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vendredi 29 janvier 2010

How Lucky can you get.... Yoga in Kuala Lumpur...

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As if magic had descended into our lives, over a matter of few days in September of 2009, friends from Bombay currently living in KL, were able to organize a four day seminar on Yoga for newbies like me.. and my friends in KL. What was the crown of this gift? a very good teacher, recommended highly from BOmbay, who would come to KL and teach us on an intimate personal level.. just four of us..

Like in all other philosophies and cultures, there is a deep and superficial aspects of Yoga. Who has not heard of Yoga in the west? but how many people have any sort of idea of Yoga other than the fancy postures they have seen on TV or commercial advertising. My own contact with Yoga previous to this was two enthusiasts of Yoga, one in Portland and another in the Indian country in Nebraska!
I knew the time had come for me to learn, but learn it properly, wehn I saw a book: Diabetes and Yoga, and I thought about the hundreds of my american indian patients, and how can I cross culturally bring the philosophy to them.
Now i realize that, the philosophy is easier than i thought to bring. American Indians have a philosophy of life which is much older than most other philosophies, even though it is not written down. India has a deep ancient wisdom..
Listening to the young Yoga practitioner from India, I realized what Symbolic Healing has always taught me, the spiritual world is the same for all of us, there are particular ways in which we reach that world. The Yoga practitioner, went through the various processes of Yoga and the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of it. The metaphors she used were stunning.. so universal and so applicable to any culture. Yoga by itself is without any religious symbolism, and its philosophy is universal.
I have always wanted to bring elements of Yoga to the Indian Reservations and I know that many of my Indian friends and patients at the Reservations are eager for it. It would be great if we had a practitioner like the efficient and able one teaching us Yoga in Kuala Lumpur... If things are to happen, they happen, say the American Indians, we dont have to go chase them..
So thanks to ALL my friends in Kuala Lumpur who made this happen... I am quite certain that when I leave Malaysia in a couple of days time, I would leave it a wiser man than the one entered the country. Teremah Kaseh.. Merci beaucoup...arigato gozaimasu..

mardi 26 janvier 2010

What a Friendly welcome at AF Lounge at Dubai

In the west, Dubai is not perceived as a place of friendship. I arrived here after what seemed to be a very short flight from Paris. My connecting flight was still hours away and I had already enquired about an Air France lounge at Dubai airport, yes, we have one, said the appropriately attired man with a serious tone of voice at Lounge at Terminal 2 E.
the time was just close to 9 am, i peered into the lounge, nary a soul.. total silence. then suddenly a smiling face appears..I could immediately recognize a Burmese and a Shan at that, for he had very typical facial features of someone you would expect to meet near Taunggyi in southern part of Shan State in Myanmar. He welcomed me and waited for the AF uniform clad, attractive lady with no distinguishing national features in her face. She was also very friendly and informed me that the lounge would close at 12 noon and I can stay as long as that.
Capuccino, some fruits, two salmon finger sandwiches and i settled down to check emails and write emails.
Aung comes over, we began chatting about Burma, as is the case with burmese living overseas there is always a little reluctance to discuss their country, but he was as friendly as any burmese. i felt a nostalgia for that golden land where i had gone so many times and had made so many friends over the course of years and also all the affection and love I have gathered ..
Dubai airport is super modern, very comfortable, but it is like a skeleton with no personality, a shadow with no cultural identity. Every single person, hundreds of them milling around whether going to Quetta or coming in from Dhaka, with an occasional white skin on holidays to or from Maldives... every one was foreign. Filipinos, Subcontinentals predominated..I too became a foreigner among all these foreigners, for a moment when my foreigness beame no longer exotic.. i was in the tropical rainforest of trees and vines and i was just another leaf..
the only difference that this time tomorrow I would be giving a lecture at the University in Malaysia. No Peshawar for me, at this stage...I like this cultural chaos and enjoyed it.
Time passed by quickly, the air france announced the departure of its daily flight to Paris and then the lounge became empty and quiet, apart from the Burmese who was plying me with juice and other edible morsels ... and the lady with non descript nationality.
you can look at her photo and decide for yourself where she comes from.. the same curiosity took me to the table where she was sitting reading, dont tell me where you are from, let me guess? normally this exercise in placing people in the globe is very easy for me, but I am not an expert on this part of the world.
She turned out to be very pleasant, long chat with her, we talked about the Burqa controversy in France at the moment, that is not Islam, Koran does not say we must cover ourselves up. I knew what whatever country she came from, she has an open and liberal mind.
We played a game to guess where she came from. Truly, she had a face which did not give you a clue at all. She was from somewhere, somewhere foreign.. but that is a condescending attitude for an anthropologist.. I beg your pardon, miss.
the first clue was that her pronounciation of the letter b, was the one reminding you of a native arab speaker.. but the arab world stretches from Maghreb, meaning West to all the way to socotra! no she did not have features of somali, eritrean.. the only clue she gave me was that she was from Africa...
we are prejudiced, when someone says africa, we think of Ghana, South Africa, Zanzibar but not Libya! Do you speak Swahili, i asked her, with that answer one can rule out
all the swahili speaking countries in east africa, because she did look like a sophisticated version of Indian woman from East Africa, especially her dark straight hair.. No, i dont speak swahili. Not lebanon.. Not Palestine...
after about half an hour, she did tell me where she came from.. it was a total surprise to me.. i even asked, tell me some of the artists famous in your country, so that i could put one and one together.. she mentioned names i have never heard of ... ah well, this anthropologist was humbled .. it is almost as if the Great Spirit put her there, to teach humility to me, on this day, just before i fly off to KL to give a lecture to the faculty members of Monash University Malaysia.You can look at her face and decide for yourself where she is from..
Correct answer wins a brunch at Hotel Oriental in Kuala Lumpur, alas, airfare there not included...

