Born behind the Iron Curtain in the twilight of the People's Republic of Poland, where the economy was in free fall but they were still rounding up dissidents. Escaped, thanks to some ballsy brinkmanship, to Nigeria, where my first point of business was to contract and then fend off malaria. Ended up in a refugee centre in Austria where some good things happened (got accepted to Canada!) and some unspeakable things (one day I will tell you about the Krampus). By the age of four I had bested both the anopheles mosquito and Marxism-Leninism.
Settled in Kelowna and semi-assimilated, with the locals complimenting me on my accent (think Chekov from the new Star Trek) well into my mid-teens, when I finally lost the accent (though I’ll read the menu with an accent for you if you want).
Ended up at a snooty Ivy League school, a scholarship kid among Anglo princes whose family fortunes date back to the triangle trade. Here I developed a love of learning, a keen nose for character and a suspicion of men with perfectly parted hair.
After that, a spell travel writing for Let's Go, facing down rioting militia men in West Timor and angry tarantulas in Arizona. After earning an MA in Poli Sci in California, I took a job in Dubai, working with a bunch of ex-CIA types; spending my mornings eating eat cactus fruit with a Bedouin family in the Arabian desert, my afternoons shopping for armoured cars and entertaining Iraqi sheikhs on weekend junkets to Beirut, my evenings watching prison-tattooed Russian skinheads luxuriate in the spa on top of the world's only seven star hotel, and my nights clubbing with Emirates Airlines cabin crew one too many times.