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dimanche 4 novembre 2007

It is 2 35 am in Paris, 8 35 pm in Miami, 7 35 pm in Winnebago and 5 35 pm in Yakima.
The night of 21st/22nd October 2007.
I have just finished my dinner. Not just any dinner. Alone.
Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve Champagne
Foie gras de pato con chutney de fruta seca
Provencale style braised Chicken
Cotes du Rhone Villaes Vinsobres Les Cornuds 2005 Perrin et fils
La selection du maitre fromager; three different types of cheese
Mango Sorbet, Cookies, Royal Ceylon Tea
What is this occasion?
I can think of two reasons for celebrations.
I am looking forward to seeing the person around whom my world moves.
In Paris.
I have just left the Indians, after a very very fruitful week with them.
I have to be thankful, to the spirits, said I to Georgia Gomez, my Hocank Indian Sister.
The only thing you have is your body, everything else is borrowed, what sacrifice you do with that body would demonstrate how much you would like to do for the people.
Might put you up the hill for four days, do you think you are ready?
Am I ready?, I asked, frightened at the thought of being left all alone, without food and drink, and a blanket to ward off the cold nights under the clear skies.
Wehnona St Cyr was selected as one of the outstanding community health leaders, I felt all of us was part of that celebration. She is the CEO of the UmonHon tribe Health Clinic. I am the Endocrinologist to that Clinic.
Michele Smith, I think every nurse should model themselves after her, visionary, innovative and totally committed to the welfare of the Indians. I had lunch with her twice, once at her favourite Chinese restaurant in Sioux City, the Hunan Palace and the second time in Decatur, Nebraska. As I entered the lady there said, where have you been, have not seen you in a while, and before you open your mouth, there is nothing healthy here to eat..
So in effect, shut up and eat what we give you. Two large pieces of fresh river fish braided in batter..
All for the price of a cup of café in Paris!
People had come from Indianopolis and San Antonio to speak to me and Georgia and Tina De Cora, the administrative assistant of the Diabetes Programme of the Hocank Indians.
They are impressed. And appreciative of our efforts and more over supportive. More human an interaction than commercial one.
I tell them, we can do things community wide, because we don’t have to construct a community, we live in a community
Would you be able to go to Denver on November 12th and present your work to the Health Committee of the American Indian Congress, the oldest organization of the Native People of this country?
It would be an honour!
Calculating in my mind. I have to give a talk to the association of latin American diabetes societies at la Habana, Cuba on Friday 16th.
There is a chance that the Robert Wood Johnson work group of the four tribes of Nebraska, who are getting together to put together a grant application for prevention of childhood obesity might be meeting on the 13th in Omaha, Nebraska. Wehnona wanted me to go to that meeting.
There is a flight from Nassau to la Habana on Thursday 15th.
It was good to meet with our visitors, who had travelled far to come and see us, in that corner of northeastern Nebraska. The day before, faculty from the Creighton University School of medicine were there to witness the honouring of Wehnona at the UmonHon Clinic.
Two things I had to explain to our white American friends.
It is quite common among Indians for those who are being honoured to give away presents, a custom quite contrary to the one in the majority culture
Secondly, I tried to explain to them, Europeans have long forgotten the concept of social responsibility in which you take responsibility for others, this concept of a relative, Mitakuye Oyasin, that we are all related. A major portion of the life of the Indian and his time is consumed by this desire and the need and the effort to do something for the relatives.
Right now I am 3000 miles away from Paris, have been flying for 2 hours 45 minutes. Five more hours to go. It would be good to sleep a little.
This week with the Indians was extremely satisfying. A drop in the ocean of their misery, but some relief. As Delacroix had said somewhere, relief of pain and misery is what people remember you by.
Everyone who had appointments to see me at the clinic showed up and more. Deb Parker does an extraordinary job as Diabetes Coordinator at Umonhon, herself married to an Umonhon Indian. The days at the Hocank Clinic was very pleasant thanks to Teri Eckerman who makes sure that the patients who need to see me come in time.
It was time to reflect
The person I am going to see in Paris is the gift of the Spirits to me. A humble, sacrifysing self, ethical and giving; she envelopes me like the big sky. I feel secure knowing that she will take care of me while I take care of the Indians.
Who else takes care of me.. the list is long and dear to my heart..
My sister Jackie, with whom I spend delightful time in between my trips
That is why I always begin and end my USA trips in Miami. I arrive, there is English tea, chicken breast marinated in a sandwich with fromage chevre last night when I got to her house, hours of laughter and always eating and spending time together, whatever time she can spare, in between giving of herself to so many people, including her mother who now stays with her.
I have gathered affections
In my sister friends
Georgia Gomez of Hocank
Michele Smith who works with the UmonHon
Dar who works with the Yakama Indians
Geri Martinez whom I met while I was working with the Kickapoo in Texas/Mexico