samedi 23 janvier 2010

Cross Cultural Aspects of Diabetes .. in Kuala Lumpur

The School Research Committee cordially invites you to the School Seminar Series, talk by Dr. Sudah Yehuda Shaheb on the topic of Diabetes: An International cross cultural perspective.

Date: 27th January 2010
Time: 12.00pm – 1.00pm
Venue: Lecture Theatre, Room 3001, Building 3, level 1.
Monash University Malaysia Campus Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

I am quite honoured to give this research presentation on Diabetes from an International Cross Cultural Perspective, touching on my experiences in USA among Native Americans, in Cuba, Namibia with the San, France, Malaysia especially the Indians there, and the BRIC countries, also Cambodia..
I am leaving Paris on 25th arriving in KL only hours before the presentation but i will make sure i have a nice sleep on the flight over to KL...

mercredi 20 janvier 2010

Another First for Cuba


There were a total of 13 medical doctors who have appeared for the 2009 common exam, a majority of whom had graduated from Sri Lanka and India. Suresh Chandra Mothey, MBBS graduate from Latin American School of Medicine, Santiago, Cuba came first in the medical group with 67.48 %.

Most people do not realize the extent of the medical education and scholarship provided by the Cuban Government to students from developing nations. Would you believe that Suresh Mothey was one of the first five students from Bhutan to be given scholarship to study medicine in Santiago de Cuba and now he is back home in Thimphu. He makes us proud by coming first in the civil service examination for doctors. Felicidades, amigo mio..

PS February 4th. While I was in Cochin, it was a pleasure for me to receive an email from this doctor, who is working at the capital in Bhutan, certainly he didnt fail Cuba when he said in his email: what a privilege is to serve humanity.
Once again I shout at the top of my voice, Viva Cuba, Nuestra Isla Rica...

vendredi 15 janvier 2010

Cuban Help to Haiti

It is not a known fact that cuba has nearly 400 doctors working in haiti all over the island as a part of the solidarity programme for poor countries. there is also an entire medical facility in santiago de cuba dedicated to educating Haitian doctors.
I salute my fellow doctors from Cuba who are in Haiti and who have gone to haiti to help our sister nation.. Bravo.
It is interesting to note that none of the newspapers from the western countries would pick up the fact that 400 doctors are already there and an entire field hospital has been airlifted to Haiti where the doctors can operate and conduct life saving procedures.
Viva la Revolucion Cubana! Viva el Pueblo Cubano!
I am extremely proud to be associated with this gesture of Cuba..

En tres vuelos desde Santiago de Cuba llegará a Haití la ayuda médica cubana
Escrito por M.Sc. Miguel A. Gaínza Chacón
Santiago de Cuba, enero 13.- La ayuda médica cubana de urgencia, organizada a raíz del terremoto que ayer devastó la capital de Haití y otras localidades, salió hacia la isla del Caribe desde el aeropuerto internacional Antonio Maceo, en esta ciudad. Dos de los vuelos llevan al personal médico, formado por integrantes de la Brigada Henry Reve, y el tercero es un carguero con equipamiento y el material necesario para socorrer a los haitianos víctimas del sismo.

