I’ve pinned my badge to my jacket lapel:
The security man scans it. A thin, red line crawls over it like a single spider leg. I step into the giant, dome-shaped Olympia building. I think: Dante’s Inferno. No, Purgatory, since there’s hope of redemption and success in all who enter.
Three days of a huge market crammed with stalls, displays, banners, desks, stages and counters, heaving with people buying, selling, promoting, negotiating, haggling. Hundreds of voices rise to the vault and blend into a unique, steady drone that fills your skull and continues buzzing in your ears even when you go to bed at night.
In the central aisle, a row of young men and women in turquoise T-shirts offer a shoulder massage. A few minutes’ relief from the tension within and without. On my first morning, I breeze past them. On…
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