This is my family. I have a daughter, Claudia Prieto Noa in Baracoa who is in her first year of Medical studies.
Some close friends in Cuba: Castro and Beatiz and Yamina in Baracoa; Mother Lucia, Cari and Amparo in La Habana.
I am not close to the people who are related to me by blood. I don’t blame them, time and circumstances separated us for decades at a time. I admire sister Sudha for her devotion to her mother in India. I have completely forgotten those who were left behind in Australia.
I realized one thing today.
If you loose someones friendship, you never deserved them in the first place.
I had a delightful time during lunch with a friend of mine that I had met in Baracoa, El Capitan Pablo. Humble, human and gentle, I am so glad to be his friend, and each time I am in Miami for more than one day, I will make an attempt to see him.
I am slowly loosing my interest in Cuba, I did my best, with the greatest of intentions and without any interest, for years on end, what I could and I know I made the difference in the lives of some people. But I no longer have energy for their continued struggle, the relationships are becoming just one sided ( except those mentioned above in Cuba), it is a matter of diminishing returns. With lessening interest in Cuba, friendships that germinated in Cuba are also withering.
That which needs to blossom will blossom, if the intentions are pure enough. Hidden agendas, passive behaviours can all go out of the window. Adios!
I feel closer to Sam and Nava in Israel thus to Shimon and Avital , to Ko Maung Maung in Siem Reap in Cambodia. I saw Sam and Nava a couple of weeks ago at the wedding of their son, Shimon in Haifa, hope to see Ko Maung maung in Siem Reap in December.
I think very fondly of my two brothers, there has been some estrangement from them this past year. I used to look forward to going to see them, but the eagerness is somewhat dampened. I only want loves without strings, even if there are borders, like the borders I have put on my friendships with Nga in Saigon, Ming in Singapore and Jen in Kuala Lumpur. If we define the borders, we must be careful not to cross them. I miss Elliott and Richard, tremendously, but I am afraid, they will have to come and see me! Mazeltov to you, Brother Ricardo!
You are welcome to all the places that I call HOME
Hocank and UmonHon Indian Reservations
La Habana
Cochin in India
Yangon in Burma
So I thank you, my sister Jackie, my brothers Elliott and Richard and my sister friends: Georgia, Michele, Dar, Geri.
Thank you for listening to the sounds of my heart. I shall try and sleep a little so that when I arrive in Paris in five hours time, I wont feel very very tired. I have nothing planned for tomorrow but I do look forward to a pleasant weekend in Bruxelles.
I thank the spirits that each of the weekends have been spent in different places, and will be so until the end of this year:
San Antonio
And I look forward to
La Habana, Madras, Siem Reap and Saigon.

Finished writing this note
Sitting in seat 1 D, 747-400 of Air France
Miami to Paris 21/22 October 2007
3 15 am in Paris. 9 15 pm in Miami. 8 15 pm in San Antonio and Winnebago 6 15 pm in Yakima

The flight arrived at CDG at 7 50 am. There were not enough ground staff, because of the transportation strike in Paris. We waited for twenty minutes before someone could be found to open the door. Then we were whisked off to the Immigration and the officer looked at my passport for less than five seconds and that was that formality. We waited nearly half an hour for the luggage to arrive so by the time I left the hall, we had touched down two hours earlier.
Walking along the long corridors of the Paris Airport, I spied the Arrivals lounge and entered and was welcomed.
Would you like a shower, enquired the lady.
Yes Please
The shower facilities belonged rather to a five star hotel rather than an airport Lounge. Thick towels, all sorts of shower speeds and temperatures and positions. Occitane accessories. Ah well, they know how to do it, the French..
Capuccino. Fruit Juice. Pain au Chocolat. Internet.
Now I am ready to face the traffic to Porte Maillot and then HOME..