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mercredi 28 avril 2010

The Indus Valley Civilization

The Archeological ruins of Moenjodaro located on the right bank of the Indus River, around 400 kilometers north of Karachi, in Pakistan's Sindh Province, bears witness to one of the earliest civilizations in teh world, the Indus Civilization. It flourished for about 500 years during the 3rd and 2nd millennium BCE. Its discovery in 1922 brought to light the earliest manifestations of urbanization of South Asia.
While flying to Houston from Paris, I was reading a story about Moenjodaro in the last issue of GEO magazine, there were also pictures of the Bird People, the Mohana. While driving around the expanses of Indian country in the middle of USA, I came across the BBC documentary on radio about the origins of Sanskrit and later was able to watch the long documentary on TV in Miami. It also mentioned Moenjadaro as one of the routes through which Sanskrit arrived in India. At the time of Moenjadaro, both Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations were at their peak, so was a civilization in Turkmenistan and Turkey, but not to the same extent. Thus Sanskrit has been connected through these civilization to its possible origin in Turkey, since it must have arrived in India through the peopling of India with various outsiders.
Unfortunately, Indus civilization is linked with India and the site is in Pakistan, thus it had fallen prey to the neuroticism between the countries, only 2.5% of the site has been excavated and currently the efforts are to delay the deterioration of the structures which has stood the ravages of time.
Constructed exclusively of brick this Bronze age metropolis presents a high degree of social organization, which is particularly illustrated by the sophisticated water system including wells in nearly all households, as well as the carefully designed urban plan. It was one of the first to to be inscribed on the World Heritage List.

Who are the MOHANA?

Manchar lake in Pakistan is one of the largest lakes in Asia, and has sustained life for the houseboat community of Mohana people for over 6,000 years. It's also a watery haven for over 1,000 different species of birds. As a result, the Mohana have evolved to live in complete harmony with birds, considering them to be blood brothers. Special skills and traditions are passed down from generation to generation, preserving knowledge taught by their ancestors.

Mohana children learn from a young age how to handle and respect different birds. Bonding starts at birth, with birds sharing the cradle with Mohana babies. These bonds are further developed as children grow up always accompanied by their own birds. In order to be considered suitable for marriage, bird school is a compulsory undertaking for boys, learning more about the birds and how to mimic the different calls.

Unfortunately the Mohana way of life and very survival is constantly under threat, not only from the dwindling fish supplies and rising salt levels in the lake, but also from neighbouring tribes. The nearby community of Zamindars are considered the owners of the lake territory and often come into conflict with the Mohana.

But the Mohana are willing to fight for their community and their ability to continue to live on the lake amongst the birds. For the Mohana the alternative, living on the banks, isn't a suitable option. As leader Razoo explains: "Asking us to leave the lake is like asking fish to live out of water."


Situated rather nicely within view of Tour Eiffel and other grand buildings of the area, the welcoming UNESCO building was easy to find and easy to enter. A conglomeration of nationalities and languages were mixing about in the lobby and there were two exhibitions; One on Mohanja Daro Civilization and another about a Brasilian Painter, Antonio Bandeira. The Library is open to outsiders and there are computers with Internet connections as well as Wi Fi available. There is a restaurant offering multicultural cuisine, I saw a distinctly Cypriot Menu being offered the day I was there. Magazines to browse through and also information about treaties and world in figures in the library. Nice to sit and spend a little time, catching up on some of the Development and Cultural Issues. Nice place to explore about the UNESCO world heritage sites.

April in Paris

The days have been nothing short of marvellous! Blue Skies and warm temperatures and the tourists are not here yet in droves!
What a difference from February when it was cold and snowing and raining!
So it is exciting to plan a nice stay in Paris. Perhaps catch up on the Museums...and enjoy the restaurants for prolonged lunches...
And work on the details of the academic work in La Habana, Cuba. Nice to move between the original moveable feast of Paris and the moveable feast for me that is La Habana, Cuba

lundi 26 avril 2010

Fantastic Days in La Habana

What can I say except a Big GRACIAS to my family friends and other loves in La Habana! Some people meditate to cleanse themselves, some climb mountains, others flaggelate themselves, but to me I am in La Habana to cleanse myself of the dirt accumulated of living the outside world! it seems an exaggeration, but it has always been true, this is not a late realization. I love being here, was supposed to leave a week earlier. The news of Icelandic Volcano was a disappointment for many, for me an utter bliss that made me stay an extra week in La Habana!
Each and every day something new and exciting; cementing my long term friendships, making new ones, enjoying the purity of affections, to feel at home in this island. I felt cleansed of body and soul, to the other home of mine, Paris.
I am writing this from Paris and will add my recollections of days in La Habana...