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mardi 18 mai 2010

The Magical Surrealism of being with INDIOS, the natives of America

I am virtually in the middle of nowhere and it would be difficult for someone does not understand the silence of space, or if you live in a country where the concept of private space as sacred does not exist. in this small town near the banks of Upper Missouri River, there is no Cafe, at 8 pm, the only thing open is a Bar where the drunken locals and farmers wander in and out and drive out in their dilapidated cars.
Yet there is an incongruity here which borders on the magical reality of Gabo.
My Lunch was Panang Curry with Shrimp, and my dinner was vegetarian Pad Thai. I have had a piece of La Roux chocolate voted as the best chocolatier in France (all chocolates are not the same my dear, the same with men!) and I am sipping Nespresso Cafe promoted in France by a well known American actor!(George Clooney)
this is the contrast I have to get used to, in this country of extreme wealth, exploitation and socialist generosity, marginalized people and at the same time, how many people in any part of the world could have a day like mine today?
First of all the clinic of the Indians, the characters who came through, all with their generous gifts of laughter and hearts bigger than their meagre land they were allotted to by the conquistadores from Europe, would fill pages of a novel from a fictitious country in south America. I am not in America or USA but in this imagination or a dream. Like the Bushman told me in !Tsumkwe, we are all dreams dreaming of ourselves..
the fluidity with the fellow workers and the lack of competitiveness, when money is not involved goodness comes out and when you work in the corporate world , then the money aspect drive the agenda. Indians are not quantitative so to subject them to quantitative thinking is wrong.
Our Diabetes Clinic in this isolated part of North Eastern Nebraska delivers some of the best care in the country, because the agenda is CARE, the happiness of people who seek us, they are not patients or clients but our relatives ( Mitakuye Oyasin)..
At Lunchtime, this Lakota couple, tall and handsome suggested that we go for lunch to the Thai restaurant. we talked about the environment, their country (not synonymous with USA, but the land of their ancestors).. I asked M.. while looking at the trees which have all put on fresh green gowns.. Do you ever think of a time when white people were not here..
I think of it all the time, doctor was her reply. they are connected to a time, which is beyond oblivion.
The connection of an Indian is to the Universe not to an ideology of a country or philosophy but values that are represented Universally, they particularize it with their strong cultural identity. They know they are Indians, they don’t have to go around telling every one else they are Indians.
We talked about Buffalos, as we passed the herd, I shouted at them, Brothers , we are going to eat Thai food for lunch and hope you are not jealous of us.. the buffalos heard us but ignored us as they were too busy shedding their heavy winter robes and getting ready for the dry Plains summer.
We talked about pesticides and poisoning; food not as a medicine but a disease producer, giving examples of water contamination and thyroid problems in the reservations. The increase in Attention Deficit disorders among the children…
Like I say, at my presentations ( recently at KL and Havana)
The Indigenous peoples have already the answers, it is just no one is asking them..
I told the story why Indian children do not die in their cots, I told them one interpretation of the hole in their moccasins, then about young thunder beings playing and creating havoc... all these would sound hocus pocus to a western mind but to them it all made sense.. because they are able to connect the dots however obtuse they may be in path...
What a sense of simple joy, this form of conversation, and a friendship solidified not by concrete slabs of networking or profit and gain but the softness of the collective understanding of the universe around us..

They afternoon was more of the same, more patients but plenty of time with each patient, in between socializing with various Indian workers. this aspect of belonging to a world, which is vanishing, is the greatest reward of my work. It is an arduous journey for me to come from my home to the land of the Indians, but after a day like today, nothing is too tedious! And to do that in the most advanced technological country in this world.. even more poignant..

It is my custom to have dinner with Indians when I am in these remote parts of their habitations, and we drive the 35 miles to the nearest city (an uninteresting and uninspiring city which had known better times) and enjoy the cuisine of the Immigrant workers to the Meat Packing Factories! It is amazing that in this dump of a city, we can order Ethiopian bread, a bun ga xao, a pad Thai.. in addition to much of the fast food garbage that passes for food.. To each his own, and I am thank ful for the Lao and Vietnamese refugees for their excellent home cooked meals..
The newest member of the tribe is only five weeks old but it is the right time to introduce her to the pleasures of dining with friends. In the company of her mother and grandmother, we partook in a nice meal. More pleasant conversations.. More memories and collection of affections that strengthen the fibre of a good life….
In one weeks time, I would be partaking yet another feast…moveable, sensuous, intellectual, exhilarating, full of love in my Isla Rica… my little Island