dimanche 7 août 2022

CUBA AND MALAYSIA AND NOW IRAN SO MUCH OF MY HEART IS TETHERED TO THESE COUNTRIES ..

 The morning was still young, a text message arrives from Kuala Lumpur, do you have time to talk? it said 


It was KO, the former Malaysian ambassador to Cuba. We became friends in Havana and had been able to continue our friendship with chats and also brief visits while I was in KL, pre-covid.

I was so excited about the news he had to tell me .

Cuba and Malaysia have been close friends ever since Malaysia became an independent country from the British rule.


the long term PM of Malaysia, Mahathir, did not kowtow to USA demands and that earned him the respect of Fidel. 

The previous ambassador was Mr J S a very pleasant representative of Malaysia who currently is its ambassador in Thailand.



The Cuba connection had also led me to become friends with three consecutive Cuban ambassadors to Malaysia with whom I could share some light moments during my visits to Malaysia. Pedro is in Sao Paolo, Carlos in Washington DC and Ibete, I am not sure where is her new posting. 

So Cuba and Malaysia strengthened each other in my heart, two countries so different but with a belief in friendship. I am also lucky that my circle of friends in KL began to grow as well.



Ho, champion GO player, a connoisseur of Films and ex-President of Mahler Society of Malaysia

My closest friend who recently graduated with a PhD from Monash Malaysia  Yong Mun Ching 

and the entertaining Mr A with a load of talent in the world of Media.

An Old love was kindled , in KL, that of PERSIA which had begun in childhood when my father returning from Abadan said: Persian is a most beautiful language, there are 32 ways to express Smile in that language. I was smitten ..

 YMC who was to become a very close friend, not only introduced me to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali but also rekindled a love for Persian Literature .. she gave me a copy of Shanameh and we talked about Rumi.

When Mr A cooked us an AWADI dinner I realized that this prince of a man was descended from actual princes of the Moghul Court, Pesians who ruled India for 500 years.. 

NM came from Karaj to KL bringing poems of Shamlou, Farough F, Soheil Nafisi and the movies of so many excellent directors..

She also brought Hafez.. to our consciousness, the most widely consulted book in Iran much to the dismay of the Mullahs.

So Kuala Lumpur was bringing me closer to Iran which was a magical mystical dream from childhood.

2011 was a good year .. Ashgar Farhadi and The Separation ..

Mr Ho started traveling to Tehran to pick up Iranian movies for Malaysian audiences. Makhmalbouf. Panahi (his White Baloon was the first Iranian movie that I consciously watched and absorbed).

In KL, my love for Iran strengthened. I really have to thank NM..

( i am listening to Mohsen Yeganeh ..Behet Ghol Midam)

Just a day or two ago, I was thinking of Ambassador OK, whom I have not seen 2019. American Indians say, things do not happen without a reason, it is just that we are not smart enough to figure it out.

Do you have time to talk, Dr S ?

I am never too busy for my friends 

He then teased me , just guess where I am being posted, starting mid- September?

Dont tell me where but give me just one clue.. He did and I said:

Dont tell me you are going to IRAN 

He said, yes , I am going to Iran and I wanted you to know because i know you love Iran . I hope you will help me promote Malaysia in a good way in Iran 

I was so so excited

Iran one step closer to my heart. Even if I cannot visit that beautiful country under the current circumstances here is a chance for me to play a small part in Malaysia-Iran relationship, considered a very important one (historically and diplomatically)

Immediately i got to work, Few years years earlier, Dr Tan of the Cheng Ho society had asked me whether I could lead an expedition to Hormuz island where the indefatigable Chinese Admiral had stayed on his voyages to the Persian Gulf and East Africa. (Long before Europeans "discovered" sea routes to the East). There must be some connection, trade wise and also the common religion (interesting to note that both Iranians and Malays are converted Muslims as noted by VS Naipaul in his book Among the Believers)

The search opened up a wealth of information which would forward to Ambassador KO


I had fun telling KO about the Persian influence on the "Indian food" as we know it in the west and also in India and East, such as Biryani and many of the Moghul dishes and also the Awadi cuisine of the courtiers of the Moghul emperors.