De las provincias occidentales, especialmente de La Habana, y de Camagüey, Las Tunas, Granma, Guantánamo y Santiago de Cuba es el personal médico que ayudará al pueblo haitiano a paliar los sufrimientos por el devastador terremoto del martes por la tarde.

Un grupo de cooperantes cubanos que laboraban en Haití y cumplían su período vacacional en Cuba, optaron por regresar de inmediato a la vecina isla La Española, para sumarse al esfuerzo por ayudar al pueblo de esa nación, que en menos de un minuto presenció la destrucción del centro de la capital, Puerto Príncipe.

De las provincias orientales suman 14 los integrantes de la Brigada Emergente Henry Reve, que se completa con los de las provincias occidentales, además de los referidos cooperantes vacacionistas.

En estos momentos hay en Haití 394 colaboradores de todas las provincias del país, de estos 79 de Santiago de Cuba, y del total general, el 63 por ciento son mujeres, quienes no han sufrido daño alguno por el movimiento telúrico.

“Por lo perentorio de la situación, las especialidades principales incluidas en las brigadas que viajan hoy hacia Haití son preferentemente quirúrgicas y ginecobstetra; anestesiólogos, anestesistas, enfermeras instrumentistas, enfermeras intensivistas, técnicos de Banco de Sangre, y los especialistas en Medicina General Integral, para potenciar el trabajo donde sean situados los grupos médicos de Cuba”, señaló el Lic. Héctor Mustelier Ferrer, jefe de Colaboración Médica en Santiago de Cuba.

“Así demostramos cómo hemos sido educados en el sentimiento internacionalista, solidario y humanitario, característico en el pueblo de Cuba que ahora estará representado por los trabajadores de la Salud”, aseguró Mustelier Ferrer.

jeudi 14 janvier 2010

Food in the time of a Snow Storm

I was snowbound at the Blue House for a full four days. couldnt leave the house and brave the mountains of snow, driving the car was out of questions, no one else was driving and i couldnt get the car out of the driveway even if i tried.
i enjoyed my four days of isolation so much.. was able to read all the things put aside for reading, was able to get in touch with people i want to be in touch with.. no telephone calls visit from an Indian friend with soup with wild rice in it.. delicious..
as if i was expecting this scenario, I had brought food from France. I had a stack of crepes from Bretagne and lots of good seafood from Belle Ille.. and nice dark chocolate. I had a good bottle of wine...
I was preparing the lecture I am supposed to give on the 27th at the Monash University Campus in Malaysia.. so wonderful to discover new facts especially with regards to the epidemiology of different races and conjucture why it is happening?
Today I flew from Omaha via Houston to Fort Lauderdale, upgraded on both legs, rented a car and off to see my sister.. the next two days would be a reminder of the love and affection of the family before i return to France.. home sweet home, would be very glad to be home.. special smiles waiting for me...and of course good food.. what wouldnt i do for a nice baguette? have not eaten much bad food on this trip, except what they sell as burritos, i had one at the Rez and two on the planes.. all in all I have eaten well on this trip to the USA.. without hardly touching any american food..meaning fast food, I suppose..
when i arrived in Miami, my sister had prepared a nice lebanese feast.. she knows my partiality for levantine food..and i am sure the next two days, i will be offered home cooked jamaican meal, perhaps other types of food would appear or be suggested..
Nothing like a good cup of cuban coffee.. as i was driving past Hialeah today on the way to the hospital in Miami, I was overwhelmed by the flavour of cuban cooking wafting across the highway.. I fondly thought of my little island south of here, where very soon I would be tasting the authentic dishes of Cuba..

