doll is wearing one of the three dresses she owns. Today it is the pink one. Clothes are more scarce in her family as there are no hand-me-downs. No siblings within those walls to have worn before. In a farming economy things are always tight, except for the rice. There’s always rice….

The China Doll is a product of the “One-Child China Policy”. The policy began in 1979 and was modified several times before just recently being abolished in 2021. The large fines levied by the government is intolerable to violate on their modest farming income. Although the law is lifted now, her parents cannot afford another child. So she will remain an only child for life.

Today she stares out across her small village. Not many outside today so she only gazes out, dreaming of just one friend with whom she can share this day. Not wanting to go back within those lonely walls. Mother does her best to entertain, but it’s just not the same. So she stares on…

The pathway to her home is deserted. No sights nor sounds. The older children are already to work in the farms. A necessity in a One-Child world. Farming requires much manual labor and children only a year or two older than her are put into the fields. So much work to do with fewer hands.

China Doll was born female, so that might buy her a year or two reprieve from the manual field work. But not the housework. She has her house chores even at this tender age and she knows she cannot put those off much longer. But for a few more minutes, she continues in her reveries.

Most of her world consists of the 350 square feet within her walls. Kitchen and living area are combined. A mattress pulled out for floor sleeping at night. Only a small bathroom for a private moment. But she’s grateful for that as many she knows have outdoor toilets.

The bigger world she lives in is this small village. She hasn’t even explored all of that yet. Her mother restricts her movements and as a result her world is really no more than 500 feet from her doorstep. Anything further is still a mystery to her. But at least she can see farther than that from her elevated porch.

The girl looks out at an older lady doing the family wash in the small stream that runs through the heart of the village. That multi- purpose waterway that serves the community. The main form of entertainment for China Doll.

She knows the old lady by site only as she’s never actually met her. She lives too far away, and mother would never allow. So she just stairs and watches as her only form of entertainment this morning.

Young girl doesn’t know yet the life that is before her. It hasn’t been completely revealed to her. There are no social programs available for the elderly here so when the old lady that she is watching is no longer able to do the wash, there is no program to fall back upon. No one to do the work, except for the younger members of the family. And in a One-Child China, the burden falls squarely on the lone child.

She doesn’t know yet that her parents will one day give out from the work. Farm work is hard on the body and it causes people to grow old before their time. The body wears out prematurely, unable to heal itself, and only the broken frame remains.

She will have to deal with all this as she ages. No siblings to help to share in the load, the burden of her parents will fall upon her and perhaps her husband one day. But that’s another day, not today.

Life can be brutal in the small villages. But for now she’s insulated from that knowledge. So she stares out at the only world she has ever known, for a few more minutes. Then her mother calls out, it’s time to start those chores she has put off. China Doll exits the porch and goes back into those 350 square feet, her real world….


This is a fictional Friday post in that I do not know the actual story of this young girl. However, the One-Child China policy was real, and the burdens that it created are equally as real. Although this may not be her personal story, it is the story of many that are resultant from this policy.

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I think I’ve been lucky so far. I do see a lot of in flight behavior that annoys me, but I have never seen something worthy yet of turning the plane around. But, happily, those are pretty rare events.

On a recent flight I was not yet upgraded to first class (being American Airline Ex zat member) and was seated in my economy seat of 8D. The seat was the 1st row in economy so I was a seat behind the first class section. So, I had first hand view of the premium flyers.

We were waiting for the luggage to load when a man in the 3rd row of first class started talking loudly to anyone who would listen. He obviously came on the flight intoxicated and first thing he did was ask the flight attendant for a drink. He then began openly complaining of how he had been flying since 10 pm the prior night. I think he did it so others might prompt where he was coming from. The lady behind him bit, and they engaged in conversation. A very loud one.

Turns out she was a bartender so she was accustomed to patrons acting in this manner. They then began this long, loud discussion about how much bartenders get paid and many other boring topics (to me anyway). This continued for some time as we waited for the luggage to load and clear to pull from the gate.

I regret I never thought to film the truly bad and obnoxious parts but I did film part of this loud discussion. But, I decided not to portray it here out of respect for privacy (even though they were not being very private). They were in a public domain and I can legally share it here by I think it better not to expose.

Anyway, just before they closed the door for take off the counter lady boarded and told me there was a remaining first class seat if I wanted it. I thought a moment before I accepted. Did I really want to be seated with this “first class” crowd?

I ultimately decided I would, since I was already only one seat away from the madness. I was happy I did, as the man who obviously had too much to drink passed out and slept almost the entire flight.

The incident made me recall another drink incident that happened in Malaysia. A very big man came into the first class section intoxicated. I remembered him from the gate area as he was being loud and entertaining any who would listen to him. And he had a large crowd laughing with (at?) him.

When he came on the flight and asked for a drink the flight attendant refused him. He then got very loud, to the point the head flight attendant came to him and asked him to get off the plane. He argued to no avail and eventually left peacefully (thankfully).

I was seated across the aisle from him and the head flight attendant came to me after and apologized for having to put up withit. I told her how grateful I was for her courage (this was a big, drunk man).

For veteran travelers, these are the things you inevitably come across when you pack a few hundred people in close proximity in a metal can. It’s not always pleasant, but I think the unpleasant events are rare enough it keeps me boarding.

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