I am truly excited to know that a friend of mine would be the next ambassador from Malaysia to Iran. Iranian post graduate students are eager for knowledge and Malaysia has many temples of knowledge and Iranians are warmly welcomed in Malaysia.

There used to be three daily flights from Tehran to Kuala Lumpur before the Toman took a nose dive. Currently there is only once a week flight by Mahan Air, the pariah airline of the Aviation world which would cease its operations to KL as of next week. 

Good ways of flying between KL and Iran (Tehran or Mashhad)

Qatar Airways and any of the other Gulf airlines including Oman Air, Etihad, Emirates as well as Turkish airlines. 

I personally would prefer Qatar Airways .. but the time has not arrived yet for me to fly to Iran,

Thank you for this good news, KO.


I will end this blog with yet another photo of Mahathir with the new ambassador of Malaysia to IRAN.

vendredi 5 août 2022

SHABBAT SHALOM ESPECIALLY TO MY FRIENDS IN IRAN, MALAYSIA AND THE TURTLE ISLAND AS THE INDIANS CALL THEIR OCCUPIED COUNTRY

I was eager to light the candles tonight, as the sun sunk over a gorgeous horizon lit by the  candle  that is the Sun being passed over to the other side. (so that the children can enjoy the candlelight)

As the candle that you are, as you burn, you need to light other candles then there would be always light say the Shuar Indians of Ecuador 

La petite poete de cote sauvage is in London, my little brother is waiting for me in Haifa and a lovely Kerala Christian meal at the home of practicing and pious orthodox christians in Cochin..and there are always unexpected pleasures  ..


I had my MESA ready where in addition to the two candles welcoming Shabbat, there are other symbolic miscellany and those who needs to know will know. I had only one prayer, and that was for my Sister in Cuba.


i felt the breeze of many a breaths, from the hearts of my friends, stationary or about to travel..I wish them all  well.


To those who are in my thoughts, my mishpochah in Haifa, Portland, Boynton Beach and  the island of Cuba, the land of  Israel

friends with shared memories in parts of the USA , those who disappeared into the oblivion of Germany, Brasil, Iran, France ...

you are in my heart..

AS RUMI said 


We are here on this earth, according to my 8 year old philosopher niece, so that we can fill ourselves up with knowledge and help others. It is our Mitzvah, it is our Duty. 

I am never impressed with what you have done for yourself, but i am impressed with what you have done for others. 


SHABBAT SHALOM 

Did Antonin Artaud, who had heavily influenced Michel Foucault, describe one of his characters saying

I, said the man, am a Jew.

Ditto.

DJEM AL FINA YOU WILL FIND ME AT FRUIT COUNTER NO 43 OF CHEZ HAMID AS THE SUN SETS





 
enjoying the organized chaos that is so metaphoric of life, each night i wandered through the souks, giving a salaam here and a shalom there, in this ancient city. I felt i was with my brothers and sisters, the Berbers of Morocco





mardi 2 août 2022

THE WOODCARVER OF MARRAKECH A BERBER FRIEND OF ISRAEL, IN FACT MOST BERBERS SEEM TO LIKE ISRAEL AND JEWS

Berbers are good at wood carving and the above plaque caught my attention as I was wandering around the narrow streets near Riad58Blu. I walked in and the old man spoke very good french (better than mine) and we had a nice chat. The above woodwork which may be a hundred years old might end up in Mashhad in Iran.
 
I will meet Le petite poête de Côte Sauvage at the end of next month and also this was an occasion to introduce this artisan to the Hebrew alphabet. He worked non stop and by the time I returned from my foray into the early night at Djema al fina, the plaque was ready.