dimanche 10 janvier 2010

The Pleasures of being snow Bound in Nebraska

It took me nearly two days, staying overnight at a CDG hotel, then another overnight at a hotel in Omaha, before i ventured out in the snow storm to the reservation of the Indians. They knew I was due that day, and I received a call early on my handphone: be careful and avoid such and such a road and gave me a slew of instructions on how to drive on a snowy day.
I took the well travelled route, and at least four times in one hour, had "whiteouts" when you are at the mercy of the spirits and you cannot see anything while you are trying to maintain the speed you are driving, and also hoping that no one hits you. it is a strange and eery sensation.
Reached the blue house in the Reservation (a picture of it can be seen) and for the next four days, i was not able to leave the house. The temperature fell to minus 15 to 20 degrees Celsius. Fortunately I had brought all my food provisions from France, since i was coming from Bretagne, I had a good selection of seafood and also crepes.. a 2004 Saint Emilion was not wasted and appreciated..
Not even once was I bored or fidgety. the wireless connection in the house was operational, the heat was on so the temperature inside the house was a warm 76 F (about 22C).. I was able to be constantly in touch with my loved ones in Miami, Quiberon and Kuala Lumpur. I was able to catch up on all emails. was able to read an enormous amount about Diabetes Epidemic in the South Eastern Asian countries, and prepare a presentation, hopefully on the day I arrive at KL on 27th January..
Body feels rested, feel very very loved not only by the usual suspects but also by the Indians whom I am here to serve.
Today was Day 4 inside the house. the temperatuere climbed to 32 C ie 0 C. and it felt like a heat wave! you coudl see people walking around with minimal covering instead of their thick coats.. I called TT, who is a patient of mine. He lives 50 km away and within two hours arrived at the house with his snowblowing machine and worked hard for one hour to clear a path for my car to leave the yard to go onto the road. Thus my four day isolation was broken. Went to the Thai Restaurant in the next big town, 50 km away and had a nice Geow Teow (which they call Drunken noodle), which is a spicier version of our ubiquitous koey teow of Malaysia..
2010 has begun well. I have had good news from all quarters. I am kept up to date by my far flung friends. I am glad they live far away since it will make me plan diligently to see them..Cuba. Malaysia. Burma. Cambodia Cochin are all on the picture ..
You can always choose your friends, and I have chosen them well..or they have chosen me?

jeudi 7 janvier 2010

An Unusual Tale of Love in the Time of Cyclones

a good friend of mine, Eithwe who is Burmese and currently at Phnom Penh, wanted me to send her one of my notes about my experiences in Burma. I thought to myself, what better to depict the Burmese generosity of spirit and love than my three little girls from Chaungtha Beach

you can read this story at the above site. Hope you enjoy it. My next visit to chaungtha would be in July, once again with my trusted friend, the equally generous chinese lady of literature and letters, YMC.

mardi 5 janvier 2010

How little they know about Cuba in the USA

Zilch. Nada. Pitiable. No wonder they keep on committing blunder after blunder when it comes to their foreign policy..
News item from 4 Jan 2010..
La liste des pays visés intègre les États accusés par Washington de « soutenir le terrorisme » – Cuba, Iran, Soudan et Syrie – ainsi que l'Afghanistan, l'Algérie, l'Arabie Saoudite, l'Irak, le Liban, la Libye, le Nigeria, le Pakistan, la Somalie et le Yémen. À l'exception de Cuba, tous ces pays sont majoritairement musulmans. Les ressortissants de ces 14 pays de même que les passagers y ayant transité seront soumis à une palpation corporelle et à une fouille de leurs bagages à main, ont précisé des responsables américains confirmant une information du site Politico.

Any one who has some knowledge of International Affairs would know that to include Cuba in this famous company is an insult to all Cubans living in the island and also intelligent people who admire and love Cuba. To call Cuba a sponsor of terrorism is straight out of Cold War era and I am surprised that Barack Obama after promising so much to ease tensions with Cuba, has carried on his predecessors track, giving into the Mafia crowd of Miami Cubans!

Add this to the long list of blunders in the hemisphere, starting with RD, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Brasil, Chile just to name a few.. and dont forget Panama...

dimanche 3 janvier 2010

My Wishes for my Friends in 2010 and beyond

I am in Quiberon, Bretagne today. Tomorrow I leave to be with Native American Indians of Nebraska before going to Miami to visit my sister. I have uploaded some pictures of this infant month of 2010: Food Family Friends
You are most welcome to look at this album.

Megaliths of Carnac Region: Dolmen, Menhir and Tumulus
Port of Saint Goustain and Auray
The medieval part of Vannes

Looking forward to :
UmonHon and HoCank Indians, despite the fact they had two feet of snow last week and the top temperature might be around -5 C!
Few days in Miami, my favourite city in the USA, with my sister Jackie. A lunch at Maroosh Lebanese Restaurant is a must..

Paris and France, as always.

on arrival on 27th January at KLIA, I am to get ready to give a presentation to the faculty at the Medical School. this has stimulated my mind to think and write about the Social Aspect of Diabetes in the Asian Context.

Havana, Yangon, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kuala Trenganu are all waiting! to be visited in 2010