The year was 1985.
I and my family had been staying at the InterContinental, in Nairobi, in an elegant set of rooms that opened into a spacious veranda, overlooking the Nairobi National Park.
We, along with other United Nations personnel, had been evacuated from Kampala on a recent dawn, grayed by the acrid smoke from the shelling of the city, in the wake of a coup d’état that toppled the nation’s president Milton Obote and put in power the military dictator Yuweri Musaveni.
We’d been moved from the turmoil of terror and uncertainty to a cocoon of safety and comfort of a five-star hotel in neighboring Kenya.
I’d been yanked out of school, a development that didn’t upset me, in the least. 24/7 television—interrupted only by sleep and meals—leisurely shopping trips, African safaris, and sightseeing, were bonuses I couldn’t have hoped for in the normal course of events.
Nothing seemed better to me at that age than hamburgers, blue jeans, Lacoste T-shirts, flying, and TV, wrongly maligned in that era as the “idiot box.”
Glued to the plush sofa of the living room, I’d watch television to gay abandon, clinging to the movie channels far more than I’d ever clung to my mother’s apron strings.
It was in those, what I consider my halcyon days, that I was introduced to my very first James Bond flick. Oh, what an impression they made—indelible. The gun barrel sequence, the seductive signature tune, the Martinis (“shaken, not stirred”), the Aston Martin, the tuxedos, the verbal wordplay, the casinos, the gadgets, the Cold War, the exotic locales.
I watched with rapturous joy, each and every 007 installment made until then, starting with “Dr. No,” released in 1962. I fell strangely in love with them. And they tugged at my imagination in weird ways.
In “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977), I’d seen Roger Moore at the son et lumière at the Giza, seated in the dappled shadows of the majestic pyramids. A few days later, I found myself in Cairo, moseying along the same golden sands as had Mr. Bond.
If Vienna, London, Istanbul, San Francisco, were places his assignments took him, my dad’s job took us to Johannesburg, London, Rome, New Delhi, Washington, D.C. Secretly, I dreamed, as only a child can, of following in the geographic footsteps of my favorite spy.