jeudi 7 juin 2007

A Dream Dreaming of Itself..Musings from Paris

Friday, 1 June 2007

A young Arab French girl with a visible bulging belly and her hair dyed blonde serves me a glass of house wine. As happens in the evenings, a pianist is belting romantic, moody melodies on his piano in the hallway surrounded by restaurants of these very modern office complexes, La Defense. Friday evening. 7 pm. I have my baguette ready, so what if I am not home yet, I can wish you all a Shabbat shalom. Next Friday night, 8 June, I hope to be lighting the candles at the home of Sister Jackie in Miami, on 16th June, I will be with sister friend Dar in Yakima, Washington and on the 23rd, as the sun goes down with the Havdalah Service, I will be flying from Houston to Paris, and by the next Shabbat or thereabouts I should be on my way to the most Buddhist of the countries, Myanmar. Such is the life of this modern day wandering Jew!
Paris is a delight to the eyes. I am not talking about the classic and modern architecture. While my little island of Cuba offers, along with Brasil, the most sensuous of human beings, Paris has an elegance I have not seen elsewhere, not even in my beloved Buenos Aires! This city has the best dressed black people on earth, lithe and dignified; eat your hearts out, Cape Town, London and New York!! People are more overweight than before, but the French are the least overweight of all Europeans (20% compared to 45% in the UK and around 65 % in Australia and USA), but it cannot be Calories, Fat content or the extra alcohol. Lunch today was two pieces of steamed fish, Merluza, with a citron sauce on a bed of steamed vegetables, a salad of Leek in cheese, rice with thick sauce, some haricots, and then a healthy chunk of Roquefort cheese, to be consumed BEFORE, mind you, eating the fruit salad. Minimum time for lunch is one hour, but it usually stretches into two, perhaps there lies the myth of calories and overweight, the French take time over their lunches, in the USA, at some of the clinics where I work, they allot a mere 30 minutes for lunch, enough time to gulp down some preserved food, fatty and highly toxic!! I believe, it is not what you eat that matter, how you eat it, with whom you eat with, how slowly you eat your food and the relaxation at the table. If you don’t have time to eat, don’t eat, but don’t use it as an excuse to gulp down poorly prepared food! In fact, for one of my patients, I wrote down a prescription, One hour for Lunch to be permitted, if she wishes her to remain healthy. I think of the many delightful meals prepared by my younger brother friend Shimon... Always a pleasure, schmooze, endless chatter, glasses of wine, conversation and a good coffee to follow. Always a pleasure, Shimon… I look for ward to the Chupah, you and Avital in Haifa, with your parents Shmulik and Nava, in October...
I am thinking of the person that I have continuously known for the longest period of time, my younger brother Ricardo. How I wish I was sharing this Shabbat with him in Sde Bkr, in Eretz Israel. Soon enough, Brother. My brother Eliyahu’s eldest daughter, a classic mizrachi American beauty, 11 years old, is counting the days she can set off for her first international trip without her parents, to Paris, nevertheless, arranged by the French School she attends in Portland. My brother and his wife would pick her up at the end of her stay, at the end of this month, my Asian brother who is far more comfortable in Kobe or Cambodia will have to be finding out for himself the beauties of this city...
Reading a wonderful book at the moment, currently devouring Indian literature in English, Pankaj Mishra, Amitav ghosh, Terun Tejpal and this author, Shashi Tharoor, a former UN undersecretary, of Cochin origin, born in London, now lives in New York. This book is a positive analysis of he character of his country INDIA (the title of the book as well) of which he is so proud of. (He speaks perfect French, I saw him on French TV when he was in Paris to celebrate, the Indian Book week). I highly recommend this book as it explains, from a very liberal point of view, what it means to be an Indian, not the hollow bombastic, narrow minded hollers you hear in the writings intended for the west. The other books by Indian writers in English, recently read include
Pankaj Mishra The temptations of the West Excellent chapter on Indira Gandhi and her mishandling of the corrupt political establishment of India.
Terun Tejpal The Alchemy of Desire. This has to be one of the more exquisite romances from India, human and passionate
Amitav Ghosh The hungry Tide. Exciting story set in the Sunderbans region of Bengal. Having a doctorate in Anthropology, Ghosh weaves into his tale, bits of information, lying deep in the archives. Typically, how did the Irrawaddy Dolphin get its name?
Reading shashi Tharoor’s explanation of cultural identity, following that, I have claim to Malaysian and Australian Nationalities (but only hold Australian nationality), I could define myself thus for others (sine they an Indian when they look at me!)
An Australian Jew of Malaysian Malayalee Origin who calls Baracoa, Cuba home but lives in Paris, France, works with the Indigenous people of America.
To that I add,
The above person cares about you, who will be reading these notes of a wanderer, as this quiet Shabbat begins, sitting at Paradis du Fruit, a post modern café in Paris, where the waiters are remnants of Algeria, Pondicherry and Jaffna and Saigon..
I miss my little island, Cuba, very much, and the untold genuine affections there, can’t call them or chat with them on line or enter into regular communications with them by post, but the tenderness is there.
On this Shabbat, welcome to some new friends from Ljubljana and Warszawa, hello to my friends from the Malay peninsula and the islands, my Kickapoo and hocank sisters, an old friend LMS, other friends in Miami, San Antonio, BA, SP, La Habana and elsewhere, our circle of love grows bigger and bigger…
So, dear friends, brothers, teachers, sisters, lovers and others…
Welcome to this world within a world, we are living a Dream, dreaming of itself (said the Jhu!huasi from !tsumkwe in the Kalahari)…