Marrakech is unbearably hot in Summer and if you do get there before I do in November, please stop by and say Hello 



THE BARBER OF MARRAKECH ..I MAY HAVE TO HOP ACROSS THE MEDITERRANEAN FOR MY NEXT HAIR CUT

 




Ishmael (are we not brothers? he of ishamael and I of Israel?) suggested this haircuttery very close to Riad58Blu within walking distance of Djema al Fina.

It turned out to be an experience. The barber who is a Berber (Morocco is predominantly Berber, occupied by the Arabs and forced to adopt their religion) who did not speak a single word of English or French. Fortunately, there was another one waiting for his services who could speak both French and Spanish so we were okay for communications.

Habibi shouted the barber in his coarse voice as he danced around the chair and the hair cut was good also. I liked it .

For my next hair cut, I will fly from Paris to Marrakech.

Flight 250 dollars 

Hair cut 5 dollars 

Friendship Priceless

vendredi 29 juillet 2022

CAPITALISM OR GREED. PRICING OF MEDICAL SERVICES IN THE USA

 For a rich and developed country (slipping in the ranks as days roll by and other progressive countries are stepping in), USA has one of the most complicated medical care system based on personal insurance, personal responsibility for payment, no control of pricing of doctors and laboratory or other services. Even the government is not able to control the prices of medications and insurance premiums and it is not unusual for people to face rack and ruin facing illnesses for which effective but extremely expensive medications are available.

I work in humanitarian medicine in various countries and lack of medication is a feature. and to be able to make them available to the poor people at no or very near low cost. Recently I was able to take one whole suit case full of medications in my specialty (Endocrinology) to donate to a county close to my heart.


what about poor people who live in a rich country who cannot afford the necessary medications?

there are hundreds of examples and I will give you one simple example 

Steroid drops for eyes, used in inflammatory diseases of the yes

Even if you have good insurance, the pharmacy would charge you 33 dollars for a 5 ml bottle (very small). Recently I had to resource it from my favourite country for Medication  INDIA


the medication bought in a pharmacy by a person who has very good medical insurance, was priced at 33 dollars USA. the one on the right, twice the size was priced at 50 cents USA.

This is not capitalism my friends, this is sheer greed and like many things in the USA, the wealth is made on the sufferings of the many. 

Lots of places in the world where I work would be happy to receive a few bottles of Prednisolone Acetate Opthalmic Suspension.

You can compare any medications , The American system will pry from your pocket as much money as money. A recent request from Suriname for a successful medication for treatment of Multiple Myeloma was priced at 6000 dollars per month in the USA and 120 dollars in India .. 

This is called GREED. Not capitalism and they want the entire world to follow it ? 

jeudi 28 juillet 2022

WHEN ONE DOOR IS CLOSED ANOTHER IS OPEN, SANG BOB MAREEY. THE SAGA OF MAQROLL AND CARAVANSARY

CARAVANSARY AT TABRIZ IRAN 

Eventhough we tend to associate Caravansary with the Silk Road and the Arab and Turkic traders, they were found in Iran hundreds of years earlier, during acheamened rulers 2500 years ago.

During my travels through central asia, I did not stay at any caravansary but was acutely aware of the presence of them, as an arquitectural memory and also in the discourse of the people.

But my own association with Caravansary is far removed from the levantine desert traveller's inns but with the lyrical poetry of Alvaro Mutis, creator of Maqroll with whom I identify strongly.

On a visit to New York, one of the magazines devoted to the Americas (hey Yanks, there is more to the Americas than your United States), i read four poems by Alvaro Mutis and I remember them distinctly to this day. 

On a visit to Medellin, my gracious hostess, Amparo Jaramillo, gifted me a copy of Caravansary by Mutis along with a copy of a recently published novel by Gabo, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, El amor del tiempo del colera

I enjoyed and fancied myself as the Maqroll who dressed himself as a travel agent, depicted in the poem Caravansary, who try to enter the west african country of Ivory Coast by using a cookbook in Tagalog language as identification.

