I had only a few minutes until closing time, and Highgate Cemetery was a mile and a half away. On our last afternoon in London, my wife and I had each gone off on our own for several hours. While she prowled Oxford Street, I decided to visit Highgate, the cemetery where Karl Marx and numerous literary figures are buried. I invited our host, Frederick, to go with me -- he'd never been. In Frederick's kitchen, we debated whether we could get there before it closed at 5 p.m., and decided we could make it if we took a taxi. He put on his green fedora and we walked to the dispatch office a few blocks away. A neon sign reading "Cabs" pointed toward the entrance. One of the drivers, a husky middle-aged man, held the door as Frederick went to the dispatcher to ask for a car. In a thick accent I couldn't identify, the driver in the doorway said he'd take us, and gestured to his car parked at the curb.
"We're going to Highgate Cemetery," Frederick told the driver after we climbed in. "We're going to see Karl Marx's grave."
"The communist," the driver said as he drove up Dartmouth Park Hill. "Finished. The communists are finished."
"Where are you from?" Frederick asked.
"I'm from Turkey," the driver said. "I am Kurdish."
"Do you think you're going to get your homeland soon?" Frederick said.
"Is almost finished," the driver said. "In five, 10 years, we will have a homeland. The daddy American will make our home." It was such a quirky turn of phrase that I took to mean President Obama, but before I could ask, he added: "It will be the new Jerusalem."
Frederick turned to me, delighted by the expression. "Did you hear that? The new Jerusalem!"