【明報專訊】If I've forgotten my ’’cultivated Russian accent’’ and the details of Doner's many exploits as a boy in Russia's civil war, I haven't forgotten what he told me about his marvelous adventure soon after he landed in New York City. He'd been met at the docks by an uncle he knew only by name, and while they were walking across lower Manhattan to his uncle's house, at one point he saw a number of workmen on ladders hovering above the sidewalk. They were painting or repairing a sign, and whereas his natural inclination was to give them and their ladders a wide berth, his uncle insisted that they walk directly under each of the ladders. It made no apparent sense, but sooner rather than later Doner was to discover that his uncle had his reasons for tempting fate. He learned that on his first night in his uncle's small flat on Manhattan's East Side beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. They had lunch, they drank a little wine, they talked at length about family and home, and when night fell a foldaway cot was set up in the front room. Exhausted from the journey and the excitement of finally being in America, Doner got into bed and the lights were turned off as the uncle disappeared into his bedroom and shut the door.