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The Boston Globe

Travel

The question that tests diplomacy: ‘How was your vacation?’

I faced a quandary. A few years ago, my family and I found ourselves staying in the same Tel Aviv hotel as Justin Bieber (we came upon him pouting near the breakfast room). When we returned home, it was to the expected question: “How was Israel?” But here was my problem. If I started with the Bieber brush, I’d sound really shallow. But if I didn’t mention our proximity to the global star until the end, people wondered why I’d buried the lead.

The art of the debrief was on my mind recently because we went to Israel again, and again when I returned everyone dutifully asked, “How was it?” I could see their gaze heading toward their iPhones as I launched into a description of an exotic nighttime trip to the tomb of Samuel, the prophet. Then, almost to a person they’d suddenly snap awake. “You went to Israel before, didn’t you? You saw Justin Bieber.”

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