Alvaro Mutis and his presence grew stronger. Halcyon the slanting cargo ship owned by Maqroll's friend  Abdur Bashur appeared in many of my travels, I did go to Pollensa in Baleares to pay respect to that memorable boat.

A dear friend promised me a copy of this book, my own copy had been devoured in a fire in a decaying reservation of a group of Indians. But she took her copy and departed behind the veil of oblvion where she rests restlessly clutching on to a copy.

Imagine my surprise today when a small packet arrived  and when i opened, to my great surprise , was a copy of Caravansary from a friend who disappeared into the clouds long time ago, but recently emerged after falling in love with the city of eternal spring, Medellin. Thank you for this very gracious gift, very thoughtful gift


Gracias Muito Obrigado Merci Beaucoup Shukran 

Maqroll El Gaviero became my alter ego and I became Maqroll El Gaviero Judio with a good friend Abdur Bashur, the lover of palms and many others from the latin american literary dream world...

Here is an excerpt from the CV of Maqroll El Gaviero Judio.


...On receiving a note from the Malabar coast that home of an aging Jew was about to be passed on to him, he imagined himself ensconced there, waited on by thin Malabari Moslems who questioned their faith, with his traveling companion, the Prince of Palms and the little girl who loved him so much that she continually adoringly attached herself to other lovers in faraway lands she dreamt of visiting with him. Making vagrancy a profession young people all over the world could aspire to, he plans to convert the 700 year old synagogue, when it is not in use, of course, into a Museum of Vagrant Peoples where others may find refuge from the restriction imposed upon them by their fear of being alive

Alvaro Mutis, Gabo, Neruda, Alejo Carpentier, Lezama Lima these classic writers are always in my world view and my head. Leonardo Padura is trying to enter that space.

Imagine my great pleasure when a close friend from that huge land to the south that speak the lusitanian tongue, said she had managed to procure a copy of the poems by Alvaro Mutis!


I have been dreaming of this poem for months if not years and it is to arrive from that land in the south..

Some unexpected pleasures are too sweet to describe.

I repaired my self to Ricky's cafe and gave special instructions to the venezuelan waitress to make Cafe Cortadito like we drink in Havana and began writing what came to my mind

so this is my CV (dont ask me where I went to medical school or studied my postgraduate course in Anthropology)

In Akko, he as ejected from the Hummus Store of Sayed the Palestinian, only to find himself staring at the lodgings of the medieval poet from Isfahan.

A proto-dravidian immigration offer at the middle of the night refused him entry to the land of Dosai and Idly, forcing him to spend the night on the cold floor of a rundown airport, with a group of Nigerians waiting to be deported.

In Cochin, overcome by hunger, he dressed himself as a priest and helped himself to the sacred wine and wafers, he was condemned but forgiven by the venerable patriarch of the Syrian Catholic Church, on the promise to become a christian, a promise he never kept.

In Baracoa, in the eastern part of the island of Cuba, his name is written on plaques honouring him as an authority on local indigenous archeology and a photo of him dressed in Lakota Indian regalia is kept besides the Cross that Cristobal Colon left there on his visit to Cuba in 1493. Syncretic followers of the afro-cuban religion worship him as YEHOO the spirit of Friendship and Fertility.


I have visited many of the places Maqroll of Mutis had lived and visited, also sat on the table at Cafe Geneva in Cuernavaca where they might have met, Gabo and Mutis


Two Colombians to admire and love, Mutis and Gabo.


So, thank you for bringing back memories of my favourite prose writer in Spanish, Alvaro Mutis from Colombia (who lived for a long time in Mexico).

featured posts

CUBA IS THE FUTURE FOR LATIN AMERICA AND PERHAPS THE WORLD

CUBA IS THE FUTURE FOR LATIN AMERICA AND PERHAPS THE WORLD On my way out of Cuba, from La Habana, on COPA airlines flight to Panama, I w...